The foundation stone for the Uniting Church, Castlemaine was laid by the Premier of Victoria, Sir James Patterson on June 22nd 1894 and the building was officially opened on 16th December 1894. The church was built as a Presbyterian Church by Mr Shillabeer to a design by the Ballarat architect Charles Figgis. It is a red brick building with cement dressings and a Welsh slate roof. Picturesquely planned with an asymmetrical front facade, it is situated on one of Castlemaine's highest points. The assembling room behind the vestries was built in 1990. Stained glass from the former Wesleyan Methodist church in Castlemaine was relocated in this area, including a window depicting a local preacher on the Forest Creek goldfields during the 1850s which had been originally installed in 1935.
The Uniting Church is of architectural, historical and aesthetic significance to the state of Victoria.
The Uniting Church is aesthetically important for the decorative detail of its exterior and interior. Significant elements include the tympanum over the central doorway featuring decorative tilework and a centre panel with the Presbyterian symbol of the burning bush; the front gable with its ogee label mould and two-mullioned window of Early English tracery, surmounted by a St Andrew's Cross in cement; and the tower terminating in a copper, octagonal broached spire. Significant interior features include the angled transepts with their hexagonal hipped roofs, designed to accommodate the amphitheatre-like seating; and the kauri and oregon timberwork, including the dado boards, the pulpit, the pews and the hammerbeam trusses of the ceiling alternately constructed of timber and timber and iron.
The church is architecturally significant as an example of a remarkably eclectic design by the architect Charles Figgis. It illustrates the eclectic architectural philosophies of the mid to late 1890s. It draws on a range of influences: the tympanum over the central doorway with the decorative tilework is derived from French Romanesque sources, the tower is more French Gothic in influence, while the massing and roof form are more Italian Gothic in style.
However, it is the combination of these elements that make this church an important example of its time. It also represents a move away from the earlier formal church architecture towards a more romantic or picturesque style.
The Uniting Church, Castlemaine is historically important as a rare example of church architecture from the mid to late 1890s when church building went through a period of decline.