This small brick and stone cottage was initially erected by Joseph F. Taylor Snr. without a verandah in approximately 1875 for George and Susan Marshall on land that was originally offered for sale as a township allotment at the Border Inn on 22 February 1870.
George established a blacksmith’s shop in Graham street and he and Susan raised seven children in the small cottage until it was sold to Mary Ann Taylor in 1893, following Susan’s death in 31 May 1891.
Bacchus Marsh Heritage Study 1995
In the Bacchus Marsh Heritage Study 1995, the authors, Richard Peterson and Daniel Catrice, noted that it was one of only sixteen early houses surviving in the former Bacchus Marsh Shire (now part of the Moorabool Shire). The following description of the building was recorded in that study:
‘Red brick (tuckpointed at the front), double-fronted symmetrical early house with a gabled roof across, terminating at a chimney at each end of the ridge. There are decorative scalloped bargeboards. It has a stone quoins at the corners and, a low, concave hip timber verandah with a cast-iron lace valance and brackets. There is a diamond shaped quarry tile pavement to the verandah and threshold and cills are stone. The four-panel door and knob survive. The verandah retains its end decorative valance, to the right. There is a skillion addition at the rear. There is a gabble-roofed timber outbuilding (the former kitchen?) with two substantial chimneys.’
Remains of Historical Iron Church
It went on to state that the cottage had local historical significance being built in 1870 and was a ‘representative embodiment of the way of life in early Bacchus Marsh’. It assessed the Cottage’s condition as ‘Good’, noting that the walls had been painted. In the citation it also noted, in detail, how the remnants of the original prefabricated Iron Church that was erected for the Church of England in 1855 on Gisborne Road was also located on the property behind the cottage, where it was used as a shed. The only known surviving prefabricated iron church in Victoria and the earliest surviving church in Bacchus Marsh.
It went on to state:
‘The former “Iron Church” is of state historical significance as an extraordinary and pioneering embodiment of a way of life in its religious practice in the earliest years of the Colony and of the settlement at Bacchus Marsh. It is of state architectural significance as a rare survival of this building type and technology. It also offers evidence of changing attitudes to conservation practice’.
The remnants of the “Iron Church” was assessed as in poor condition.
Fast forward to 2020 (quarter of a century later) and a picture does tell a thousand words.
With such a significant assessment of this unique local heritage site, is this really what the community wants? How does this reflect on our community’s collective identity – especially with respect to our early European settlement heritage? Clearly, the assessment of its condition can no longer be considered as GOOD. The state of disrepair to these two rare and unique heritage buildings is significant. The neglect is not only visibly measurable, but it serves as a sobering reminder of what precious few historical buildings remain within the district.