Balance Architecture to restore Ballarat’s original Botanical Gardens Fernery.

Victoria has a fine heritage of Botanical Gardens established in the Nineteenth Century under the stewardship of Baron Von Mueller of the Melbourne Botanical Gardens.

Aug 20, 2017 10:17:18 AM

The Ballarat Botanical Gardens were gazetted by the then Government in 1857 and developed from 1858 onwards. The land was originally known as the ‘Old Police Paddock’ site and was some 40 hectares. Balance Architecture have now been engaged to assist in restoring the original Fernery, a substantial and important feature of the Gardens first constructed in 1887. The building featured extensive ornate timber mouldings, gothic in style, and was attended by several striking marble statues of Italian origin at its entrance. [A gift of 12 such statues was originally provided in 1884 by local stockbroker Mr Thomas Stoddart.]


Ballarat was in fact ‘the city of Gold’ and the largesse from mining created many extraordinary buildings and edifices in old Ballarat. The Botanical Gardens adjoined Lake Wendouree (formerly Yuilles Swamp) and, as the 19th Century progressed, provided an elegant and well tended public park where couples and families would stroll its promenades on weekends to ‘take in the airs’. Of the buildings of that time, the most significant original building remaining in the gardens is the Statutory Pavilion housing the ‘Flight from Pompeii’ collection of sculptures.

The site was developed in three distinct sections – the Central ‘Botanic’ Gardens and two areas known as the North and South Gardens. With a strong linear design, the Central Gardens were designed with four north south promenades or walkways enabling a leisurely stroll for Victorian era families on a Sunday in their finery. The Fernery provided a lush green oasis to retreat to from the heat of the day. Once time to return home, a tramway through the park serviced visitors who could then return home in comfort.

The Ballarat Botanical Gardens received original plantings from Baron Von Mueller of the Melbourne Botanical Gardens and from Mr David Bunce of the Geelong Botanical Gardens. The Gardens were the recipient of many personal bequests in its formative days. Mr George Longley, the original curator, put such materials and bequests to good use. The Giant Redwood Avenue (Sequoiadendron Giganteum) on Wendouree Ave, planted between 1863 and 1874, as well as the avenue of ‘Horse Chestnuts’, now accommodating the ‘Prime Ministers’ Avenue, bear testament to this.

Aug 20, 2017 10:05:57 AM

From the Victorian Heritage Register…

By 1862 the first maze was built, but later removed, close to the site of the first fernery (1887), which after several alterations and additions, is still an outstanding feature of the gardens and enhanced by an adjacent water lily pond (1916). With the donation in 1884 by local stockbroker Thomas Stoddart of twelve Italian marble statues located throughout the gardens, and the construction in 1887 of the Statuary Pavilion to house the ‘Flight from Pompeii’ and four accompanying statues donated by James Thompson, the Botanical Gardens became a centrepiece of civic pride for Ballarat. From 1889 tuberose begonias were introduced into displays, beginning a tradition highlighted by the annual begonia festival from 1953 until the present.

Developments catering for increasing tourism adjacent to the lake shore included the Lake Lodge (1891) for refreshments, adjacent cannons, Almeida Pavilion (1907) housing amusement machines and shelters such as the Picnic shelter (c1910) and replacement bandstand (1921). ‘Fairyland’ a wooded grove with bridges, ponds and walks on the western shore of Lake Wendouree, became a popular feature and a zoological section (1915-1959), replacing an earlier menagerie, was established in the northern gardens with the Adam Lindsay Gordon Cottage relocated nearby in 1934. Large and small bequests continued to enhance the gardens in the twentieth century such as the sundial (1912), avenue of Prime Ministers’ busts (1940- ), and the Robert Clark Conservatory and Horticultural Centre (1995). The Ballarat Botanical Gardens retain an exceptional collection of conifer and exotic deciduous trees and a tradition of bedding and floral displays, a fernery and potted plants.

Other additions to the northern gardens included a Pavilion (1904), Sound Shell (1962), and a Wetland (2001). The boundary between the southern gardens and the main botanical gardens is marked by the old display glass house (1972), the Ballarat Fish Acclimatisation Society’s trout hatchery (1873) and the Ballarat Vintage Tramway Museum. The extensive Australian Ex-Prisoner of War Memorial to honour 35,000 soldiers was constructed in 2004 adjacent to Carlton Street.


The restoration of the original 19th Century Fernery is the latest project initiated by the Ballarat City Council to restore these magnificent gardens to their original glory. It should not go unnoticed that the gardens currently maintain one of the world’s (and Australia’s) rarest collections of Elm species and cultivars.

Elm trees have all but disappeared in the Northern Hemisphere due to the devastating Dutch Elm Disease virus. With great care, expertise and expense, these trees are being replaced slowly in the Northern Hemisphere with cross bred varieties that utilise a Siberian Elm Tree, but it is a very slow process. The importance of the Botanical Gardens of Ballarat’s Elm tree gene pool cannot be underestimated.

The restoration of the original 19th Century Fernery will occur in two stages. once completed the site will enhance the annual Begonia festival with another opportunity to display these unique florals complemented by the year round collection of ferns, epiphytes and orchids. It is an exciting project, one that Balance Architecture’s principal Architect Mr Andrew Fedorowicz is proud to be associated with. As the works progress, Balance will provide our readers with regular updates. Heritage is so important to our character, our identity. Ballarat was the real epicentre of the state’s development last century almost entirely funded by Gold. In summer whilst sitting adjacent to Lake Wendouree enjoying the cool zephyrs of an afternoon breeze, you may just make out the soft images of our forbears and their children sitting on the grass, playing amongst the flowerbeds, cooling off in the fernery. It was a beautiful place, an idyll and it will be again – very soon.

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Balance Architecture recognises the importance of the preservation of Historical Architecture. We specialise in the renovation and restoration of Heritage Buildings.


The Greening of New Developments – The Fraser Group present the Burwood Brickworks Renewal Project

One of the most interesting developments architecturally in the last two decades has been the advent of the ‘Green Building’. There are many instances where a building has added a rooftop garden, but real ‘green’ projects offer much more. Energy neutral, sustainable and oxygen rich, the environments provide those who live and work in such buildings with major life benefits. The new shopping centre built upon the old Burwood Brickworks site by the Fraser Group takes this concept one step further creating a ‘Rooftop Farm’.

Not just a shopping centre but also a residential development, the Burwood project is also offering 700 new residential homes. The project is now fully approved after 2 years as a full living proposition with ‘paddock to plate’ scenarios being viable for resident cafés and restaurants.

