Heritage & Restoration
In establishing Yirranma Place, the Paul Ramsay Foundation has reimagined and breathed new life into the historic First Church of Christ, Scientist building which was first opened at 262 Liverpool St in 1927.
Designed by architectural firm Peddle, Thorp & Walker (now known as PTW), the church immediately became a local landmark, establishing a powerful urban presence that contrasts with the generally smaller scale and finer grain of the surrounding late nineteenth and early twentieth century residential buildings. It was the first building on this scale in Australia for the Christian Science movement, which originated in the nineteenth century in America.
The building is a strong example of Interwar Beaux-Arts style and demonstrates exemplary architectural skill in its design, construction, workmanship and detailing. Its scale and grandeur made it a landmark building for the Christian Science movement, and the orchestral-style organ of the church is considered to be one of the most important historic organs from the post World War I period in New South Wales.
As the size of the congregation shrank considerably following the Second World War, the complex and large auditorium became more redundant to the needs of the Church. The building was sold in 2010 to become a private residence, with adaptive reuse of the site considered from 2012.
The significant heritage of the building made preservation a critical element of the works undertaken to create today's Yirranma Place.
Some of the steps taken to protect and maintain the building's original features include:
- In situ retention of the Auditorium Organ, pews around the organ and a sample of associated furniture. Built by J.E. Dodd in 1927, with later additions in 1937 and 1961, the organ has been restored for use and will be played at recitals at Yirranma Place
- Retention of the memory of the signage ‘FIRST CHURCH OF CHRIST, SCIENTIST, SYDNEY’ above the main entrance doors
- Retention and restoration of heritage plaques and panels
- Reuse of salvaged fabric
- Display of the retained roof structure
Specific major works were undertaken as follows:
- Significant remedial building works to the corbel as well as structural repairs to cracks
- Cleaning of the organ, which has 2,180 pipes
- Recreation and featuring of the plaster skylight grilles
- Refurbishment of internal doors and door hardware
- Replacement of windows from 1970’s aluminium back to the original steel windows
- External cleaning of the render
- Refinishing of the original auditorium floor
- New roof and improved drainage
Finally, and importantly, the building's structural integrity has been strengthened by enlarging the footings and underpinning of walls, and erecting new columns in low heritage impact locations to support the existing columns. This extensive structural work will ensure that Yirranma Place survives - and thrives - for generations to come.