Grand old Mansions of Essendon – Recycled as Religious Headquarters and Girls Grammar Schools.

North Park Mansion is built upon ‘the highest point in Essendon’. The land was purchased in 1887 by Mr Alexander McCracken for the sum of 5000 pounds. Architects Oakden, Addison and Kemp designed the house for Mr McCracken, and Mr D Sinclair built the rather grand home, described as being in the Queen Anne revival style.

Alexander McCracken was described as ‘a brewer and a sportsman’. He had joined the family brewery firm ‘McCrackens’ as a junior partner in 1884.


The crash of the 1890s all but destroyed the company. It did however keep trading, avoiding liquidation. In May 1907 McCrackens and five other brewing firms became a merged company – known as Carlton and United Breweries. Alexander McCracken was made a director.

McCracken was the genial spokesman for the brewing industry from early in his career in 1891 through until his demise in 1915. The irony? He died from cirrhosis of the liver.


During his lifetime he was President of the Essendon Football Club and then the first President of the Victorian Football League. He raced horses with some success and indulged in a myriad of other activities in his region of Essendon – all manner of sports, debating and a keen interest in poultry, pigeons and canaries.

In 1915, his widow sold off the remaining North Park Estate lands – only the Mansion and six acres remained. The Mansion was first sold to Mr Harvey Patterson, a BHP executive. In turn Mr Patterson onsold it to its current owners – the Columban Order – a Catholic Church Missionary Order.


The house is built utilising Red Northcote Bricks, Sandstone from Waurn Ponds (near Geelong), Basalt from Malmsbury and roofing tiles imported from Marseilles in France.

As previously mentioned this rather elaborate home was constructed in a Queen Anne Revival Style – red bricks for the walls and timbering with rough cast in the gables, orange terracotta tiles, ornamental barge boards, decorative finials and chimneys and ornate glazing.

It was in fact a riot of architectural styles, a combination of Scottish Baronial, French, Victorian and Tudor. Or perhaps ‘Tudor with modifications’. By all accounts it was truly the home of a big spending, articulate brewer – Alexander McCracken. A spacious ballroom, since converted to be a chapel, was added in the early 20th Century. The Columban Order added a new wing in 1966 and an office building replaced the original stables in 1968. The Coach House is substantially retained. And stranger than fiction – from 1923 onwards, it has been a virtual monastery. The building was added to the Victorian Heritage Register in 1997 – for both the building and its ‘gardenesque style’.


The former North Park is architecturally important in demonstrating a high degree of creative achievement, being a pioneering example of the Queen Anne Revival domestic architecture in Australia. This style became the dominant expression in Australian domestic architecture in the decades immediately before and after 1900. The house is architecturally important for its use of imported Marseilles terracotta roof tiles in possibly their first application in Australia. Made by the French company, Guichard Carvin de Cie, St Andr, these unique tiles feature the firm’s signature bee imprint. The interior is architecturally important for its rich decoration including multi-coloured pressed metal ceilings, plaster friezes, timber panelling, encaustic tiling and elaborate stained and coloured glass. Other important extant detail includes ornate door knobs and push plates, and gas light hardware. Three ornately carved chairs in the entrance hall dating from the McCracken ownership are important for their continued association with the house.


The grounds of North Park are of aesthetic importance as an outstanding example of the gardenesque style and for the unusual three curved terraces, wide drive, garden path remains, and the evergreen trees and large conifers which contribute to the picturesque profile of the overall composition. The circular fish pond (disused) with its central figurine fountain and random rubble base is of unusual design and an important garden element now uncommon in Victoria. The location of this structure opposite the ballroom bay window is an important design feature. The cast iron gates, fence and hand gate supported by dressed bluestone are of an outstanding design, with particularly large spears and large scale iron members. The coach house and gardener’s shed are important contributions to the interpretation of a late nineteenth century large house and garden.


The second Mansion for review is ‘Earlsbrae Hall’ – an incredibly grand building now known as the Private Girls School – Lowther Hall.


The building was originally constructed in 1890 for the brewer Mr Collier McCracken – of the McCracken brewing family. He was Alexander McCracken’s uncle.

The actual building was commissioned by Architects Lawson and Grey. It was monumental in scale and a ‘classical revival’ building. Builder WK Noble took two years to build it. It consisted of 27 rooms on two levels with a promenade roof. It was originally surrounded by 3 acres of grounds.