Here is the most recent report in The Age Newspaper dated June 12th 2018.

‘World first’ development in Melbourne’s east has farm on shopping centre roof

In what used to be a brickworks in Melbourne’s east, a huge and environmentally-conscious development is springing up.

Frasers Property has created what it calls a “world first” mixed-use development in the suburb of Burwood, with a focus on lessening the impact of development and making each new building have a net positive effect on the environment.

“[The Living Building Challenge] is the most advanced measure of sustainability in the built environment,” Frasers’ head of retail Peri Macdonald said. “Whereas most measures look at how your building can be less bad, it looks at how your development gives back rather than just takes.”

artists impression brickworks building

Artist’s impression of the sustainable shopping centre and urban farm planned for the former Burwood Brickworks site

The challenge is set out by the Seattle-based International Living Future Institute, and no retail centre had achieved the award before Burwood Brickworks.

The centrepiece of the sustainable offering is a 2000-square-metre rooftop farm, which will be run by a yet-to-be-picked operator.

“At this stage our preferred model is that [an adjacent] restaurant is linked to the urban farm. We want a paddock-to-plate model,” Mr Macdonald said.

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A CGI render of proposed open space in the Brickworks development

A growing preference for produce grown close to where consumers live made Mr Macdonald think more urban farms could open in Melbourne.

“I think we’re definitely seeing a community preference for hyper local produce,” he said. “One of the challenges [will be] finding enough space to grow produce on a large enough scale to meet demand.”

Frasers hoped it would also be used as a teaching tool for schools and universities.

“It’s also something we see as a major attractor for the centre,” Mr Macdonald said. “And it’s something that doesn’t exist in any of the retail offerings in Melbourne for that matter.”

Frasers is planning to produce 105 per cent of the energy needed to power the development, predominantly through the use of solar panels and batteries, and features such as glazing on windows to reduce the building’s energy demands.

Head of residential Sarah Bloom said the urban farm and other sustainable features would help to sell the project’s 700 homes that will go on the market in the next few months.

“It’s the overarching package of the development that will set it apart,” she said. “That urban farm will be a truly unique proposition. There will be nothing like it.”

Work on Burwood Brickworks began on Tuesday after a two-year approval process with the Whitehorse Council.

“Approval for the project has taken some time and that’s because of the complexity of what we want to achieve … This community will set a new benchmark for what’s possible in sustainable urban design,” Ms Bloom said. “This project exemplifies everything we stand for: building sustainable, liveable communities that promote the long-term health and wellbeing of our residents.”


This is an exceptional, innovative development, but it is by no means the ‘first’ of such projects in Melbourne. Two other developments are prominent for their impeccable ‘green’ credentials.

Green buildings for purpose built offices aim to receive a Green Star Rating. Council House 2 – an administration hub for the City of Melbourne was the first building Australia-wide to achieve a Green Star ‘6 Star’ rating, the highest ranking achievable.


Green Star is a voluntary sustainability rating system for buildings in Australia. It was launched in 2003 by the Green Building Council of Australia.

The Green Star rating system assesses the sustainability of projects at all stages of the built environment life cycle. Ratings can be achieved at the planning phase for communities, during the design, construction or fit out phase of buildings, or during the ongoing operational phase.

The system considers assesses and rates buildings, fitouts and communities against a range of environmental impact categories, and aims to encourage leadership in environmentally sustainable design and construction, showcase innovation in sustainable building practices, and consider occupant health, productivity and operational cost savings.

In 2013, the GBCA released a report, The Value of Green Star, which analysed data from 428 Green Star-certified projects occupying 5,746,000 million square metres across Australia and compared it to the ‘average’ Australian building and minimum practice benchmarks. The research found that, on average, Green Star-certified buildings produce 62% fewer greenhouse gas emissions and use 66% less electricity than average Australian buildings. Green Star buildings use 51% less potable water than average buildings. Green Star-certified buildings also have been found to recycle 96 per cent of their construction and demolition waste, compared to the average 58% for new construction projects.



Council House 2 (CH2) simply changed the landscape of its local area. it has inspired developers, designers and architects across Australia and the world to achieve higher standards of sustainability and energy efficiency. The project was supervised by Professor Robert Adams and completed in 2006. You can view a virtual tour and image gallery of the building here…

The other unique building of note is known as the 60L Building located in Leicester St in Carlton, an inner Melbourne suburb. The Headquarters of the Australian Conservation Foundation has been used to present the organisation’s vision of best practice sustainable commercial building stock. An existing building, in this case a larger warehouse underwent a revolutionary change under the stewardship of the ACF and the developer – The Green Building Partnership.


Read more about the 60L building here…


Externally the 60L building does not disturb or rupture what is a typical late Victorian era landscape.

portion of trees against office buildings

Moving into the future, we have every expectation these projects will become mainstream. City buildings, rather than creating lifeless stone canyons, will be vibrant, green living spaces. The technology, the know how and the expertise is already available. What is now required is genuine commitment from Governments and Developers. We congratulate the Fraser Group on their courage and foresight in creating such a visionary project on the old Burwood Brickworks site. Let’s hope it becomes a template for future reclamation projects. We’re looking forward to enjoying a meal and quiet coffee out there when it’s completed.

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Balance Architecture recognises the importance of the preservation of Historical Architecture. We specialise in the renovation and restoration of Heritage Buildings.


The Largest Contemporary Art Precinct in Australia – Southbank – Heritage issues still outstanding.

The Victorian Government has announced plans for an exciting addition to the Southbank Arts Precinct. The plans are to build the ‘Largest Contemporary Art Gallery in Australia’. It will occupy a site currently owned by Carlton and United Breweries at the rear of the Arts Centre and the National Gallery of Victoria. The new Gallery will be known as NGV Contemporary, housing contemporary Art and Design.

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Interestingly this area is currently of a major focus for the Melbourne Heritage Action Group. The area has been the target of an extensive study – The Southbank Heritage Study. The study is now finally at Exhibition stage – about 2 1/2 years after the group wrote to the City of Melbourne pointing out the many outstanding places that were somehow not Heritage Listed. The Council’s area internal heritage report was formally accepted by the City of Melbourne Councillors eight months ago. At the end of this article we will reprint the heritage Action Group’s newsletter in full for your information.

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The State Government have allocated monies in this year’s May Budget ‘to purchase the Carlton and United Breweries building and commence planning works’. It is the Government’s intention to create a Public Private Project with those who support the Arts providing a ‘community’ contribution.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews is confident of community support.

