Owner of one of Australia's premier antiques galleries, Peter Valentine hopes his business' relocation to View Street will catapult the precinct into a must-see Bendigo destination and go hand-in-hand with a visit to the Bendigo Art Gallery, La Trobe Art Institute and Capital Theatre.
In May, Mr Valentine's eponymous third-generation antiques gallery relocated to the Sandhurst Trustees Building, recognised for its historical, architectural and aesthetic significance.
Established in 1947, Valentine's Antique Gallery embarked on a new chapter in its history earlier this year, when it moved from Hargreaves Street to the centre of Bendigo's arts and culture scene on View Street.
Mr Valentine said he is a mere custodian of the heritage building, which was built in 1867 as the former Sandhurst Post and Telegraph Office.
"The architecture here is just exquisite," Mr Valentine said.
"We have such a passion for Australian history and architecture, so to find this site, it was like a gold mine for us.
"It will allow us to operate as one of Australia's better antique businesses."
The building's grandeur, highlighted by its masonry structure, features an intact nineteenth century interior, noted for its well crafted joinery and plasterwork.
"The building really showcases the history and wealth of Bendigo," Mr Valentine said.
"As we renovated and opened it up, not many people had seen the building without the offices that it housed during the last 70 years.
"It's undoubtedly one of Bendigo's best buildings."
Exuding ambition, Mr Valentine has expanded his venture to include new facets, while specialising in fine quality nineteenth century English and French glassware, porcelain, boxes, furniture, jewellery and decorative items.
A newly renovated space includes 24 individual showcases, leased to specialist dealers.
We have such a passion for Australian history and architecture, so to find this site, it was like a gold mine for us.- Peter Valentine, owner Valentine's Antique Gallery
"There are showcases in military, coins, ceramics, glassware and jewellery, among others," Mr Valentine said.
"The dealers of these wares are all professionals in their own right, with everything properly cleaned, ticketed and presented."
The gallery's artist's hub is significantly expanded, where five working artists now ply their trade.
"We have artists in embroidery and photography, while others work in clothing and jewellery," Mr Valentine said.
"The onsite working artists are very forthcoming with their information and knowledge.
"The experience is very hands-on for visitors, who can talk to the artists and see how they create their works, before the finished products hang on the walls."
An enthusiasm for Australian art is noted in the array of works on display, including prominent pieces by Norman Lindsay, Hans Heysen and John Olsen.
A nineteenth century Italian marble sculpture greats patrons when they enter the View Street gallery and is a sight to behold, Mr Valentine said.
The sculpture, depicting a young boy standing on a pedestal, was the work of Italian Pietro Bazzanti.
From next year, monthly lectures will be conducted in the main grand boardroom, each specialising in unique subject matter.
"We will have specialist lecturers coming in to give talks about silver, porcelain, art, jewellery, interior design and much more," Mr Valentine said.
"It will be an education centre and give people a chance to see the beautiful products on display."
At the rear of premises, a coffee and lounge space, featuring second-hand Moran and Gascoigne Chesterfield sofas offers the perfect vantage point for people to sit and contemplate their purchases.
Valentine's Antique Gallery is located at 16-22 View Street, and is open Tuesday to Saturday, 10am-5pm and Sunday 11am-4pm.
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