New lease on life for heritage floor

Published on 10 September 2021

Hertiage Hall.jpg

Horsham Town Hall’s auditorium is set to receive a new floor thanks to a grant from the Victorian Government’s Living Heritage program.

First opened in 1939, the auditorium has been Horsham’s premier venue for public functions, including wedding receptions, fashion shows, debutante balls, concerts and trade shows.

But its floor has reached the end of its life and is now due to be replaced, with the boards no longer being able to be sanded, and sub-floor issues seeing the floor sinking at the rear.

Horsham Rural City Council’s Co-ordinator Strategic Planning and Heritage Stephanie Harder notes the extreme care taken to ensure the heritage values of the floor remain intact.

“The grant received through the Living Heritage program will see the removal of all the existing floorboards, and a replacement like-for-like floorboards. After scientific analysis, the original floorboards have been identified as Mountain Ash. Care will be given to ensure the wood varnish applied draws out the same light yellow and pale pink colours of the floorboards seen today,” she said.

“The sub-floor, including the stumps and joists will also be replaced, and issues relating to former water damage under the floor will be investigated.”

The new sub-floor system will be designed to minimise and mitigate movement and damage to the floor in the long term, and the like-for-like floor reconstruction ensures the traditional carpentry style and architectural qualities of the floor are protected into the future.

A section of the original sub-floor construction and floor boards will be retained at the auditorium entrance so that the earlier method of construction can be understood and ensures that the age of the floor is not misleading to future generations.

New materials and installation techniques match the old, but are still distinguishable from the original.

This important heritage conservation principle has also been applied to the re-upholstered balcony seating in the auditorium.

Once in place, the new floor will facilitate the return of large community functions and activities hosted at the auditorium and preserve the structural integrity of this State Heritage listed building.

This project follows on from extensive conservation works carried out in the Horsham Town Hall redevelopment, which included refurbishment of the gallery terrazzo floor, re-upholstering of seating in the balcony, painting with heritage colour schemes and the repair of art deco lights.

The full project budget cost is $534,715, which includes $200,000 from the Living Heritage program, and a $334,715 contribution from Council in the 2021/2022 and 2022/23 capital works program. Preparation of the floorboards will start in November 2021.

Full construction works are scheduled for November 2022. 

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