From the ABC news report of 03.06.2018.


The redevelopment, involving about 18,000 square metres of new and renewed public space, hopes to improve links between Southbank and the city’s main arts centres.

It includes upgrades to theatres at the Arts Centre, an expanded Australian Music Vault, a new centre for small-to-medium arts organisations, a new pedestrian corridor with bars and restaurants, and bike tracks and more green space on Southbank Boulevard.

The Government said the project was expected to create 10,000 jobs during the construction phase, and 260 ongoing jobs.


The State Government hopes the project will create thousands of jobs

New gallery not in competition with MONA, director says

Announcing the new art space, NGV director Tony Ellwood said he was the “happiest gallery director in Australia right now”.

“This means an enormous amount for Victoria,” he said.

“To actually really capitalise on the strength in numbers around contemporary art and design and to create a building of this magnitude, with this kind of vision, really consolidates our position as the leader in the arts in this country.”

The Arts Centre Melbourne and NGV together attract more than six million visitors every year — twice as many as the MCG.

Mr Ellwood said the recent Triennial at the NGV drew almost 1.3 million visitors, with 20,000 visitors going through the gallery on some days.

“The building really does need to expand,” he said.


An artists impression of green space along Southbank Boulevard

He said NGV Contemporary would not be in competition with, but “complement”, the Museum of Old and New Art (MONA) in Hobart.

“What we are noticing is a lot of international and national visitors are coming to Melbourne for a cultural experience, and to Hobart, and that’s really healthy,” he said.

Mr Andrews said the Government expects the new gallery to be completed by 2025.


The National Gallery of Victoria is one of the world’s top 20 Contemporary Art Museums with the new complex now providing a dedicated Contemporary Art Facility.

Premier Daniel Andrews described the project as a ‘once in a generation transformation of the city’s Art Precinct that would deliver new ‘public space, better theatres, and thousands of local jobs and attract millions of visitors’.

‘It’s a game changer for our city that will cement Melbourne as the cultural capital of Australia.’

As well as the new Contemporary Art Gallery on the CUB site, No 1 City Rd, a vacant fenced off block at present will house the Australian Performing Art Gallery, an Australian Music Vault and extensive administration facilities, education and research facilities and a new home for Independent Art Organisations in both Victoria and Australia.

Interestingly there are still many Heritage Buildings within and backing onto the Southbank Precinct. Take the time to consider the information provided by Melbourne Heritage Action, Carlton and United Breweries was the result of the merger of seven individual breweries in the early 1900s. Still standing at 133 Queensbridge St is the grand building that housed the Castlemaine Brewery, built in 1888. It’s a very interesting precinct, and with a little forethought, much of it can be preserved to complement this vibrant new precinct. The Malthouse Theatre is a great example of such a transformation.

Here is the Victorian Heritage action Newsletter.

Southbank Heritage – Have Your Say !


The Southbank Heritage Study is finally at exhibition stage – about 2 1/2 years after we wrote to Council pointing out the many outstanding places that were somehow not heritage listed, and 8 months after the report was adopted by Council (by default, since the 5 Team Doyle Councillors had to declare a conflict of interest and so there no quorum).


The full study (7779 pages – which includes Fishermans Bend, to be covered in a future amendment) includes a history, a comprehensive update of all existing listings as well details on 18 new places, and another 9 places contributory to a heritage precinct centred along City Road, which includes a number of two bluestone laneways. This comprehensively protects what’s left of the industrial heritage of the area now called Southbank, once one of Melbourne’s most important locations for manufacturing and warehousing, from beer production to car manufacture and servicing to hat making. It also protects a few recent landmarks such as the 1980 sculpture ‘Vault’, infamously removed from the city square.


Heritage amendments always generate owner opposition so community support is important – we urge you to make a submission which you can do by just filling in the form on this page with something like the following :

“I support Southbank Heritage Amendment C305. Places such as the grand 1888 Castlemaine Brewery and the 1930 Spencer Street Bridge should have been protected long ago. The smaller industrial buildings clustered around City Road are the last remnants of the industrial heritage of Southbank, once such an important part of Melbourne’s history, and should be protected before its all swept away for apartment towers.”


Submissions are due by the 29th June.


Take the time to read it and absorb its content and recommendations. And remember you can have your say as is suggested in the newsletter with the link to do so.

Melbourne is changing. St Kilda Rd will soon be a very different vista both during and after the Metro construction for the new Metro Tunnel. With this new precinct it will change even further. Let’s retain what is the essence of our city. Heritage has real value.

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Balance Architecture recognises the importance of the preservation of Historical Architecture. We specialise in the renovation and restoration of Heritage Buildings.

Heritage listed homes can be a dream come true.


For many people an inner city home is a long cherished dream. A magnificent Victorian Terrace, perhaps a single storey workers cottage, maybe a home on an estate like Travancore in Flemington, constructed in the 1920s – or perhaps a unique mansion on St Vincent’s Place Albert Park, facing the St Vincent’s Place Gardens.


One thing all of these possibilities have in common is generally a Heritage Overlay listing. This can be something that simply protects the building from demolition, ensures the maintenance of the recorded facade and a nomination of the property as being part of the integral character of the area covered by the overlay.


However in some cases it can be quite strict with recommended colour schemes, protection orders on walls, windows, roofing and just about all facets of the building, especially if the building or property is built pre 1900.


The key to enjoying your new property may rest with these regulations and how to develop a comfortable living space in a 19th century building for a 21st century family. Essentially the wise move is to engage a qualified architect skilled in working with Heritage properties and older buildings, yet capable of creating genuine spacious living areas where possible and facilitating the luxury and comfort one might expect in a modern living space.


Andrew Fedorowicz F.R.A.I.A. is the principal Architect of Balance Architecture. He is highly experienced in developing and restoring Heritage properties. Heritage properties present entirely different issues to more modern buildings. High ceilings, solid plaster walls, slate roofing are the more obvious issues. Couple this with bluestone footings, rising damp, ancient wiring and slipshod ‘improvements’ over the life of the building, it’s really all about establishing a base point to start from. Add to this the very special requirements of a Heritage overlay, in terms of colours, materials and building integrity – an expert is required.


It’s a matter of ensuring the basics yet achieving the sense of space, warmth and liveability that is the hallmark of a well designed, architecturally sound building, a building that first and foremost is your home.


With many such properties it’s about achieving a full living area that makes the best use of both internal and external space. And most importantly, it’s about delivering a result that is energy neutral where possible and sustainable.

