On this site stood the Mechanics’ Institute Hall. The hall was officially opened on 30th October 1884 with a public ball given in honour of the occasion. The ball was a success with the guests dancing until dawn. The land was donated by Joseph Logue with the hall built of locally made red brick supplied by Edward McLarty and roofed in local shingles.
The Mechanics’ Institute served as the district’s community centre for many years and was used by locals for wedding receptions, balls, bazaars, political meetings and theatre productions. Moving picture shows could also be seen with the first full-length movie Quo Vadis being shown in January 1914. Films were shown until the mid-1960s and were only stopped due to the introduction of the television in 1959.
The Mechanics Institute
Mechanic’s Institutes were once common in many towns and functioned as the forerunner to the public library. Before television or radio, the Institute provided people with the opportunity to stay up-to-date through a communal source of newspapers and information.
The movement was created in Glasgow in 1821, with the Swan River Mechanic’s Institute founded in Hay Street in 1851.
The Changing Face of the Mechanics Institute
The 1884 hall was expanded in 1927 with the original façade simplified at that time. In the 1930s the hall was passed onto the Murray Roads Board (which became the Shire of Murray in 1961) as the Institute could not afford the upkeep of the building. Due to a rapid decline in use, in 1964 the Shire sold the building where it was converted to a supermarket, with many modifications completed at this time.
In 2013 the building was demolished to make way for the current shopping centre.
The George Street entry mirrors the original entry of the Mechanic’s Institute. The four pillars fronting the main street are clad in brick from the original hall.