Melbourne’s Lost Architectural Treasures – Part 2

This is the last piece in our series on Melbourne’s historic buildings no longer standing. It has to be said that change is inevitable and some buildings become economically non-viable. Today’s developers are required in most cases to respect heritage values and if a building can no longer be maintained, the facade is preserved and the character retained. We now value our heritage and those who transgress these values or ‘thumb their noses’ at heritage overlays pay dearly. Witness the Corkman Hotel demolition in Carlton. An order is in place that requires it to be fully restored in every detail. Times have indeed changed.

APA Tower

This week we start with what was known as the APA Tower, located on the corner of Queens and Collins St. Constructed between 1927–29, it was formally opened in 1930. It stood as one of Melbourne’s tallest buildings until the 1950s. It was demolished in 1969 to make way for a modern office block tower of 20 storeys.

Queen Victoria Hospital

The Queen Victoria Hospital at 210 Lonsdale St was constructed between 1910 and 1966. It was initially the site of the Royal Melbourne Hospital which eventually was moved and occupied the former military hospital at its present Grattan St site in 1946.

At the time of this move, the premises then became known as the Queen Victoria Memorial Hospital.

The distinctive red brick building’s eastern and western wings were demolished in the 1990s leaving only the central block standing. It is now used as the Queen Victoria Women’s Centre.

The site is currently occupied by the Queen Victoria retail shopping precinct and office blocks. The site was in part established by Dr Constance Stone, the first woman to register as a medical practitioner in 1890. Dr Stone continued to work there for many years. Her younger sister along with Margaret Whyte became the first two women to graduate with medical degrees from Melbourne University in 1891.

The Eastern Market

The market was located on the eastern end of the block bounded by Exhibition St, Bourke St, Russell and Lt Collins St. Designed by architects Reeds and Barnes it was built over two years from 1877–79.

Shoppers at the Eastern Market could buy fresh produce as well as trinkets. The markets range was very similar to that on offer at the Queen Victoria Market. Towards the end of its lifespan, it was open late on a Saturday and offered Fortune Telling and other sideshow style acts in an effort to attract more patronage.

Demolished in 1959, the market and its shops were pulled down to make way for the Southern Cross Hotel, the iconic location that eventually witnessed mass protests in the late 1960s and early 1970s against the Vietnam War, due to its perceived American ownership.

The hotel was itself demolished in 2003 to make way for the SXI Southern Cross Tower. It is said that the Southern Cross Hotel was the only 1960s building of significant architectural merit constructed in that period.

City of Melbourne Bank

The Bank building was located on the corner (south east) of Collins and Elizabeth St. It was built in 1888 and used as a bank until 1939-40 when it was demolished to make way for the new ES+A Bank building. The ES+A eventually merged with the ANZ which today still occupies the site.

Cromwell Building

This building, constructed in the 1880s was eventually torn down in 1973. It was replaced with a nondescript red brick office block, which has now also been demolished. The site is currently a 3 storey retail and office complex.

CUB Brewery

The brewery covered a whole block from Queensberry St through to Victoria St bounded by Swanston St and Bouverie St. Entrance was through Bouverie St. The official address was 2–76 Bouverie St, Carlton.

The original building was constructed in 1864, with over the years several less significant buildings occupying the site. It was demolished in 1989 and has stood vacant during that period. A large tower is scheduled for construction on the site.

St James Building

The building was located on the southwest corner of Bourke and William St. Constructed and completed by 1889, it consisted of offices and warehouses. AMP Insurance purchased the site in 1966 and the AMP and St James buildings were built in 1969.

The Paris end of Collins St

The eastern end of Collins St with its elegant period buildings, Plane trees and wide vistas was known as the ‘Paris end of Collins St’.

Lister House

This building was located at 63 Collins St on the corner of Exhibition St.

It was designed by the architects Oakden and Ballantyne and was built during World War 1 between 1915 and 1917. It was originally occupied with offices and medical practices. It was demolished to facilitate the Collins Place Complex.

Ogg and Co Buildings

Originally built as a row of townhouses, the site was occupied from 1874 by Ogg and Co Chemists until its demolition in 1976. it featured an ornate 19th Century wrought iron verandah.

