BLOCK 14 | On this day in 1840, the foundation stone of the Collins Street Wesleyan Church was laid by the Rev. Benjamin Hurst.
Port Phillip Gazette, Wednesday, 13 May 1840:
On Monday last, the foundation stone of a new place of worship for the service of the Wesleyan Methodists was laid by the Rev. Hunt [ Rev. Hurst ], on the Government reserve allotment, which forms the corner of Collins and Queen Streets. A number of people assembled to witness the ceremony.
Among the earliest Settlers of Port Phillip were some families of Methodists. Near the end of 1836 or the beginning of 1837, these formed themselves into a Society.
The first Wesleyan Chapel, a small brick Church, holding 150 Persons, was the first place of worship erected in the Colony. It stood at the NW corner of Swanston Street and Flinders Lane [ Block 5 ], and was built by Mr. John Jones Peers, upon his own land, and leased by him on trust for a Church at a nominal rent. Before the lease terminated, a new Church was erected at the NW corner of Collins and Queen Streets on Block 14, and Mr. Peers cancelled the lease.
The Rev. William Simpson had been deputed by the Van Diemen’s Land District meeting to visit Port Phillip. Referring to this, he says “ A most eligible piece of land has been reserved by the Sydney Government for the purpose of a Chapel, with an intimation, however, that it will not be secured to the Society until funds to the amount of £300 are actually raised and deposited in one of the Banks. In consequence of this and inasmuch as attempts are now being made by the gentry of the town to obtain the land for other public purposes. I thought it necessary to endeavour to secure the land to the Society at once. I accordingly called together a few of the friends, six of whom volunteered to raise £50 each by the second Tuesday in January and to write to Mr. MacKenny immediately to obtain a grant. So that I hope there is no danger of our losing so valuable a plot of ground”
The land being secured, no time was lost in commencing the building. The foundation stone was laid by the Rev. Benjamin Hurst on the 11th of May 1840. The Church was of Brick 47ft [ 14.3 m ] by 57ft [ 17.3m ], the design Gothic, and was prepared by Mr. Peers and for that period of the Colony it was a bold and noble enterprise for so small a community. The Church was opened on Thursday, 24 Jun 1841.
The Church was later demolished and The Bank of Australasia was built on the site at 394 Collins Street in 1876.