News

Vandalism at Athenaeum Hall in Mooroopna

By James Bennett

Smashed and boarded up windows, graffiti, rubbish strewn everywhere and broken floorboards.

That is unfortunately what has become of the Athenaeum Hall in Mooroopna.

The News understands the 149-year-old heritage-listed building has been abandoned since about the mid-1990s and is the target of constant vandalism.

Now members of the Mooroopna Historical Society are calling on the Greater Shepparton City Council to step in and take action.

‘‘I’m frustrated with what has happened here,’’ society secretary Barry Campbell said.

‘‘I didn’t realise how bad it was until Wednesday; I was quite taken back by what I saw.

‘‘This is a part of history having been built by a real pioneer of the town (W.S. Archer) and used by the masonic lodge as well.

‘‘This used to be our (historical society) home base for a number of years.

‘‘I would like to see this place secured and restored; and used if possible. There could be community groups that I’m sure would love to use it,’’ Mr Campbell said.

The front of the Athenaeum faces McLennan St with its front doors and windows boarded up with bricks.

The building is dangerous to enter with glass scattered over the floors, different types of junk including mattresses and a shopping trolley left to grow mould, and there’s even a broken ‘Valley Base Hospital’ sign dumped.

The exterior fence has had parts broken and the surrounding flora is overgrown.

Mr Campbell said these abandoned sites were easy targets for vandals.

‘‘I think it’s a hazard to people and not desirable for people to get a high on drugs at places like this.

‘‘There’s glass all over the place and they could easily cut themselves. I would advise anybody to stay away.’’

Mr Campbell said the old hospital adjacent from the hall had also become a target of vandalism.

‘‘The people who are doing this are just a nuisance. I know people are attracted to empty buildings,’’ he said.

‘‘I’ve been on to council to try and have the old hospital site cleaned up.’’

Greater Shepparton City Council confirmed the building is privately owned, but was unable to provide further comment to The News yesterday.