(26/11/2018) Town Hall restoration the best in the nation
The meticulous restoration of the historic Fremantle Town Hall has taken out a national construction industry award.
McCorkell Constructions, the City of Fremantle’s contractor on the $3.1 million project, won the ‘National Commercial Historical Restoration/Renovation’ award at the Master Builders Australia National Excellence in Construction awards on the weekend.
The 2018 MBA National Awards Dinner was held on Saturday at the Adelaide Convention Centre.
The Town Hall restoration became eligible for the national awards after winning the state award in July. The project was also recognised with a WA Heritage Award earlier this year.
Fremantle Mayor Brad Pettitt said everyone involved in the Town Hall project should be proud of their achievement.
“The Town Hall is obviously a very important building for Fremantle and one that we all cherish,” Mayor Pettitt said.
“The level of skill and attention detail that was required to return the Town Hall to its original splendour was quite remarkable, so for the project to be recognised as the best historical restoration in Australia is a well-deserved reward.”
The restoration of the 130-year-old Town Hall, which was completed in May 2017, was the largest heritage conservation project ever undertaken by the City of Fremantle.
It reinstated the building’s traditional appearance by stripping the paint off the walls to reveal the original stucco exterior, and also included reconstructing the slate roofs and refurbishing the historic clock.
A further $250,000 has been allocated to begin restoring the interior of the building.
The recent demolition of the adjoining 1960s City of Fremantle administration building has revealed the rear walls of the Town Hall for the first time in around 120 years.
City Heritage Officer Gena Binet said the original limestone on the east facing wall was in much better condition than anticipated.
“We could not conserve or inspect the rear walls of the Town Hall during our recent external conservation project because they were hidden by the old administration buildings,” Ms Binet said.
“We were concerned they may have been damaged when the 1960s building was built or that they may have been rendered with cement, which would have caused the stone to deteriorate.
“This part of the wall is like a time capsule recording how the building has changed over the years. You can see where new openings have been made and then blocked up, plus the scars of earlier structures like fire escape stairs.
“However, we are puzzled by one of the blocked up openings - the upper level one closest to the High Street Mall. It doesn’t seem to serve any purpose, so if anyone has any ideas why it’s there we’d love to hear from them.”