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Heritage group fights to save historic Denison Hall

Tamra CarrMidwest Times
Historic photo of Denison Hall. The building was first determined to be of heritage significance in 1998.
Camera IconHistoric photo of Denison Hall. The building was first determined to be of heritage significance in 1998. Credit: Supplied

A Mid West heritage group is urging the Irwin Shire to reverse its decision to demolish Denison Hall, a building the council says is becoming too expensive to maintain.

Denison Hall, also known as Fisherman’s Hall, was built in 1894 and is the oldest surviving public building in Port Denison.

Irwin Shire council voted to destroy the building on February 26, in part to suit foreshore development plans.

Shire president Mike Smith said insurance, maintenance and depreciations costs were also becoming prohibitive, but the Shire would still investigate ways to preserve the hall’s heritage.

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“Under my guidance, councillors will be convening shortly to workshop the concepts proposed and identify the best way to achieve preservation of the hall’s heritage significance,” he said.

“To support this workshop, the acting CEO and I have requested a meeting with the Irwin Districts Historical Society to discuss potential options.”

Society chairman Graham Grundy said his group was campaigning to have the hall transformed into a fishing museum — a move he said should not be of great cost to ratepayers.

“The society already has a large collection of items we could put on display,” he said. “Fishermen were in the building up until two years ago and they invested in its upkeep.

“The building needs some work but it’s not in so terrible condition that it can’t be reused, it’s not about to fall over.”

Mr Grundy also argued that tourism was Dongara’s biggest industry and the preservation of Denison Hall would keep people in town longer if there were more historical sites to see.

He also cautioned the Shire against establishing a foreshore “too similar” to the coastlines of other places.

“I don’t think there’s another dedicated fishing museum in WA, just maritime museums with fishing exhibits,” Mr Grundy said.

“It could be a real opportunity to enhance Dongara and Port Denison tourism.”

In 1983, Mr Grundy and the historical society successfully reversed an Irwin Shire decision to demolish the old police station, now a popular tourist site.

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