The property was purchased in 1911 by the entrepreneur Mr Edward William Cole, a most flamboyant character. As an ‘out of town’ residence, Cole moved there with his family and a colony of his favourite monkeys. He added a vast aviary and set up a 75ft long floral rainbow in his front garden.

Cole was the owner of the famous Coles Book Arcade in Bourke St Melbourne. When he died in 1918, Earlsbrae was sold to the Anglican Church. The church redeveloped it as a Girls Grammar School.

“The main former residence retains its pedimented front and 16 giant order corinthian columns, the dwarf walls, the opdium overlooking the steps to the verandah and the steps themselves are of importance within the area of land as defined on the plan” Victorian Heritage Database


Remarkable old buildings saved by the Churches in the early part of the 19th Century. Next week we review two more grand mansions in the same area – Clydebank, now Ava Maria College, and St Columbans Girls School, formerly home of a very well heeled pastoralist names Gillespie.


balance logo 20150209a

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

Frognall – The Original Canterbury Mansion


Melbourne in the 1880s was a boom town. With the influx of wealth from both the Golden Fleece (the Merino Wool) and the Gold Diggings of both Ballarat and Bendigo, many of the newly rich (noveau riche) set about building their Shangri-Las. At the same time the rest of the population were also building and expanding into the outer suburbs of Kew, Essendon, Williamstown and Malvern. Mr Clarence Hicks, the original owner of Frognall, the very large mansion situated on 7 acres of land at 54 Mt Albert Rd Canterbury, was a timber merchant, arguably Melbourne’s largest and most successful.

The most recent valuation of Frognall done in recent years put the property value at an estimated $20 million.


Unlike many of the homes we have reviewed in the past Clarence Hicks the original owner was neither a pastoralist nor a mining magnate. He was – a timber merchant – the material of choice for most building projects during the 1880s. Clarence was very well connected with Melbourne’s early elite. His father had been the registrar for Copyrights and Patents and a close friend and confidant of both John Batman and John Pascoe Fawkner.

804Clarence Hicks commissioned the colony’s leading builder of the times, Mr Robert Gimlin to ‘erect one of the finest mansions in the colony’. It appears to have been oft quoted in respect of many of Melbourne’s mansions. The elite of the colony were somewhat competitive. At the time Mr Clarence Hicks was the President of the Boorondoora Shire (better known as Camberwell).

The mansion constructed became known as Frognall. True to trend in the 1880s it was an Italianate style mansion. However it was unique in that it featured an amazing degree of concrete architectural renderings including arcaded and balustraded loggia. The grand building is enhanced with a pedimented entrance and deep bracket eaves with a tower capped on each side by projecting broken pediments.

The major difference between Frognall and other impressive 1880s mansions is that the estate and gardens remained largely intact. As well, the service wing, stables and coach house block remained in relatively original condition. It has however since been subdivided, unfortunately.


Clarence Hicks was not to enjoy his creation for long. Located less than a mile and a bit from his timber yards in Upper Hawthorn (opposite the Tower Hotel) it all went pear-shaped with the crash of the 1890s. All that remained of the original extensive timber yards was a Mitre 10 hardware store and carpark.


Clarence fought valiantly to protect himself from bankruptcy and managed to do so. He headed to Western Australia where he had previous dealings with the WA Jarrah Timber Company. He had resurrected his career, but unfortunately met with an untimely early death at 46 years of age. He was by that stage also the Grand Master of the Western Australia branch of the Masonic Lodge – a connection that may well have saved him from total misfortune during the crash of the 1890s.

The estate was purchased by the Laycock family in 1901 who remained in residence there until 1942. The family offered the building to the Commonwealth Government as a gesture to the then War effort. The house became an RAAF base, part of the communications network, and remained so for over 40 years.


Frognall was privately purchased in the early 1990s. The present owners received permission to subdivide and there are now a further 4 properties on the estate.


Many of Melbourne’s grand homes and mansions did not survive the early 20th century or if they did, were modified terribly during the 1960s through until 1980s. Frognall has survived and for that we are fortunate. A grand home with an equally grand and impressive beginning. A reminder perhaps of more genteel times.

balance logo 20150209a

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

The Manchester Unity Building – Owners fear Metro Tunnel risks


The Manchester Unity Building, an iconic Melbourne landmark located on the North West corner of Swanston and Collins St is considered to be ‘at risk’ by its owners corporation, from the tunneling works in Swanston St for the new Metro Tunnel.

