Williamstown's historic Mechanics Institute (WMI) on Electra Street, built between 1860 and 1890, has served as an educational facility, cinema, theatre, library, and more. Prior to closing, it hosted local cultural groups like the Williamstown Historical Society and the Williamstown Musical Theatre Company.

The WMI is situated near the Nelson Place waterfront, close to various landmarks like Seaworks, the Timeball Tower, and Point Gellibrand. It is conveniently located near Williamstown Town Hall, shopping districts, the Botanic Gardens, and Williamstown Beach.

Nearby facilities in the area include schools such as Williamstown High School, Williamstown Primary School, St. Mary's Primary School, and Newmark Primary School. The area also features various churches and reserves like Dennis Reserve, Fearon Reserve, Maclean Reserve, Robertson Reserve, and Commonwealth Reserve.

In 2018, buildings closed for repairs and structural maintenance was done. More work is needed for safety and building upgrades. The council plans to restore the cottage in 2024, involving stakeholders and the community to shape the WMI's future direction.

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Key priorities for the Mechanics Institute Masterplan

  • A space for community

    • Identify and maximise community benefit
    • Continue relationship with existing and new community groups
    • Opportunity for a flexible space, with innovative ways for community groups to operate
  • A proud heritage place

    • Restore and celebrate a prominent Williamstown landmark
    • Understand and interpret heritage of the site
    • Heritage and history is visible and obvious in the site
    • Adaptive reuse potential to open up the site
  • A place with economic sustainability

    • Ensure funds for ongoing maintenance costs, so the heritage building can thrive into the future
    • Increase diversity of businesses in Williamstown
    • Activate the Electra street precinct in a respectful way
  • A new destination for Williamstown

    • Attracts a wide range of visitors (local and wider)
    • A complementary character to Nelson Place and waterfront
    • Utilise different parts of the site for more active/less active uses and transition from residential uses
    • Aesthetic, local and unique character

Site History

History Timeline