About March 1858, the government decided to create a township near the creek that had given its name to the district (Pleasant Creek).
On June 11, 1858 the Township of Stawell was proclaimed, but it was some years before the official name of Stawell was commonly used in favour of the unofficial Pleasant Creek.
The first streets laid out were Burgh, Leslie, Longfield and Cooper streets, all crossed by Austin, Griffith, Seaby and Foster streets.
This area is now generally known as Stawell West.
On February 29, 1860 a block of land bounded by Seaby, Longfield, Griffith and Leslie streets was reserved for Public Purposes and from then on the first permanent civic buildings in Stawell began to be erected.
By the late 1860s the Post and Telegraph Office, the Pleasant Creek Court House (now the Stawell Historical Society Museum) the Shire Hall and the Police Camp had all been established.
The Ararat and Pleasant Creek Advertiser reported on April 4, 1866 that a meeting had been held in the Constitution Hotel, Longfield Street to establish a Literary and Scientific Institute.
The society would be established for literary and scientific purposes, but was also intended to embrace all the advantages of a Mechanics Institute.
lt was not until May 12, 1868 that the Advertiser reported the Stawell Literary Institute was currently being erected in a central position next to the Shire Hall.
It was described as being two levels with the interior divided into a reading room and a library on the ground floor, and upstairs were a lecture room and classrooms available for public meetings and so on.
At the time the library comprised 400 books and had some 40 subscribers.
The building was constructed at an estimated cost of 300 pounds, which was nearly all subscribed.
For about five months from July 1869, the institute building was the home of a private grammar school, which moved into its own building in Smith Street in December 1869.
lt is possible that the declining population of the Township of Stawell could not support the Literary and Scientific Institute and a decision was made to sell the building.
The population of the township was only around 500, while one mile away, on the western slope of Big Hill there were about 6000 people congregating at the booming quartz reefs.
Wilkinson Wayman, a businessman with a brass foundry and engineering works, who later became involved in educating young people at the School of Mines and Design, purchased the building in October 1876.
He lived there until his death in October 1901.
The building remained privately owned and is currently the 1868 cafe Stawell.
Visit our museum, you will be surprised at what we have on display. Admission is just $5 for adults and $1 for students.