For a free consultation, please call 0418 341 445 and make an appointment. Alternatively please leave your details here or call 03 8696 9700 during business hours and leave a message.

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Balance Architecture recognises the importance of the preservation of Historical Architecture. We specialise in the renovation and restoration of Heritage Buildings.


Heritage Listing – Is it always what it seems?

Festival Hall in West Melbourne is a venue familiar to many readers. Music performers from the Beatles, Pink Floyd, The Eagles, Doobie Bros and many more such acts have performed there over the last 70 years. World Champion Boxer Lionel Rose fought there and had a funeral there in his honour. But – the building is unsightly externally. The owners wish to demolish it and develop the site. What is the real solution?


Festival Hall still hosts live concerts and events

Heritage Victoria has announced the building’s inclusion on the Victorian Heritage Register. Based on this the current owners plans are unlikely to proceed.

It’s an interesting conundrum, one that architecturally may require some lateral thinking. The ‘House of Stoush’ was designed to stage Boxing and Wrestling matches. Without massive volume, the hall is acoustically a nightmare. Perhaps the old auditorium can be improved internally with better soundproofing and modern equipment and just perhaps it can become part of a bigger complex, dedicated to Melbourne’s popular music history and performing arts.


The proposed development would see two apartment towers built on the site

The other main objection is that another series of soulless apartment towers will be built, adding nothing to the city or its activities and likely to be something less than desirable in ten years time when what is now modern becomes passé.

If ever there was an opportunity for the State Government and City of Melbourne to create a unique precinct, then this may be it. West Melbourne has always been the rump of industrial Melbourne until now. Extractive industries, rail yards and the edge of Yarra Ports have meant that this side of Melbourne (originally an extensive saltwater swamp fed by the Moonee ponds Creek and the Yarra) has remained dreary and industrial.


The planning application has been under consideration by the City of Melbourne

This is no longer the case. The rail yards are gone, the extractive industries have moved way out west, and the city hub has moved closer.

With some imagination and foresight (not to mention a realistic budget) this iconic location could house a concert hall, recording studios, art gallery and much more. It could become a performance venue on many different levels, with outdoor plazas, clever bars dedicated to Melbourne’s famous Pub music scene of the 70s, 80s and 90s.

A competitive tender situation as was evolved with Federation Square could ensure a truly magnificent result.

For now here are the latest reports from the Age Newspaper. The first confirms the Heritage Victoria listing, the second presents the rather intransigent response from the Wren family (yes, that Wren family – John Wren – Power without Glory), the current owners.

Festival Hall gets heritage listing, could be spared wrecking ball


West Melbourne’s Festival Hall has been recommended for inclusion on Victoria’s Heritage Register

The springy timber floor at its centre; the old, tiered wooden bleachers to the east and west; the theatre-like balcony to the south; the low stage to the north.

Like points on a compass, many of us can pinpoint moments in our lives, and the music that accompanied them, by these various parts within the brutalist brick structure that is West Melbourne’s Festival Hall.

And, thanks to a decision by Heritage Victoria, we may be able to do so for many decades more.

The state government body will on Friday announce it has recommended Festival Hall be included on the Victorian Heritage Register, meaning its owners’ plan to demolish the much-loved music venue are unlikely to be approved.

Festival Hall’s significance is more cultural than architectural, as the statement attached to Heritage Victoria executive director Steven Avery’s recommendation attests.


 The venue was built in 1956, in time to host events during the Melbourne Olympic, after a 1912-era stadium on the site burnt down

Mr Avery determined that Festival Hall should be included on the heritage register for its historical and social significance as Victoria’s principal purpose-built boxing and wrestling venue and as one of Victoria’s primary live music venues.

The statement of significance cites the hall’s “importance to the course, or pattern, of Victoria’s cultural history” and “strong or special association with a particular community or cultural group for social, cultural or spiritual reasons”.

And it lists the specific features – the floor, bleachers, stage and balcony – among its charms worth preserving. Even the “volume of the internal space” – it can hold up to 4500 people – was a factor in the decision.


John and Chris Wren, grandsons of bookmaker John Wren who built the current Festival Hall venue, are directors of the company that owns venue

The venue hosted boxing and gymnastics at the 1956 Olympic Games as well as bouts featuring revered Australian boxers including Johnny Famechon and Lionel Rose, whose funeral was held there in 2011.

For many years Melbourne’s only large concert hall, it bore witness to Judy Garland and the Beatles in the 1960s, Frank Sinatra and Joe Cocker in the 1970s, and Radiohead, Kanye West and Patti Smith more recently, the latter performing with hometown hero Courtney Barnett last year.

Music identity Molly Meldrum said Festival Hall held a unique place in Victoria’s live music history.

“There’s been so much of Melbourne’s music history in there, back to the days of Johnny O’Keeffe and then Skyhooks, Sherbet, Daddy Cool and of course the Beatles,” he said.

Meldrum – who said he was thrown out of the Beatles concert by bouncers who couldn’t handle the sight of a bloke screaming his love for John and Paul – called on the venue’s owners to turn its interior into a museum and live music venue.

“Let the people enjoy it,” he said.

Planning Minister Richard Wynne said he welcomed Heritage Victoria’s decision to accept a nomination to heritage-list Festival Hall.


Interiors such as the timber floors and wooden bleachers, where Chris and John Wren are pictured standing, are deemed to be of cultural significance

“Inclusion on the Victorian Heritage Register will mean that any development of the site will have to protect and preserve [it’s] character and the history,” Mr Wynne said.

An anonymous application to heritage-list the venue was made in January, days after The Age revealed the owners had applied to knock down all but its facade.

The Heritage Council of Victoria will make the final decision.

The venue’s owner, Stadiums Limited, has indicated it plans to sell the site, and has lodged a planning application to demolish most of the hall and build two 16-storey buildings on the site.

Chris Wren, a director of the business, could not be contacted for comment before deadline.


Where’s Molly? Beatles fans scream as the Liverpudlians played Festival Hall in 1964

Festival Hall has risen like a phoenix before. The original structure, built in 1912, was known as the West Melbourne Stadium. It was taken over by John Wren, a well-known bookmaker, in 1915.

The building burnt down in 1955 but by 1956 Wren had built a new Festival Hall on the site in time for the Olympics.

Courtney Barnett’s September 1 gig is the latest listed on the Festival Hall website.

Good thing her show – perhaps capped off with Depreston, her ode to Melbourne’s overheated property market – is unlikely to be its last.


