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    LIKE-FOR-LIKE: Horsham Rural City Council creative services leader Shana Miatke in Horsham Town Hall’s historic auditorium. The floor will be replaced for the first time since being built in 1939. Picture: PAUL CARRACHER

New life for Horsham's heritage hall

The entire September 15, 2021 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!

Decades of dances, presentations, celebrations and performances are set to enter a new chapter when contractors install a new floor in Horsham Town Hall’s historic auditorium.

The floor has experienced generations of foot traffic for everything from debutant balls, wedding receptions and fashion shows to Blue Light discos, concerts and art and trade shows since the town hall opened in 1939.

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But the floor in the state heritage-listed building is at the end of its life with sanding of ageing floorboards no longer viable as a rejuvenating option and ‘sinking’ sub-floor issues.

Horsham Rural City Council is replacing the floor as part of a $534,715 project. 

The State Government is providing $200,000 from its Living Heritage program and the council $334,715 through 2021-2022 and 2022-23 capital works allocations.

Preparation work on floorboards will start this November and full construction works are scheduled for November, 2022.

Council strategic planning and heritage co-ordinator Stephanie Harder stressed there was a need for extreme care in the project to ensure heritage values of the floor remained intact.

“The grant received through the Living Heritage program will see the removal of all the existing floorboards, and replacement like-for-like floorboards,” she said.

“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.

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

Ms Harder said a new sub-floor system would be designed to minimise and mitigate long-term movement and damage to the floor and the like-for-like floor reconstruction ensured traditional carpentry-style and architectural qualities of the floor were protected into the future. The project involves retaining a section of original sub-floor construction and the retention of floor boards at the auditorium entrance. 

This is to ensure clear understanding of earlier methods of construction and details surrounding 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. 

The council has also applied these heritage-conservation principles to re-upholstered balcony seating in the auditorium. When in place, the new floor will again be open to major functions and activities in the heritage hall, with works having preserved the structural integrity of the building.

This floor-replacement project follows extensive conservation works as part of Horsham Town Hall redevelopment. 

This has included refurbishment of a gallery terrazzo floor, re-
upholstering of seating in the balcony, painting with heritage colour schemes and the repair of Art Deco lighting.