In 1854, the Melbourne City Council created a city wide ordinance that required the removal of all such ornate 19th Century cast or wrought iron verandahs. At the time these decorative features were considered an embarrassment. Strangely, during the Royal visit that year, ‘Illustrated London News’ published a prominent photo of this same verandah intact, noting how it represented Melbourne’s sophisticated urban style.

So it would seem that much of the Paris end of Collins St has gone and we did indeed lose many treasures in our scramble for modernity, with perhaps just a little developers greed thrown in for good measure.

Next week we take a look at the ‘new’ Melbourne, its iconic buildings and locations that now shape the character and style of this grand city. Balance Architecture have a love and passion for this great city and there is always one thing you can always be certain of wherever you may choose to live – change.

See also: Melbourne’s Lost Architectural Treasures, Part 1

Melbourne’s Lost Architectural Treasures

Melbourne’s early architecture was most definitely influenced by what was perhaps the strongest formative event in the young colony of Victoria’s history – the Gold Rush of the 1850s. With thousands of miners arriving at the Melbourne Port and making their ways to the diggings in Ballarat, Bendigo and other goldfields, the capital poured into the city. Profits from gold were enormous, and the new population needed provisioning, housing and all relevant services. Often when money made from mining was spent, the results were seriously ostentatious.

Many beautiful buildings were constructed. Some have survived such as those we looked at last week. Many did not and were torn down in the name of progress or modernising.

The Melbourne Fish Markets

The Melbourne Fish Markets – what an extraordinarily beautiful building for a seemingly everyday purpose. the building was constructed in 1890 and for over 50 years was used as a market for fish and other produce. It was demolished prior to the 1956 Olympic Games in the government’s quest for modernity. From 1959 until recently it remained a carpark! The land is now occupied partially by a nondescript office block.

The Fink Building

The Fink Building – stood on the corner of Elizabeth St and Flinders St. It was built in 1888 and was Australia’s tallest building for many years, standing 13 storeys high. Its tower featured a Mannerist facade crowned by several eyecatching features on the skyline including a monsard roof. Ravaged by one of Melbourne’s biggest fires in 1897 it was rebuilt several years later and finally demolished in the 1960s.

555 Collins St

555 Collins St was constructed in 1888 to coincide with the Centennial Exhibition marking 100 years of Australian Colonisation. Known eventually as ‘The Coffee Palace’ it was a most ornate building and originally was one of the largest and most opulent Hotels in the world. it was a ‘Coffee palace’ in that it payed homage to the Temperance movement of the times and served no alcoholic beverages. This beautiful building was demolished in 1973 despite pleas to have it saved as a heritage building.

The Menzies Hotel

The Menzies Hotel was built in 1867 primarily to accommodate the Duke of Edinburgh and his visit. Some other very famous guests were also accommodated over the years – Sarah Bernhardt, Alexander Graham Bell, Mark Twain, Herbert Hoover and General Douglas Macarthur. It was demolished in 1969 and the BHP Plaza buildings replaced it.

The Oriental Bank

The Oriental Bank was an extraordinarily beautiful building constructed in 1856. It was themed after a Greek Temple and was the result of a competition held by the bank amongst Melbourne Architects to develop a design. The Bank went bust in 1884 and the building was demolished shortly afterwards. It stood on the corner of Queens St and Flinders Lane.

The Colonial Mutual Life Building

The Colonial Mutual Life Building was located at 316 Collins St. The company known as the ‘Equitable Company’ set itself the task of building the grandest building in the Southern Hemisphere. Costing £500,000 and taking 5 years to complete, it may well have been the case at that time. Building commenced in 1860.
It featured a Central Oriel, meticulous detail, iron cresting and monsard roof, a central clock tower and an unusual and eclectic use of venetian gothic tracery with round arched windows. The building was demolished in 1960 to make way for a ‘modern’ building.

The Australia Building

The Australia Building stood at 43-45 Elizabeth St. At the time of its construction in 1889, this was in fact the worlds third tallest building. Visible from anywhere within the city, the building was the first to use hydraulic lifts using water pumped at high pressure from the Yarra River. It was demolished in 1980.