Festival Hall owners not done with demolition despite heritage listing


Festival Hall was built in 1955, in time to host events during the Melbourne Olympics, after a 1912-era stadium on the site burnt down

The owners of Melbourne’s Festival Hall are pushing ahead with their plan to demolish the historic music venue and build apartment towers on the site, despite it being recommended for heritage protection.

Melbourne QC Chris Wren, representing venue owners Stadiums Limited, said the heritage referral came as no surprise, and the planning approvals process had a long way to go.

“We expected that this might happen and we will now follow due process while the matter is being considered by the Heritage Council,” Mr Wren said on Friday.


The development proposal would see all but the facade of the West Melbourne venue demolished

Stadiums Limited plans to sell the site and has lodged an application with the City of Melbourne to demolish all but the facade of the hall and build two 16-storey apartment towers.

The hall was built in 1955 by Mr Wren’s grandfather, well-known bookmaker John Wren, after a 1912-era stadium that he had owned since 1915 burnt down. It has hosted musical acts including the Beatles, Olympic boxing and gymnastics, televised wrestling bouts, trade union rallies and even a state funeral for world boxing champion Lionel Rose.

Heritage Victoria executive director Steven Avery has recommended Festival Hall be included on the Victorian Heritage Register, meaning that any development would need approval from the Heritage Council before it could be considered by the City of Melbourne.

Mr Avery noted the building’s significance was more cultural than architectural and highlighted interior features including its timber floor and tiered wooden bleachers among elements that warrant protection.

The application will be open for public consultation for 60 days before the Heritage Council makes its decision. The Heritage Council is independent of government. Heritage Victoria is a state government body that advises the Heritage Council.

Listing of the building on the heritage register would not necessarily stop the development from going ahead, Mr Wren told ABC Radio.

He said the development proposal already incorporated elements of the building’s heritage and the original plans would be revised on the advice of Victoria’s government architect.

“They’ve had a look at it and have made some suggestions, and we’re about to incorporate those suggestions into a revised plan. They otherwise thought it wasn’t such a bad proposal, subject to some things that needed to be touched up.


Chris Wren announced the development plans in January

“We’ve gone and spoken to people we regard as having expertise in this area and got their recommendations and sought to incorporate that because we recognise that the building for some people has great memories.

“We can make submissions about whether it’s got heritage significance – the extent of [it], what should or shouldn’t be retained, and what may be capable of being removed – but still maintaining some of the significance so that people’s memories … can be retained, at the same time recognising that you’ve got to move on.”

Planning Minister Richard Wynne could intervene on any development.

But Mr Wren said he thought Mr Wynne’s comments in support of Festival Hall’s heritage listing could disqualify him on the grounds of bias.


A state funeral was held at Festival Hall for world boxing champion Lionel Rose in 2011

Mr Wynne has acknowledged the proposal could still go ahead regardless of heritage protection.

“Heritage Victoria will advertise the application for 60 days and ultimately the Heritage Council which is independent of government will make a final decision,” Mr Wynne told 3AW.

“Clearly I would have the capacity to intervene as Minister for Planning but I think (heritage protection) would be widely supported … it doesn’t mean that all of Festival Hall would be retained, but any application has to respect the cultural and social significance of the site.”


From the outside this looks to be likely to be an interesting battle. Let’s hope the current State Government steps up to the plate and develops a realistic program to ensure the retention of this most iconic Melbourne location. Without Festival Hall through the mid twentieth century to the early twenty-first century Melbourne would be a very different place. As Bon Scott and AC/DC once belted out from its low level stage ‘Let there be rock, Sound Light and Music’ – and this our very own Festival Hall will always be the place.

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Balance Architecture recognises the importance of the preservation of Historical Architecture. We specialise in the renovation and restoration of Heritage Buildings. For further information on Balance Architecture’s services or to make an appointment for a free consultation, please click here or call 0418 341 443.

Our Heritage – It really does matter. The Corkman Irish Pub, The Queen Victoria Market and new Heritage Victoria powers.

For those who appreciate Heritage listings and the buildings protected by such rulings, the month of May has seen three spectacular results. In the first, the Corkman Developers have broken ranks with one developer Mr Raman Shaquiri (Partner) admitting to illegally demolishing the heritage listed hotel in October 2016. In another major coup, the City of Melbourne have agreed with Heritage Victoria to drastically alter its plans to ‘redevelop’ the Queen Victoria Market. The council now acknowledge the need for a new plan for the ‘project’. Finally those who own Heritage buildings and leave them in disrepair and neglect face the prospect of now being served an order to carry out urgent repairs or face hefty fines. These rulings have all been welcomed by the State Government and its Planning Minister Mr Richard Wynne.


In the Corkman case it seems there is a rather futile attempt by the development company’s other Director Mr Stefc Kutlesovski to avoid penalties, pleading not guilty to the charges associated with knocking down the hotel. As well their company ‘160 Leicester Property Ltd’ has been charged. It too has pleaded guilty to a number of charges.

Here is the report on the court proceedings from the ABC News.

Developer pleads guilty to illegal demolition of Melbourne’s historic Corkman pub


The pub, which was popular with students, was destroyed without a permit

One of the developers charged over the illegal demolition of a 160-year-old Irish pub in inner Melbourne has pleaded guilty, but his fellow director is preparing to fight the charges.

Developers Raman Shaqiri and Stefce Kutlesovski, and their company 160 Leicester Proprietary Limited, were charged for knocking down the Corkman Irish Pub at Carlton in October, 2016.

It is alleged they were planning to develop the property occupied by the pub, which was built in 1858.

Mr Shaqiri left the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court briskly to avoid the waiting media after admitting to being a director of a company that permitted the demolition despite not having a building permit, and failing to exercise due diligence to prevent the company from contravening the planning scheme.

The company, 160 Leicester Proprietary Limited, also pleaded guilty to a number of charges.


The Carlton Inn Hotel, on the corner of Pelham and Leicester streets, Carlton in 1957. It was later known as the Corkman Irish Pub

Co-director prepares to fight charges

Mr Kutlesovski has indicated he will plead not guilty and is set to face a four-day hearing in January. The court heard up to nine witnesses will give evidence.

Mr Shaqiri will have to wait until his co-director’s case has been finalised before he’s sentenced.

Magistrate Sarah Dawes earlier expressed her frustration at the delay in hearing the case, after it was initially scheduled to happen earlier this week.

The court heard the men and their business were initially being represented by the same lawyer but a conflict of interest between the parties had arisen and it was not able to go ahead.

Ms Dawes said it was “unacceptable” that the hearing had to be delayed seven months, effectively for the developers’ “convenience”.

