Mechanics Institute, Lansdowne Crescent

Information from a sheet distributed by George Self Property when the hall was unsuccessfully offered for sale on 4th February 2011



First established in Scotland in the early 1800s, Mechanics’ Institutes were originally adult education facilities, providing lectures and libraries for the working classes. The model was enthusiastically adopted by communities and governments in the British colonies, and by the end of the 19th century few self-respecting Australian towns did not have an Institute or a School of Arts; in the 1880s there were as many as 250 in New South Wales alone.

However, with the growth of free, secular and universal school education, the Institutes’ role changed, with many becoming municipal libraries, technical colleges, or, more commonly, community halls.

Dating from around 1890, 117 Lansdowne Crescent began life as the West Hobart Mechanics’ Institute, and it retains the generous size and elegant proportions of a classical Victorian public building.

Over the years it has been the scene of countless political and club meetings and amateur theatrical and musical productions (many older local residents remember performing on its stage) as well as dances and other social events.

More recently the capacious Supper Room at the rear has been renovated as a residence, and the hall used as a studio by Heather B. Swann, a highly-regarded contemporary sculptor. (She is represented in the National gallery of Australia, Artbank and La Trobe University collections).

Mrs Swann completed her studies at the University of Tasmania in the 1990s.”


George Self Property – Sales brochure 4 February 2011

Interior of the Hall
Residence at rear of Hall
Residence at rear of the Hall

Ceiling rose decorations on Hall ceiling

View towards the stage

Caption here

View toward the stage

View toward the stage

View towards rear doors

An excerpt from Joan Goodrick’s book – West Hobart Story

– Page 49
“The Community Hall located in Lansdowne Crescent was built in 1880. Included in the building were Supper Rooms and at the rear, a Caretaker’s Cottage.

Hobart City Council

State Archives


The Mercury (Hobart, Tas. : 1860 – 1954)
Wednesday 30 May 1934  Page 10

Dr A N Lewis continued his election campaign at Lansdowne Crescent Hall last night by a talk on Tasmanian  development. This was illustrated by a set of lantern slides. He commented on the fact that Tasman, one of the world’s greatest explorers, sailed away    from Tasmania believing that it offered  no possibilities for trade. What has been done since Tasman’s time, said the speaker’ has been the result of  courage, initiative and hard work. The solution of all our troubles is the economic utilisation of the waste land. Better use must be made under  compulsion if necessary of the land already opened up. The proper employment of each district according to its nature and capabilities was essential but mixed farming produced the surest safeguard against partial failure of crops or markets. Dr Lewis advocated the expenditure of an annual sum on the investigation of the economic possibilities of the button grass plains. The  address concluded with many slides illustrating Tasmania’s undeveloped  tourist possibilities particularly in the  Port Davey region.”

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