Melbourne Area House That Used To Be a Church Hall Sells For $6 Million

Australian architect Ilana Kister gave the 19th-century structure a modern overhaul

The 1874 Gothic Revival church hall was converted into a four-bedroom house.

Courtesy of Nelson Alexander


By Adrienne Gaffney via Mansion Global

A former church in suburban Melbourne, Australia, has garnered a record price, according to the property’s list agent, after being converted into a residential home.

The seller was its architect, Ilana Kister, who lived in the home while overseeing a renovation that transformed the 1874 Gothic Revival church hall into a four-bedroom house. Ms. Kister bought the home in 2012 and spent two years on the renovation. It was listed earlier this summer for A$5.8-A$6.38 million (US$4.62-$5.08 million.) and sold on Aug. 14.

The sale price was not disclosed, but listing broker Rick Daniel of Nelson Alexander Real Estate told Mansion Global that it was north of A$6 million (US$4.78 million), adding that it was the most expensive residential building sold in Melbourne’s inner north region.

Mansion Global could not independently confirm the sale broke a record.

Ms. Kister’s creation is a 7,750-square-foot curvilinear wood and concrete home with expansive windows centered around a courtyard. It was built where the church hall once stood, adjacent to the church itself.

“I wanted to create a symbolic link between old and new, a subtle transition between the house and the former place of worship. Connecting the old and new, the circular courtyard is the site’s focus,” Ms. Kister told Mansion Global. “In the courtyard’s creation, the standard house cube has been cut away and, where it thins to a horizontal plane, the resultant canopy creates a sharp linear contrast to the rounded forms.”

Ms. Kister left the church space, with its period windows, vaulted ceilings and ornate chandelier, relatively empty to be used for flexible purposes, including entertaining. “In many ways, the church area is a blank canvas and the options are limited by one’s imagination,” Mr. Daniel said.

The home, located in the town of Collingwood, which borders East Melbourne, features a 55-foot solar heated pool, roof garden and four-car garage. The home’s lower level has expansive, free-flowing living and dining spaces and both floors have floor to ceiling windows looking out onto the courtyard swimming pool.

“Living areas on both levels are flooded with northern light, which generates a play of light and shade within and blurs the boundaries between inside and out. The upper level is set back and overlooks the courtyard and a roof garden. The clarity of detail and pared back finishes throughout create a clean Modernist aesthetic that elicits a sense of calm, in contrast to the bustle of the urban surrounds,” Ms. Kister said.

Mr. Daniel said that despite international interest, the home was sold to a local from a nearby suburb of Melbourne.