Mr Shaqiri’s barrister agreed it was “regrettable”.

Ms Dawes refused the media’s request for access to the prosecution summary of evidence against Mr Shaqiri despite his guilty plea.


The Queen Victoria Market re-development has been stalled since Robert Doyle stepped down as Mayor of Melbourne. It appears that council has recognised this is a project that needs a drastic re-think. Apart from the general community disquiet over the presented plans, the ruling by Heritage Victoria has halted the project forthwith.

Read about it here in an article from the Age Newspaper dated 14th of May 2018.

Queen Vic Market plans on ice after council backs down from shed fight

Plans for the Queen Victoria Market will be drastically altered by Melbourne City Council, after it backed down from a battle with the state’s heritage authority over its proposal to refurbish 140-year-old sheds.

The city council had wanted to temporarily remove four of the market’s heritage sheds and, while they were being restored, dig three levels of underground parking and service areas for traders.


The $250-million redevelopment plan for the Queen Victoria Market has been put on ice

But that plan was halted in March when Heritage Victoria said it could not accept assurances the sheds could be returned to the site in their original condition.

The heritage authority also rejected the council plan because its officers believed the fabric of the 19th-century market would be irreversibly altered if the project went ahead.

On Monday, council officers and acting lord mayor Arron Wood said they would go back to the drawing board with plans for the project.

The council may dump altogether plans for underground services beneath market sheds A to D as it had planned.

It will spend around six months coming up with a new plan for hundreds of car parking spaces the council must provide under an agreement struck with the Victorian government in 2013.

What has been proposed?


Under that deal, the council will build a new park on the site of the current open-air car park next to the market.

But in return for other state-owned land next to the market being given to it, the council must provide an equal amount of car parking elsewhere.

It had relied on putting car parking underneath the refurbished heritage sheds.

The council wants to redevelop the market to ensure it provides a brighter future for the produce and retail centre – which because of apartment development on its doorsteps will have an extra 22,000 residents living nearby within half a decade.

Acting lord mayor Arron Wood said he was disappointed the council would not proceed with its original plan for the market sheds.

“I can’t fathom the fact that you can’t dismantle some pretty basic construction like those sheds and refurbish them and return them in a much better state,” he said.

He had initially reacted with anger at the Heritage Victoria ruling, pledging to challenge it.


Acting lord mayor Arron Wood at the market

But Cr Wood said he had “gone through the five stages [of grief] here and spent a fair bit of time and anger”; he was now reconciled to revamping plans for the market.

While he wanted the underground project to go ahead, Cr Wood it was just one of 13 works packages in the redevelopment plan.

And he said a legal challenge by the council against Heritage Victoria’s decision to reject the underground plan would not have been ‘‘a great look, for one government entity to be going after another government entity through the courts. It doesn’t win hearts and minds’’.

He said perhaps the council had failed to sell its redevelopment plans effectively, but that there had been a massive amount of consultation of traders and customers before it had pressed ahead with its ultimate plans for putting services underground.

Planning Minister Richard Wynne is expected to soon release his decision on a separate project tied to the Queen Victoria Market renewal, a 42-storey apartment tower and community centre to be co-developed by the city council and property group PDG.


The Age asked Mr Wynne his views on the council’s rethink of its current plans for underground services beneath the heritage sheds.

“We’ve been very clear that any development of the market will have to respect and preserve the rich character and heritage that makes it what it is,” Mr Wynne said.

Some traders who would have been directly affected by the underground project were celebrating on Monday, saying they were glad it would be re-thought.

Among them was Paul Ansaldo, who with his wife and children has run a fruit stand at the market for the past 31 years.

Their stalls are in the sheds that were to be dug up, and he said the implications of putting their storage areas underground had never been properly thought through by the council.

This included making traders reliant on lifts to bring fruit and vegetables up to the surface from cold stores below ground.


Paul Ansaldo, a trader at the market for 31 years, is pleased the council’s underground plans will be revised

“There are a lot of people who don’t get along around here – can you imagine the debacle we would have had if we were all underground in a tight space?

“If you don’t talk to one bloke, you’re going to have a blue over who gets their fruit in the lifts first. There would’ve been a murder committed,” he joked.

He said the council should focus on promoting the market, not redeveloping the sheds.

But another trader, wine seller Marshall Waters who celebrated a decade at the market last week, said there was already enough promotion.


A supporter of the council’s plans, Mr Waters said it was tragic the project would not go ahead in the format proposed before Heritage Victoria struck it down.

“Why Heritage [Victoria] refused that permit is totally beyond me – I don’t think it’s anything to do with heritage, it’s to do with politics. It’s appalling we are so ruled by stupid populist decisions like this. It was a great project and now it’s basically dismantled.”


Finally, perhaps the most significant news item. The State Government has introduced new laws to ensure Heritage listed buildings are not left neglected, to be demolished, damaged or excavated. The penalties for doing so now include fines up to $375K or a maximum five years jail.

It has long been the practice of some developers to simply allow a building to become so damaged and beyond repair, the simplest solution seemed to be to demolish the building. With the blatant actions at the Corkman Irish Pub and the former Metro Night Club at the top of Bourke St it became an imperative to step in and protect Victoria’s rich heritage.

Read about the new laws and some examples of how these laws are to be enacted in this article, also from The Age, May 3 2018.

Owners of neglected heritage-listed buildings in Victoria ordered to start repairs


The new owner of Macedon House has been ordered to clean the property up

Derelict, abandoned and vandalised: at first glance it is hard to believe Macedon House in Gisborne and Valetta House in East Melbourne are prized state-listed heritage assets.

The owners of the two heritage-protected homes, neglected for many years, have just been ordered to carry out urgent repairs or face hefty fines.

It is the first time the state government has issued a repair order since new laws were passed last year aimed at cracking down on property owners or developers who flout heritage rules.


Photographed in 2015, Macedon House was unused except by vandals

The two buildings have fallen into such a state of disrepair that the state government’s heritage authority has ruled their future preservation is under threat.

After years of concern from conservation lobby groups, planning minister Richard Wynne last week signed off on orders that require the owners to comply with a list of repairs by a given deadline.

The state government last year strengthened its power to enforce repairs and doubled penalties for unauthorised works to heritage-listed places.


A hotel, Macedon House was built in the pre-Goldrush era

People found to have demolished, damaged or excavated one of Victoria’s 2400 heritage-listed assets face fines of up to $373,000 or a maximum five years’ jail.

“Those lucky enough to own heritage assets have a responsibility to maintain them — and we’ll ensure they do,” Mr Wynne said.

