The iconic Thomas hadens church at the heart of the South Yarra is a prime example of the power of the artist and the artistic community to unite the community.
In the 1930s, the church was built on the site of a former train station that was then part of a busy residential street.
Its grand, circular structure with steeple, stained glass windows and a roof that looked out onto the Yarra River was built as a place of worship for the growing population of the city’s working class.
The artist and his wife, Martha, opened the church in 1937 and it quickly became a community centre for artists, musicians and poets.
In its heyday, the chapel was a place for families to gather for singing, dancing and other communal gatherings.
It hosted performances by the likes of Bob Dylan, the Rolling Stones, the Allman Brothers and others.
The arts community grew around the church, including the local theatre, the Yarran Theatre, the Theatre Royal, and the local cinema.
Its colourful walls, marble floors and large, glass windows were decorated with the work of local artists.
The museum and gallery also has a large collection of art and crafts from around the country and overseas.
But in the 1960s, Thomas hadENCE became one of the main venues for artists to showcase their work in the Yarraland community.
In the late 1970s and 1980s, as the city grew and the art community expanded, the space was filled with art exhibitions, concerts, film screenings, and a growing art gallery.
But the church continued to attract artists and was eventually sold.
It was eventually demolished in 2008, with a giant glass wall at the front of the building erected as a memorial.
The church has been restored to its former glory and now hosts a museum and exhibition space.
Its history has been largely forgotten but its significance to the Yarramas community continues to resonate.
Tomas Haden has written about the Yarrapans for almost a decade.
He is a journalist and former editor of the Yarabra Times and the South Australian Country Times.