Chinese Mission Church

Heritage Listed Location

196 Little Bourke Street Melbourne, Melbourne City, Victoria, Australia

Melbourne, 3000 0.5km
Southbank, 3006 1.3km
Fitzroy, 3065 1.8km
Melbourne University, 3052 1.9km
Garden City, 3207 2.3km



The Chinese Mission Church was built in 1872 by the Wesleyan Methodists and is known today as the Chinese Parish Office of the Uniting Church. The Wesleyans provided missions to the Chinese on the goldfields, and this building brought that mission into the Chinatown quarter of Melbourne. Many Chinese came to Victoria during the gold rushes of the 1850s, large numbers of whom were young men from the Canton Delta area of the southern province of Guangdong. Economic hardship and political upheaval forced many to emigrate and provide for family back in China.

The ground floor of the mission building still operates as a place of worship of the Uniting Church in Australia. The two storey building was designed in the Gothic style with simple pointed arch windows and slate roof by architects Crouch and Wilson, and is an early example of polychromatic brickwork incorporating diaper work to the facade and polychromatic voussoirs to the windows. Polychromy was introduced to Victoria by architects Reed and Barnes at St Jude’s Anglican Church in 1866 and was to be commonly employed, particularly on Methodist churches, by architects Crouch and Wilson and others until the 1880s. The contractor was James Lee. The building measures approximately 6m x 20m and has a distinct warehouse appearance. The main entrance is from Little Bourke Street via a small timber vestibule. The ground floor was originally set aside for males, and the first floor for females. The interiors are quite plain, with plastered walls, decorative cast iron wall vents, window sills set well above eye level, and the ceiling level to both floors have been lowered with false ceilings. The parish office at the rear, modified by insertion of a concrete floor, allows access to the first floor via a timber stair.


The Chinese Mission Church is of architectural and historical significance to the State of Victoria.


The Chinese Mission Church is of architectural significance as a very early example of brick polychromy in Victoria.

The Chinese Mission Church is of historical significance as an early Chinese Mission church, and demonstrates attempts by Wesleyans and other denominations in Victoria to convert local Chinese to Christianity. It is historically significant for its links to early religious and social life of Chinatown, and as a place continuously for worship and as a focal point for the Christian Chinese community since 1872. It is of historical significance for its association with Chinese settlement in Victoria and as tangible evidence of the lives and enterprises of Chinese immigrants who came in large numbers to the Victorian goldfields during the second half of the nineteenth century.

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