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Forgotten Town Halls of Marrickville

By Drew Brian Hoy

Two buildings have been known by the name Marrickville Town Hall, but neither is used for council administration today. Both buildings remain as monuments of the former council, offering a glimpse into the history of the area.

Historic buildings of Marrickville

Historic Building - the Marrickville Town Hall

The original Marrickville Town Hall, on Illawarra Road, was built in 1879. Records indicate it was built as a single-storey hall, possibly designed by Despointes Bros architects, based on a commission payment made in June 1879.

By 1882, plans had been submitted to add a second storey, with the hall proving too small after just a few years of use. The extended design is attributed to architect Cyril Blacket, of Blacket & Son. Peter Hill was noted as the contractor for the works, which were completed in 1883.

By 1911, plans were underway for a new town hall with council stating the current hall was “altogether inadequate” for the purposes of the day. Council purchased a site on Marrickville Road, which had been owned by Joseph Graham and used as a market garden. Mr Graham was well known to council, having been elected Mayor of Marrickville eight times between 1870 and 1891.

But it wasn’t until 1921, following World War I and the 1919 influenza pandemic, that the foundation stone for the new town hall was laid. A public competition had been held for the design of the building. Architect Lindsay Thompson was the winner but is jointly credited with Mansfield and Son Architects on heritage documents. Thompson left the project following the passage of time and many disputes with the council. Local builder Douglas Stuart was in charge of construction.

The last meeting at the old town hall was held on 30 January 1922, and Mayor Henry Morton opened the new town hall on 11 February 1922. An estimated 20,000 people attended the opening.

The Town Hall n Marrickville

New Town Hall in Marrickville

The new town hall was built from brick and sandstone from the nearby Undercliffe quarry. Inside, the walls are wainscoted in French polished Queensland maple, while the stairs are made from Terrazzo marble with wrought iron balustrades.

A statue of Nike, the Greek goddess of victory, was erected at the front of the building as a memorial to the 450 Marrickville residents who lost their lives during World War I. The original statue was removed in 2009 after years of deterioration. It was absent for several years before the new statue was unveiled in 2015.

Use of the new town hall by council was relatively short-lived with administration moved to Petersham in 1948 when the two councils merged. The building continued to serve the residents of Marrickville as a venue for meetings, dances and other events. The basement of the building was used as Marrickville Library until 2019 when it moved into new premises.

The original Marrickville Town Hall on Illawarra Road is currently occupied by the Greek Atlas Cultural & Community Centre. The second Town Hall on Marrickville Road remains under the ownership of Inner West Council and is available as a venue for hire.

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