National TV audience for Dawson Street reno

October 23, 2020 BY

What’s your connection?: The Dawson Street Baptist church has lived many lives. Its latest is a home, created under the watch of an ABC TV crew. Photo: EDWINA WILLIAMS

IF the walls could talk at number three Dawson Street, they would tell tales of baptisms and weddings, fine dining, and nights of partying to dance music.

They could also share some more recent action.

The old Baptist church has been restored over the last few years by owner, Michael Whitehead, and the construction project will be presented in the ABC’s latest series of Restoration Australia, hosted by architect and historian, Stuart Harrison.

Derelict for more than a decade and a home to vermin, Mr Whitehead relished the chance to show some love to the CBD icon, known for its former church, nightclub and restaurant days, and its column façade.

“Our focus was to honour the architecture of the building while also creating a liveable, modern residence,” he said.

“We not only retained and restored the building’s striking roman columns, but have also incorporated the original Baptism pit as a feature of the main living area,” he said.

Builder Nat Twaits arrived on the scene when it was only “dirt floors with four walls,” following some previous preparation and labouring work.

He said Restoration Australia visited about five times, showing the project at varying stages of completion.

“We rang them before we laid the hydronically heated floor, which is very unique in Australia, and they came up, filming us putting it down,” Mr Twaits said.

“They came back when it was all framed up and watched my crew, then when it was all plastered, when structural steel was going in, when we put the double-glazed glass windows in, and then the final.”

He’s rapt that Ballarat can see what became of the church they feel connected to, with fond memories of its previous lives.

“I have a passionate team and we’re really proud. The response has already been astronomical on Facebook. It’s the best advertising we could get.”

Restoration Australia is airing on Sunday nights, 7.40pm.