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The Joss House

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Tower of the Joss House. Courtesy of the Chelsea District Historical Society.

In spite of its name the Joss House had nothing to do with a Chinese Temple. Its proper name was Hoadley’s Hall when it was owned by Mr Hoadley of the well known confectionery firm who had purchased the building from the Melbourne Showgrounds where it had been used for displaying jams and other appropriate produce. The hall was brought to Chelsea and placed on Hoadley’s block in Main Road (now the site of a timber yard) where it served as a public hall for meetings, entertainments and for church services.

The hall was leased by the Methodist Church which in turn rented it on Sundays to the Catholic Church at 8.00 a.m., and the Church of England at 11.00 a.m.. The Methodist Church used it at 3.00 p.m. and the Spiritualists at 7.00 p.m.. Chelsea State School began in the building in 1912 and remained there until a permanent school was erected for them in Argyle Avenue in 1914. It was affectionately called the Joss House because of its oriental appearance.

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Staff and students of Chelsea State School outside the Joss House in 1913. From Leader Collection.

The building fell into disrepair and by the end of 1915 needing a coat of paint and a complete overhaul which entailed drop curtains,. dressing rooms, electric light including a pilot light on the dome. As other premises more suitable for meetings were springing up the Joss House lost its popularity to the extent that a complaint was made to the Council about its condition in June 1919 and in August of that year the Progress Association asked the Council to condemn the building. It is believed the building was sold for removal and in April 1923 Mrs Hoadley sold the land to Mrs Mason. It was an inglorious ending for a building that was such a landmark in Chelsea.

Author

Margaret Diggerson

Article Cat. Historical Features
Article Ref. 48

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