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Steeped in history, the Uniting Church of Moonta Mines is one of the few heritage-listed public buildings still standing tall in this historic town on the Copper Coast.
Built during the mining boom in 1865, the church which is also home to a grand pipe organ that’s 134 years old, has recently been put up for sale and is seeking expressions of interest from prospective buyers.
According to The Uniting Church in Australia’s website, the pipe organ was installed in 1888 at a cost of 258 pounds. In recent times, it has undergone restoration which was made possible by a financial grant from the government and patrons of the church.
According to Reverend June Ladner, a Uniting Church Minister whose family had lived in the area for generations, the Pipe Organ is on the must-see list of tourists visiting Moonta Mines.
“We have visitors from all across Australia,” said Reverend Ladner who also volunteers as a guide on Saturday afternoons at the church.
“The Organ is much more than 130 years old because the church had bought it second hand as a collection of pipes,” she said.
Even during the restoration process, the original paint was left untouched. “The reason for this was that the boys who pumped the bellows had carved their initials into the wooden case that surrounds the pipes,” Reverend Ladner said.
These boys, the website states, received one shilling (10 cents) a week for these duties.
“The ties between church and the people who left when the mines closed down has passed down through generations. Even though it’s distant, people have come back to see where perhaps their grandparents were married or they themselves were baptised,” said Reverend Ladner.
Sitting on an allotment of 2,820sqm, the church could originally accommodate 750 people but as the number of worshippers grew over the years, an upper level gallery was added in 1872. Today, the church can seat 1,250 people.
Also on the site are other buildings including a hall, storeroom, kitchen and museum.
The interiors of the church, including a gallery level, pews, pulpit joinery, ceiling vents and other liturgical fittings dating to the 19th century, are in good condition with little modernisation.
In light of the heritage and history of the property, an Expression of Interest process has been established via Bronte Wilson, Moderator of the Uniting Church in SA.
“We acknowledge the significance of this historic building and its importance to the local community and have ensured that within the EOI process there is attention given to the desire from the Moonta Mines Faith Community to continue to use the building for worship,” Mr Wilson said.
He further added that Heritage SA have also been consulted and they have allocated an officer who is available to provide heritage advice to any potential purchasers.
Tim Hosking of Harris Real Estate who is presenting the church to market said that buyers will have to be mindful of church’s rich history and significance.