Macedon House, about 50 kilometres north-west of Melbourne, dates back to the 1840s. The single-storey bluestone building is considered a rare surviving example of an early Victorian hotel.


Local groups fear the house may be demolished by neglect

Once buzzing with travellers in the gold rush era, the building has long been abandoned and left to decay. Windows have been smashed and boarded up, the walls punched with holes and graffiti scrawled on the building’s facade.

Melbourne businessman and developer Brian Forshaw last year sold the property, with plans to develop it into a retirement village, for $1.21 million — but the transaction is yet to settle. Title records show Gary Braude placed a caveat over the title in September.

The local council’s website states the application for the retirement village was withdrawn in March.

The repair orders state the site must be cleaned up, and all doors and windows secured within 21 days. The government has also given a 90-day deadline for drainage works and the underpinning of external bluestone.

In East Melbourne, Valetta House, built in 1856, was the home of Sir Redmond Barry, the Supreme Court judge who presided over the Ned Kelly trial. The grand mansion has been empty for many years but its owner, psychiatrist Despina Mouratides, has previously said she plans to renovate and move into the residence.

Ms Mouratides declined to comment when contacted by Domain on Thursday.

She has been ordered to reinstate all windows, doors and locks, and undertake external conservation works by May 14.

In the past two decades, the state government has only stepped in and issued repair orders for two other buildings: the Criterion Hotel in Sale and Camberwell’s Boyd House.

Property owners served with a repair order can seek a review in the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal.


Heritage isn’t just a word. Our Heritage is in fact who we are and how we came to be who we are. It’s the buildings, the culture, the people, the social interaction. In terms of buildings and structures it’s often something of great beauty, other times it’s just something simple, something unique, ultimately something precious.

There are battles ahead. St Vincent’s Private Hospital is planning to demolish or partly demolish three significant buildings in Old Fitzroy. The Queen Victoria Market is by no means safe. Safer, but not yet safe. Each week new buildings are earmarked for development. In South Melbourne just last week the old AAV Building in Bank St with associated property has been offered for sale – and development – for a cool $40 Million. The owners of the current ANZ bank building on the corner of Bank St and Clarendon St have applied to demolish the rear ‘addition’ completed quite tastefully in the 1970s and throw up a multi-storey office block.

The choice is rather stark. Keep the facades and build canyons of multi-storey apartment blocks or provide real heritage protection. And the truth is the choice is really yours – if you choose to exercise it. Beautiful streetscapes, wonderful old buildings, or concrete canyons. What legacy do you want to leave the next generation?

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Balance Architecture recognises the importance of the preservation of Historical Architecture. We specialise in the renovation and restoration of Heritage Buildings. For further information on Balance Architecture’s services or to make an appointment for a free consultation, please click here or call 0418 341 443.

Heritage in Essendon – Clydebank, Rosebank and St Columba’s College – The Beginning.

This week we review another 3 grand homes, mansions if you like, in the Essendon district. Again each of these interesting and historic heritage properties were purchased last century with the intent and purpose of providing either educational facilities or accommodation for nuns staffing such schools. Clydebank in Aberfeldie, Rosebank in Strathmore and St Columba’s College in Essendon were all built by very successful businessmen of the early colony of Victoria.



Statement of Significance – Victorian Heritage Register

The former mansion Clydebank, now Ave Maria College, was built in 1888 for Congregational lay preacher and land agent, John Ramsay. The stuccoed Italianate residence of two storeys was designed with a slate, hipped-roof, and apart from the two-level return cast iron verandah and parapeted tower, the house displays little that would distinguish it from the many other large metropolitan houses built during Melbourne’s boom years. John Ramsay prospered and his large family pursued successful careers in their chosen domains. Two sons, William and James founded the Kiwi Boot Polish firm, both predeceasing their father who then acted as chairman for the company. Another son, John Ramsay Jnr., became Surgeon Superintendent at Launceston General Hospital and was knighted in 1939. The most celebrated of the sons, Hugh (1877-1906) pursued a short but brilliant career as an artist, prior to his death from tuberculosis at the age of twenty-nine. Many of Hugh Ramsay’s now famous portraits were painted at Clydebank and several of his works continued to grace the building’s walls until
the Catholic Church purchased the property from the Ramsay family in 1943.


The former mansion Clydebank is of historical importance to the State of Victoria.

The former mansion Clydebank is of historical importance for its association with the life and oeuvre of Hugh Ramsay, one of the nation’s most gifted artists. Ramsay’s response to character and environment and the tonal quality of his paintwork is quite distinct from all other painting of the Edwardian period in Australia.

Clydebank is historically important as the backdrop to most of Hugh Ramsay’s short life; it was here that he established his first studio and painted many of his finest works, and it was here that he died, his career scarcely spanning a decade. Ramsay’s strong attachments to home and family are demonstrated by the many portraits painted at Clydebank of his sisters, with the house and its interior ever-present in the background. That some of these elements can still be identified within the rooms of the former mansion today adds further texture to the interpretation of the artist, the paintings, and the house Hugh Ramsay inhabited.


Clydebank was initially surrounded by fifteen acres of land. The north and south fence lines were planted with trees, and at some distance from the house, a line of outbuildings separated the house and formal gardens from the cow and horse paddock. The stuccoed, Italianate mansion of two storeys had a slate, hipped-roof, and apart from the two-level return caste-iron verandah and parapeted tower, the house displayed little external ornamentation. In this respect it was not unlike many of the large metropolitan houses built during Melbourne’s property boom.

The ground floor included many reception rooms, John Ramsay’s study with built-in safe, and bedroom the family referred to as the ‘low bedroom’ or visitor’s room. The drawing room, to the left of the front door, contained a marble fireplace that featured in the background to some of Hugh Ramsay’s family portraits. Behind this room was the dining room containing the onyx mantel where for many years hung the portrait of Jessie Ramsay. Other rooms on this level included a parlour, breakfast room, kitchen, as well as a wash house, scullery and other service rooms. Upstairs there were six bedrooms and a billiard room where paintings by Hugh Ramsay hung until the 1940s. The family bedrooms had access to the very spacious verandah which wrapped around the north east corner of the house, and it is here that three of the Ramsay siblings spent time resting during the last years of their lives. The tower, reached by steep stairs, contained John Ramsay’s telescope. From here could be seen the Macedon Ranges, the Dandenongs and Port Phillip Bay.

