The Restoration

Rising from the rubble

The dream

Huge undertaking

 

As you can imagine, the renovation was no minor (or ordinary for that matter) project, with the cost topping $2 million.​

Owner Michael Whitehead has brought the place back to life and he knows it was worth every cent. Dr Whitehead has been working on the restoration since 2019 and decided to ‘altar’ as he saw fit in a bid to save one of Ballarat’s most beautiful buildings.​

The property was derelict for more than a decade and Dr Whitehead relished the chance to show some love to the CBD icon, famous for its column façade.

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

“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.”​

Heritage legacy

A place to stay

The past has been preserved at Battista in one of the most unique ways possible.

The main house is a “box within a box”, capitalising on the cavernous space of the church walls. Heritage protectbions meant nothing in the entire development could touch either the inside or outside walls. As a result, the three-bedroom main housed is essentially a glass box sitting atop massive open plan living areas.

Natural light leads the way and the huge windows and vaulted ceilings are breathtaking. Glass walls give an uninterrupted view of the fabric of the old building.​ 

New skylights have been added to the church to bring sunlight into what was once a cavernous and dark space. They are powered by solar panels to allow them to open and close.

The original church was gaslit, and the wiring of 150 years was torn out and re-established. The trusses were reinforced and straightened to take the massive weight of the slate roof once more.​

The construction project was presented on the ABC’s latest series of Restoration Australia, hosted by architect and historian, Stuart Harrison. You can check it out here