Luc Remond
Save it! Wentworth Memorial Church
By Donald Gazzard, Vaucluse, NSW, Australia, 1965

Docomomo International became aware by Docomomo Australia that the former Wentworth Memorial Church, designed by Donald Gazzard of Clarke Gazzard and Partners in 1965, and located in Vaucluse, NSW, Australia, is at risk due to recent plans that intend its conversion into a private luxury residence and hereby the lost of its State significance as one of the most significant ecclesiastical examples of the Sydney School style of architecture.

As an opposition to these recent plans, the Friends of Wentworth Memorial Church have launched a public petition

“Designed by the late Don Gazzard, the former Wentworth Memorial Church is an iconic, though recently neglected, masterpiece of Sydney modernism. With the support of Don’s former business partner, Mark Sheldon, we are calling on Sydney Living Museums (Historic Houses Trust of New South Wales) to acquire this important site as part of their collection.

Recent plans to convert the building into a private luxury residence has drawn attention in the media and strong opposition from many members of the architectural and local community. While the development application remains under consideration by Woollahra Council, a section 60 Heritage Application for this proposal has already been considered and not granted approval by Heritage NSW. In light of these developments the property (32B Fitzwilliam Rd, Vaucluse) has since been publicly re-listed for sale, scheduled for virtual auction at 6pm Monday September 14th, offering new hope for the site to be reclaimed. ” Some details about what would signify the conversion of the church into private luxury house are give by the following news.

Already listed as state heritage for its State significance as a memorial to fallen WWII soldiers and “as one of the most significant ecclesiastical examples of the Sydney School style of architecture, which came to prominence in the 1960s. The listing also includes a collection of moveable heritage including purpose- designed pews, furniture, artworks and metalware by significant Twentieth century artists such as Darani Lewers, Helge Larsen and Mona Hessing. These items contribute to the State heritage significance of the Church.

The Wentworth Memorial Church is widely considered to be the finest surviving work in the Sydney School style of the important mid to late Twentieth Century Architect Donald Gazzard (1929-2017). Gazzard was the inaugural winner of the Wilkinson Prize for domestic architecture in 1961 and widely regarded as of prominence in the field of architecture.

The church is [further] of State significance for its association with Vaucluse Estate of noted colonial explorer, poet journalist and politician William Wentworth and his family who developed the estate from 1827. The rocky outcrop where the church is now located was a favourite spot for William Wentworth to view his estate and was also where he chose to be buried as evidenced by the Wentworth mausoleum on the opposite side of this outcrop. The church represents a final phase in the historical development of the Vaucluse Estate, being the last built work associated with the family of William Charles Wentworth (c.1790 – 1872) and the fulfilment of the Wentworth family’s long held intention to consecrate the land and erect a church.”

This said, it deserves a dignified future that all Sydneysiders can enjoy for years to come. “As a significant and unique piece of modernist architecture, tied closely to the story of the Wentworth family, the Wentworth Memorial Church would make a logical and compelling addition to Sydney Living Museum’s current portfolio.
The Wentworth Memorial Church has the potential to make new and valuable cultural contributions to our city if preserved for public use. If you share in our hope and belief that this building can and should become more than simply another private luxury residence, we implore you to sign up below and share this petition with friends, family and colleagues!”

So Docomomo International is willing to raise attention on the risk that the former Wentworth Memorial Church is facing and support the initiative of the Friends of Wentworth Memorial Church association.

Please sign the petition on:

More information at Docomomo Australia website and on the Friends of Wentworth Memorial Church Facebook.