Stawell Mechanics Institute – New Chapter

When Gordon Williamson, his brother Andrew, and wife Michelle purchased the old Mechanics Institute in Main Street Stawell, it was the realisation of a dream that Gordon had been nursing for many years.

“I always wanted to convert an old building, and when COVID lockdowns hit, I had time to do the research. I first saw the building online and immediately started imagining what it could be,” said Gordon, owner of the building.

Despite his excitement, Gordon didn’t just jump in, first he and his wife Michelle bought a house that he converted into a B&B to test the water.

“I wanted to get a feel for the area, what it was like to be a host, the possibilities and difficulties and what council was like to work with.

“We have a local team, Indi and Lauchlan from Grampian Pressure Cleaning, doing the cleaning and maintenance and we couldn’t be happier, they do a great job, which helped to address some of our concerns.

This was our first test, and it has worked so well, we were ready to take the plunge on the much bigger project of the Mechanics Institute building.

When it is complete, the building will boast three apartments, a restaurant and a café.

“This project has been a labour of love”, Gordon said. There have been many challenges and frustrations along the way, but I can honestly say that the Northern Grampians Shire Council team have been awesome to work with.

“They have put so much thought into their advice to me. They want it to work. Of course, there are heritage issues and codes that need to be considered at all times, so it is complex, and I have absolute confidence in them,” Gordon added.

The satisfying relationship with council and progress with the Mechanics Institute building has seen Gordon and Michelle purchase another project – 2 Wakeham Street, which they will use to stage elements of the Mechanics Institute building prior to installation.

“It’s also an amazing old workshop with a lot of history attached to it. I’m looking forward to spending more time in Stawell,” said Gordon.

“Any new business in the shire is exciting.” Northern Grampians Shire Mayor, Councillor Rob Haswell said. “And when the business involves bringing one of our beautiful old buildings back to life, we could not be happier. We love watching the progress and look forward to seeing the building when completed.

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