At the back of the south west (rear) wing of the house was a room which Hugh Ramsay used as a studio. Above the door was written ‘studio’ together with a painting applied directly onto the wall, entitled The Duellists. Both existed until this section of the house was altered in 1946. After Hugh’s death the studio reverted to its former use of staff bedroom. The north west, single storey wing containing the ironing room, a bootroom and generator room, was completely rebuilt in 1946.


Screen Shot 2018-05-08 at 11.22.03 amAlthough considerable additions were made to the house after it was sold to the Roman Catholic Property Trust, many original features remain to help interpret the seemingly gracious late Victorian and Edwardian lifestyle of the Ramsay family, and the paintings of Hugh. The stained glass windows survive on the north and west walls, as does the glass on the front door minus the Ramsay coat of arms. Door handles and panels are still in use. Fireplaces in the bedrooms have been removed. With the exception of the drawing room fireplace, all those on the ground floor remain with their onyx or marble mantels. Many of these formed the backdrop to the famous family portraits painted in the last years of the artist’s life. The hall and verandah tiles, the stairs and ornate newel post show little evidence of their use for over one hundred years. Very little remains of the original garden. The cypresses forming the backdrop to the painting, Jessie with Collie, were removed in the early 1980s because they were diseased. However Clydebank’s rendered front door pillars have been retained, and one of these can be seen in this painting of Jessie.

When Ellen Ramsay died in 1943, the building and its grounds were purchased by the Roman Catholic Trusts Corporation.

The Ave Maria Retreat House (a place for religious contemplation) for women was officially opened in Clydebank on 19 December 1943, by Archbishop Mannix. The first retreat was held over the weekend of 22-24 January 1944 for a group of munition workers. It was run by the Legion of Mary until 1946 and thereafter by the American organisation, the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary, founded in India in 1877. Extensive additions were made to the house in keeping with the original style. On the south side the drawing room was lengthened for the chapel and the Ramsay breakfast room was extended to make a larger dining room. Upstairs the bedrooms were modified to dormitory accommodation. The north west wing became two storeys, and both it and the south west wing were almost doubled in width. Extra bathrooms were included on both levels. A further extension was made in 1958 to provide an enclosed verandah outside the Ramsay breakfast room.


In 1957 a kindergarten opened on the property. Planning for a secondary school began in 1961. Ave Maria College opened on the property in 1963, in a separate building, and operates to this day as a Secondary Girls School.

Rosebank House also has an interesting and varied history. It was originally built for Thomas Napier, the earliest European resident of Strathmore. The original house was built on what became known as Napier Hill in 1845. Napier lived there all his life. When he died in 1881, the property passed to his wife Jessie and surviving son Theodore.

Rosebank House


It was about this time the original house was badly damaged by fire. The current house was built at around this time.

The second Rosebank House was a large two storey brick house with a wide verandah and balcony and a rooftop lookout. Iron lace work adorns the verandah, the balcony and rooftop lookout. Inside the house the main feature is the beautiful wide timber staircase. Many of the rooms have ornate fireplaces of marble or wood, some with inset hand painted tiles with rural scenes. The house also has a number of beautiful stained glass windows.

Eleanor Barber died in 1902 and her husband George died in August 1914. Because of the First World War and the scattering of the family immediate sale of the property was not possible.The furniture was stacked away, the house locked up and a caretaker put in charge. George’s son, Dr Norman Barber visited the house in 1917 he discovered that the house had fallen into some disrepair.


When the war finished a plan of subdivision was prepared dividing the Rosebank property into 63 housing blocks, and 17 shop sites facing Woodland St and the railway line. The Rosebank house together with 2 acres of land was offered separately. An auction sale was was held in November, 1920. The price of the residential blocks was advertised as around 3 pounds each.

“Rosebank” house was purchased by the Catholic Columban mission in 1923 and is now a convent of the Sisters of Charity. Restoration work was performed on the house in the early 1990’s and the house is in excellent condition internally and externally.



The Victorian Heritage Database ‘Statement of Significance’ is as follows

Architecturally, an externally original, successfully designed and richly ornamented house which follows the Medieval revival, illustrating its influence on established Italianate forms of that period, and possessed unusually formed and applied details; also it is the subject of distant views which include the related North Park mansion and clearly identifiable as prior to the surrounding residential subdivision; of state importance.

Historically, is connected with perhaps Essendon’s first resident land owner and represents a pastoral property dating from 1845, now part of suburban Melbourne; of local importance and regional interest.

Physical Description

A two-storeyed polychrome brick and stucco house with a two-level return verandah, constructed on masonry piers with iron intermediate supports.

Atypically, the verandah extends under a high hipped and slated roof, whilst the roof, itself supports a lookout with cast iron balustrading. Further unusual details include the two gabled and raised entablatures which are placed over the verandah bressumer, flanked by scrolled brackets, and a coved eaves treatment which extends around the house. The verandah has panelled iron friezework and balustrading, enriched by rosettes, and tapered iron columns of and unusual pattern. Beneath the verandah, bay windows, with cream brick quoining and voussoirs, create a varied elevation at both levels, whilst central to the ground floor verandah, is a gabled pediment resting on brick piers. Exotic planting (of a later date) and gravel paving are sympathetic to the house.


It’s an interesting situation. These homes all now sit in relative obscurity. Yet they are the foundations of the areas of Essendon, Strathmore and beyond.

St Columba’s College


The last property for consideration is a mansion built between Buckley St and Leslie Rd Essendon by successful Flour Miller Mr Alexander Gillespie. Mr Gillespie built his extravagant Italian Renaissance style home in 1882. Not much is recorded of his situation other than he was a very wealthy man who like others of the time was severely impacted by the economic crash of the 1890s. In 1896 he was forced to sell his home to cover crushing debts. The Sisters of Charity purchased the estate. St Columba’s Girls School commenced classes in 1897 with 47 students.


The Sisters of Charity, an Irish order, made many canny purchases in the 1890s and early 1900s. The buildings have stood the test of time and remain largely intact as they stood at the time of their sales, with some clumsy ‘improvements’ detracting form the overall effect.


The Essendon and Flemington areas are rich in heritage values with a large number of original homes dating back to the early settlement of the area. Our principal Architect Andrew Fedorowicz knows the area and its heritage well. As such he has re-developed many properties sympathetically, winning awards along the way. For further information on Balance Architecture’s services or to make an appointment for a free consultation, please click here. Alternatively you can call the number listed on our Facebook page – 0418 341 443.

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Balance Architecture recognises the importance of the preservation of Historical Architecture. We specialise in the renovation and restoration of Heritage Buildings.