The fragile facade of the tower is ‘at risk’ from the tunnelling but the danger is being overlooked says Kia Pajouhesh, Chairman of the Manchester’s owners corporation.


But first let’s get some perspective here. The Manchester Unity Building, located opposite the Melbourne Town Hall was constructed in 1932. The site had been purchased in 1928, but the onset of the Great Depression meant construction was initially delayed.

Architect Marcus Barlow designed the building which was duly constructed by W.E. Cooper Pty Ltd reputedly for a contract price of £215,000.


The building was constructed to a very tight construction schedule, using tracking methods for the first time in Australia. The build was completed in record time and the first section was opened to the public for shopping on the 1st of September 1932.

A grand opening celebrating the formal declaration of the building’s completion, featuring lights illuminating its tower and spine occurred on the 12th of December 1932.

The building is listed on the Victorian Heritage Register. In its ‘Statement of Significance’ it is described as a ‘modern commercial gothic style’

Statement of Significance


The Manchester Unity Building was built in 1932 by Walter Cooper Pty Ltd. It was designed by the architect Marcus R Barlow to meet the corporate needs of the Manchester Unity Group, a friendly society with 28,000 members in 1932. The twelve storey building, located prominently on the corner of Collins Street and Swanston Street, has a concrete encased steel structure and is clad with moulded terra cotta faience. The overall effect is one of a modern commercial Gothic style. The structure is crowned with a corner tower of soaring, diminishing buttresses in a style presumed to be inspired by the Chicago Tribune Building, which received worldwide publicity when built in 1927.

Within twelve months of commencement of work the Manchester Unity building was officially opened by the Premier of Victoria. By early May 1932 the sub-basement, basement and ground floors were ready for shopfitters and other finishing trades to move in. The remaining floors were added at the rate of one a week, and by late July 1932 the roof was laid and work started on the tower. Newspapers carried regular reports on the progress of the building, and a trip to the city to watch construction was a regular event for many Melbournians.

440The Manchester Unity building was the first in Victoria to have escalators. These provided access to the basement and the first floor directly from the main arcade entrance at Swanston Street. It was also one of the first Victorian buildings with automatic cooling, and rubbish and postal chutes on every floor. Australia’s largest diesel generator, located in the sub-basement, provided an emergency power supply. Of the original lifts, two of the three have been converted to automatic operation but the beautiful inlaid timber and panelled interiors to the lift cars have been retained.
The exterior facade is clad in biscuit coloured terra cotta faience. The faience is intricately moulded to produce continuous narrow columns and shafts rising up the facade, serving to emphasise the verticality of the building. The bulk of the building extends to 40.2metres, which was the height limit for central Melbourne at the time. Prominence is given to the corner by the tower, which soars above the main bulk. Towers were permitted to break the city’s height limit as long as they did not contain occupiable rooms.


Internally there is extensive use of various Australian marbles as cladding to the walls. The ground floor lobby ceiling and cornices have high-relief depictions of Aboriginals, Australian flora and fauna as well as transport, building and primary industries. Cornice plaster panels in the corridors of all the floors carry depictions of the friendly society’s role in welfare provision.

Located on the eleventh floor are the former offices and boardroom of Manchester Unity. They walls are decorated with sliced timber veneer panelling. The boardroom table was constructed in situ and is nearly six metres long. The top is finished with a rosewood veneer and rosewood inlay border, and a moulded and carved edge. Twelve monogrammed leather chairs also survive. It is likely that the table and chairs were also designed by Marcus Barlow’s office, part of the total design of the building.


How is it significant?

The Manchester Unity Building is of architectural, historical, social, aesthetic and technical significance to the State of Victoria.

437Why is it significant?

The Manchester Unity Building is architecturally significant as one of the tallest building in Melbourne when it was completed in 1932. The architectural styling, with its soaring vertical emphasis, was a daring break from the conservative palazzo architecture of the 1920s, which was typified by large and dominant cornices. The styling was complemented by the fashionable cladding material of glazed terra cotta faience. The modern commercial Gothic style of the Manchester Unity Building stands in contrast to the ecclesiastical Gothic of nearby St Paul’s Cathedral. The building is architecturally significant as the greatest achievement of noted architect Marcus Barlow.

