A little district church steeped in history has been sold to a couple from out of town.
The Saint Columba Church at Middle Arm, some 10km from Goulburn, attracted keen attention when it went to auction on Saturday, February 6.
Nutrien Harcourt principal Peter Reardon said about 70 people, including 12 registered bidders, attended the onsite auction.
While bidding was keen, it failed to sell at auction. Instead a couple from the Blue Mountains negotiated a $350,000 sale just hours later.
"The buyers have renovated other churches and were looking for another project," Mr Reardon said
"Their intention is to convert it to a residence and live there permanently."
The sale included 0.4 hectares (one acre) and a building entitlement. The building features a bell tower, Kauri pine floorboards and ceilings and lead-light windows
He told The Post that country churches typically created great interest and were usually very well built with attractive features.
Saint Columba was built in the early 1930s, replacing the former timber structure used by the Primitive Methodists.
District historian Edith Medway's great-grandfather, Robert Grubb, owned land nearby and established The Forest Cemetery below the church in 1873. He also built the first timber church used by the Primitive Methodists.
But the Anglicans purchased it in the 1930s and decided to build a new structure on the same site. Mrs Medway said Bert Chisholm, the son of Dame Alice Chisholm, was the designer.
The Goulburn Evening Penny Post of July 16, 1935 reported that the church was full two days earlier for its consecration by Bishop Ernest Burgmann.
"The church is a concrete building of nave and chancel with a low saddle-back tower," the report stated.
"It was built in 1930 upon the site of the old wooden church purchased from the Methodists, and it was designed by Mr Bertram Chisholm. The debt incurred in its erection was recently cleared."
A font, lectern, prayer desk and altar were dedicated.
Mrs Medway said it was quite an achievement to build the structure amid the Great Depression. She recalled a story that Gordon Cameron, who owned the land, fell off its roof in the 1930s.
"I never attended church there it but I always had a fascination with it because it was built on my people's place," she said.
Local builder Jock Robertson bought the church in 2007/08. He said he was attracted to the building, which was reasonably priced, and intended restoring it. However he only replaced the tower's roof in the end.
Mr Robertson he didn't attend Saturday's auction but was very pleased with the result. The property attracted strong interest from Sydney, Wollongong, Canberra, the Southern Highlands and locally.
"It's a special building," he said.
Meantime, Mr Reardon told The Post that many rural properties were selling before they hit the market, thanks to a database of potential buyers.
"With COVID-19, people are reflecting on their decisions to live in the cities and realising there won't be overseas travel for some time," he said.
"They are very keen to buy properties here and they're coming from all over - Sydney, Wollongong and the south coast."
A mix of eight to 16ha holdings and larger ones for livestock were being snapped up.
Mr Reardon said rural property prices had increased 20 to 30 per cent in the past year, while the median house price in Goulburn had risen about $50,000 to $450,000.
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