Among a number of individual heritage buildings and a very few ‘precincts’, Stanley Street Toora will feature in a new publication, Heritage Places of South Gippsland, now being prepared by the South Gippsland Shire Council.
In a recent letter to 31 Stanley Street property-owners, Shire Heritage Officer Eleni Courvisanos wrote: “South Gippsland is a unique part of Victoria, and the heritage of the area makes it even more special. The heritage properties in the area, although small in number, tell the story of the individuals and the communities that settled, developed, and grew South Gippsland into what it is today. Your property has been identified as having heritage significance to the community of South Gippsland, and photos of your property, taken from public land, will be included. If … there are any particular buildings or internal features you would like to have recorded that are best photographed from inside your property, please contact Council’s Heritage Officer to arrange a site visit.”
When the owner of Toora’s old bakery complex called Eleni to arrange a visit, she was delighted to learn that rather than selected individual buildings, the entire Stanley Street Commercial Precinct had been identified as significant. This honour has been extended to just a few locations, including Falls Road in Fish Creek and another area in Korumburra. The architectural styles of the buildings in Stanley Street, as noted by a heritage specialist, are Victorian, Federation, Interwar and Postwar.
While Toora has been a very quiet town for many decades, an upside of this situation is that the piecemeal “development” that sees beautiful old buildings, both grand and humble, destroyed to make way for ad hoc new structures that are frequently without architectural merit, has in general not occurred. This has resulted in Toora having one of the most intact streetscapes in the shire, making it a very interesting destination for both locals and visitors.Only one of Stanley Street’s buildings, the former Bank of Victoria, has an individual citation. The fragile state of the façade of this building is a constant cause of distress and sadness to residents and visitors alike. It should be noted that the building is privately owned by a non-resident, and that while much work has been done by the owner on the rear and interior of the structure, the Shire of South Gippsland has no authority to intervene in its further restoration. It is to be hoped, though, that this renewed interest in the heritage value of the street may encourage the owner to complete the mammoth task of returning it to its former glory.