The Tivoli

And finally Melbourne’s Grand Old Theatre, The Tivoli. Originally known as the ‘Harry Rickards’ New Opera House, named after its original owner – Harry Rickards. Rickards sold the theatre in 1912 and it was renamed the Tivoli shortly after. It continued to present live entertainment right through until the 1960s. Converted to a movie theatre in that decade, it was destroyed by fire in 1967.

Next week we will complete our series on Melbourne’s architectural past with a closing reminiscence on other graceful and delightful visions of the past. Balance Architecture and Interior Design recognise the incredible richness of the city of Melbourne and endeavour to explore and maintain that beauty in their renovations and refurbishments.

Historic Architecture in Melbourne

Melbourne is an eclectic mix of Architecture and architectural styles.

Many of its buildings have significant historical value and were fortunate to have withstood the wholesale destruction of so many iconic buildings and locations during the ‘50s, ‘60s and ‘70s when the then State Government under the tutelage of Sir Henry Bolte, the Premiere set about a major renewal of inner Melbourne, at great cost to our heritage and the beauty of our city. The most famous sign in those days was ‘Whelan the Wrecker is Here’.

The Athenaeum Theatre was at times under threat as was the beautiful Capitol Theatre across the road in Collins St, just short of the town Hall on the corner of Swanston St.

The Athenaeum Theatre is in fact Melbourne’s oldest cultural institution. It was originally Melbourne’s first Mechanics Institute, established in 1839. The Melbourne City Council met there until 1852, the year the Melbourne Town Hall was completed.

Cook’s Cottage, located in the Fitzroy Gardens on Wellington Pde East Melbourne is in fact the oldest building in Australia. Originally built in England in 1755, the whole residence was transported to Melbourne and faithfully restored in precise detail. The Fitzroy Gardens are heritage listed and the cottage includes an authentic Kitchen garden. The rooms, the doorways, the windows all give an insight into a time when people were somewhat smaller and lived simpler lives.

Melbourne was growing and part of its character was to initiate, construct and maintain somewhat grand buildings in ornate Victorian era style. At 673 Bourke St Melbourne stands what is known as ‘Donkey Wheel House’. It was purpose built in 1891 for the Melbourne Tramways and Omnibus Company. It is a superb example of High Victorian Venetian Gothic Architecture.

The Melbourne Town Hall, as mentioned, was completed in 1870. A mix of bluestone and Tasmanian freestone, a classically designed building, it features a clocktower and fine masonry, standing on the north east corner of Swanston and Collins St.

Perhaps one of the most interesting stories surrounds the Old Treasury Building, located in Spring St adjacent to Collins St. The Treasury building was originally constructed to hold the gold bullion discovered in the 1850s Gold Rush. Its designer was a 19 year old Architect JJ Clarke. It’s worth a visit and is now open to the public. A grand palazzo style building the Colony’s leaders continued to work from it’s offices until the 1870s.

Further up Spring St on the other side of the road past Bourke St is the flamboyantly designed Princess Theatre. The Theatre was first opened in 1857 and again remodelled in 1886. A working Theatre, the Princess is still being used today.

St Patrick’s, the Roman Catholic Cathedral was built in stages from 1858 right through until 1940 and is a fine example of Gothic Revival Architecture from the period.

St Paul’s Cathedral, the Church of England Cathedral was constructed between 1880 and 1931. It is Neo-Gothic in style.

In Lygon St, Carlton stands the Trades Hall. It was first erected as a timber structure in 1859 following the successful Eight Hour Day campaign of 1856. Between 1875 and 1925 the building was transformed into the outstanding, imposing edifice it is today. It remains Australia’s oldest surviving Trades Hall and it is still used by the Union movement for its original purpose.

These wonderful buildings, classically executed in the style of the day remain sound and still useful after over 100 years. Next week we will look at some of the buildings and unique vistas our founding fathers provided that have disappeared. And we will appraise the replacements, their longevity and the changing visions of both architects and the Melbourne’s they have created. A city is a living thing, an entity in its own right, and Melbourne is most definitely that.