Ararat Mechanics' Institute. Established in 1859, first built on the Barkly Street site in 1869. The Mechanics’ Institute movement began in British urban industrial centres in the early 1800s. A “mechanic” was a person applying skills and technology. During the 19th century, most towns in Victoria established a Mechanics’ Institute or Athenaeum with a library and meeting hall. Common objects were the “spread of useful knowledge” and provision for “rational recreation” in the community. The 1869 building was rebuilt in 1889, and again in 1908. The Federation style building with its corrugated iron roof, red brick walls, timber windows and doors, and finely decorated parapet, is a feature of the streetscape. In its early years it had an extensive library, and held music classes, lectures and penny readings. In the 1980s the top floor became the venue for the Rosengreen School of Dance with dance teacher Stella Rosengreen. Stella died in 1997, but a Dancing School continues with about 200 students, and a Hairdressing Salon operates downstairs. David Rosengreen joined the Committee in the 1980s. Now Secretary/Treasurer, and with Alan Wetton, President, he has continued to work tirelessly to keep the Institute functioning. This plaque, No.56 in the MIV series, is dedicated to David Rosengreen in recognition of his lifetime of service to the local community. December 2016.
Barkly Street, Ararat, Victoria
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by Mechanics' Institutes of Victoria Inc. #0056 of the MIV Historical Plaques Program series