Located at the intersection of Bell Street and Sydney Road in Coburg, Wesleyan Methodist Chapel built in 1849 is the oldest Methodist church in Victoria and one of the first buildings of any sort to be built principally of bluestone.
In October 1848, Wesleyan Methodists received Government grant of three allotments of land at Pentridge (Now Coburg) as sites for a Wesleyan Chapel, Minister’s residence, and schoolhouse. This was the site of first Government Pound. Land was at a prime position situated at the intersection of Sydney Road and Bell Street. A chapel was constructed here in 1849 and consecrated in 1850 at a cost of £80. Its southern wall was made of imported Hobart sandstone. The design of the chapel is attributed to Thomas Smith. A Wesleyan Day School commenced at the building in 1851 by teacher Peter Dredge. When Dredge left for the Goldfields in 1852, the school was closed.
By 1855 Pentridge became the centre of Methodist Circuit which took in Tullamarine, Greensborough, and Beveridge. As it gained prominence a bigger chapel became a necessity. On 5th August 1857, foundation stone for a church was laid, designed by T.J. Crouch.
A sealed bottle containing the following record was placed in the stone cavity beneath the corner stone together with a copy of Argus and Herald of the day:
‘’This stone was laid as the foundation stone of the Pentridge Wesleyan Methodist Chapel by the Honourable Nehemiah Gutheridge Esq: MLC on the 5th day of August 1857 being the one and twentieth year of the reign of Her Most Gracious Majesty Queen Victoria. His Excellency Sir Henry Barkly, Knt, Governor of this Colony of Victoria; Rev J.A. Manton, President of the Conference; Rev. D.J. Draper, Chairman of the District; Rev Harrison Waddington, Superintend of the Pentridge Circuit.
Messrs: R. Sidebottom, F. Thomas, P. Dredge, A. Hurlstone, S. Jeffry, J.B.Kendell, J.Harding, Wm Kyle and D. Harding
Architect: T.J. Crouch’’
The Church was built by John Young with a seating capacity of 300. The new Gothic style building was officially opened on 24th December 1857. A wooden gallery was added in 1865 to increase the seating capacity. In August 1858, the name was changed from Pentridge Wesleyan Chapel to Pentridge Church. But the inscription of ‘Wesleyan Chapel’’ above church door fronting Sydney Road was not removed and is still visible.
The original Chapel became Sunday school from mid-1860’s. This is believed to be the earliest extant school building in Melbourne and still used as hall by present congregation.
Address: 512 Sydney Road, Corner Bell Street and Sydney Road, Coburg, Victoria, Australia