South Melbourne Temperance Hall is now home to Phillip Adams BalletLab – a leading contemporary dance company. Working closely with BalletLab, Working Heritage carried out repair and improvement works throughout 2016 to enable the tenants to move in and begin utilising the building.
The Emerald Hill Total Abstinence Society – just one of the influential temperance movements that shaped social life in nineteenth-century Melbourne – built a hall on this site in 1863.
As well as the Abstinence Society, the hall was used by a large number of social clubs, political parties and societies, and hosted events such as alcohol-free concerts, dances and performances. Groups using the hall included the YMCA, the South Melbourne Thistle Club, the South Melbourne Harmonic Society, the Emerald Hill branch of the Labor Party and friendly societies such as the Manchester Unity Independent Order of Oddfellows. The South Melbourne Football Club is said to have formed at a meeting held in the hall in 1874. By 1880, the hall was able to accommodate up to 400 people.
In 1888, the double-storey lodging and a lecture hall was finished, bringing the building to its current day form.
The Anthill theatre made the space their home in th 1980s and from that point the building has had an association with the performing arts.
Working Heritage was appointed to manage the hall in 2012.
Phillip Adams BalletLab plan to make 'Temperance Hall' a leading interdisciplinary arts space and are raising money to carry out further improvement works on the building. Working Heritage will continue conservation works over the coming years to ensure the building continues to be an asset to the cultural life of Melbourne.
Historical information courtesy of City of Port Phillip. Photographs by Peter Glenane.
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