History of Glenfyne Gardens & Chapel

The Chapel

The Chapel was built in 1886 as a Methodist Church and was constructed on site at 3-9 Sinclair Street, Drouin. In 1891 a new brick church was built and the chapel became a Sunday School. By 1949 its condition had deteriorated badly through lack of maintenance and a new brick Church Hall was constructed to take its place. The chapel was sold and transported to Ripplebrook where it was restored and opened as the Ripplebrook Union Church in 1961. The furniture including pews and pulpit was donated by the Drouin Presbyterian Church. It remained in service up until the late 1970's. It again fell into disrepair and was left neglected until discovered by the Kenny Family.

The chapel was purchased by the Kenny family in 1988 for $1000 and transported to their property "Glenfyne Gardens" at 1095 Main South Road, Drouin South where it was painstakingly restored to the state in which it remains today. During the renovation the side entrance door was replaced with double lancet doors to the front porch with steps leading down into the avenue of standard roses.

The building is a typical vernacular gothic weatherboard structure with a gabled roof and internal cathedral ceiling. It has a gabled porch attached to the front and a skillion roofed vestry attached to the rear. There are three leadlight glass lancet windows on each side. A new corrugated iron roof was installed during the renovation.

The chapel is included on the Victorian Heritage Register and restrictions apply to the maintenance and usage of the building. It is historically important for its early role in the establishment of the Methodist Church in West Gippsland. It is also one of only a few surviving nineteenth century churches in the Baw Baw Shire.

The Gardens

The land on which Glenfyne Gardens is positioned was originally part of a Crown Land grant in 1895 awarded to John Nelson Brown who was a local Drouin farmer. The McEwan family purchased the property in 1936 and ran a dairy farm on 150 acres until 1957 when it was sold to the Kenny Family.

The McEwan Family built the home in 1948 in typical Art Deco style. Most of the Art Deco features have been retained and include the original light fittings, bakelite door handles, internal etched glass doors, ornate cornices and curved glass front windows.

The intrigue of the gardens is attributed to the Kennys who had been flower growers from Kalorama in the Dandenongs. They turned the property into a flower farm and opened a florist shop in Warragul. In 1960 the property was subdivided with the current 6 acres going to their son Ray Kenny. What we see today is a mature garden featuring a number of exotic European trees most of which are over 60 years old. Ray Kenny and his wife Terry designed the layout for the garden creating exquisite garden rooms with landscaped features such as the large fish pond with fountain, the rotary fountain in the open front garden and the two cosy garden nooks with concrete basket features. After relocating the chapel they created the adjacent garden surrounded by camellia trees and commenced hosting weddings in their gardens and in the restored chapel. The Kenny Family sold the property in 2008.

The lofty trees are now home to many bird species including the rare orange-bellied king parrots, crimson rosellas, blue wrens and many others. The garden is shaded in summer by cedars, Japanese maples, liquidambars, birch, beech, fir, spruce and includes stunning displays from weeping elms, flowering cherries, baulina and magnolia trees. Cypress hedges border the property on all sides.