An intriguing piece of Ararat's history has been secured courtesy of a state government grant and the tireless lobbying of Friends of J Ward members.
More than $70,000 will go towards preserving a painting of a ship on the wall of J Ward Goal and Lunatic Asylum that dates back over 130 years.
Friends of J Ward member and former president Ken Richie said the group had been eager to secure the painting's future for some time, and initially sought to preserve two others along with it.
"I think it was about 20-odd years ago the committee at the time looked into having them preserved," he said.
"At the time they were told it would cost about $35,000, and even then they couldn't guarantee it would last, so they decided to let it go.
"But just recently we decided to have a go at it, and fortunately Heritage Victoria gave us a $55,000 grant through its Living Heritage Program.
"We'll put $18,000 of our own towards that because we believe it will cost $73,000 to get it preserved."
Mr Richie said the process of preserving the mural will be quite intensive.
"It takes a while to do because first of all, they have to make sure there are no biological hazards under it," he said.
"They will have to make sure the concrete repointing is at an acceptable standard because if it is not that can be just as destructive as anything else."
It is unknown who painted the mural, and whether they were a prisoner, guard, or at the goal in some other capacity.
What is known is that it was originally painted no later than 1886, while J Ward was still a goal, as this is the first time it is mentioned in any records.
Mr Richie said more is known about the mural's restoration.
"We do believe that it was touched up by one of the patient's here in the 1960s, probably as part of his therapy," he said.
"So, we don't believe that is the original paint on the top, but they will try and dig down to analyse the original paint for historic purposes.
"Heritage Victoria said even the fact it was touched-up 60 years ago by a patient is historically interesting."
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