The Manchester Unity Building is historically significant as the initiative that convinced Melbournians that the building slump caused by the Depression was almost over, such was the grand scale of the project and the speed at which building progressed. The fast building programme was controlled by the use of a works progress schedule, an innovation to the local building industry at the time.
The Manchester Unity Building is socially significant as a landmark in both positioning and scale. It challenges, for scale and presence, the Melbourne Town Hall located opposite.


The Manchester Unity Building is technically significant for the surviving original Otis-Waygood escalator between the ground floor lobby and mezzanine. The Manchester Unity Building was the first in Victoria to have escalators installed.

The Manchester Unity Building is aesthetically significant for its intact interiors. The intricate plaster panel cornices and ceilings, the use of marble, and the inlays to the lift cars and sliced timber veneers in the boardroom all display a high standard of artistic workmanship that is without par for a building of this period. The boardroom table and chairs are historically and aesthetically significant. The survival of a boardroom table of this scale and grandeur from this period, complete with chairs, is unusual in Victoria. They formed part of the total design for the building.


The potential risk of damage to this building calls into question the difficult but necessary juxtaposition of development and preservation. It would appear that the building’s owners believe that not enough research or examination of potential damage to the building has been undertaken by the Authority charged with constructing the tunnel – the Cross Yarra Partnership, nor has it perhaps done enough due diligence on such risks to historic buildings – Manchester Unity, the Town Hall and St Paul’s Cathedral.

For a more rounded picture please read the article here reprinted from the Age Newspaper, April 12 2018.

Manchester Unity building warns of Metro Tunnel damage

Melbourne gothic landmark the Manchester Unity Building is at risk of cracking from tunnelling for the Metro Tunnel, its owners fear.

The fragile facade of the tower is at risk of cracking from the tunnelling, but the danger is being overlooked, says Kia Pajouhesh, chairman of the Manchester’s owners corporation.

The soaring Art Deco building on the corner of Swanston and Collins streets, built in 1932, is renowned for its narrow columns, glass walls and terracotta tiles.


The Manchester Unity Building on Swanston Street

Dr Pajouhesh has accused the authority and the consortium overseeing the project, the Cross Yarra Partnership, of failing to properly assess the building’s capacity to cope with vibrations caused by tunnelling under Swanston Street.

A one-hour property inspection was done on the building in February last year, but the assessment was “substantially deficient”, Dr Pajouhesh claims in a scathing eight-page letter sent to the authority.

“We are at a loss to understand the basis behind the decision to use land under the [Manchester] without this critical information,” he wrote.

Dr Pajouhesh is the owner of Smile Solutions, which occupies six levels of the building.

“This conduct leaves us with no confidence that the consortium has at heart the interests of the custodians of one of Melbourne’s most prized heritage assets.”


The 1932 building is one of Melbourne’s most beloved.

It comes amid revelations that five hairline cracks have emerged on the Westin building as a result of the early works at the City Square construction site.

A spokesman for the authority said the cracks in the building’s plasterboard were superficial, would not pose any structural risk, and would be rectified.

The Metro Tunnel project will provide much-needed extra capacity on the city’s rail network by allowing more trains to run through the city, outside of the City Loop. Once complete, the project will include five new stations and a nine-kilometre tunnel connecting the Cranbourne-Pakenham and Sunbury lines.

ad2ddc53bd65504e0bd52a527f836bc9edc9cf33Work is already under way to build the underground Town Hall station at City Square, but tunnelling under Swanston Street will not begin until next year.

The Town Hall station has recently been re-designed to make it larger and more spacious, and that will require more land.

The new designs indicate that tunnelling will occur closer to the Manchester building.

The consortium has already warned that St Paul’s Cathedral and Town Hall may have some superficial cracking, but their risk assessment did not include the Manchester building.

“[The Manchester] is much closer to the project’s CBD south station site than both St Paul’s cathedral and the Melbourne Town Hall,” Dr Pajouhesh says.

He also warns that “the grout between the tiles, which contains asbestos, is prone to failure.”

Dr Pajouhesh’s letter was sent on Tuesday this week, just as Melbourne University warned that the $11 billion underground rail project could damage equipment and facilities in the Parkville Biomedical Precinct.

The university’s chief financial officer Allan Tait said he was concerned that vibrations from tunnelling, and electromagnetic interference caused by trains running through the underground station, would “render critical research equipment inoperable”.

Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre has also warned that radiotherapy treatment machines may be affected by vibrations.

The Metro Tunnel spokesman said the authority had been engaging with the owners of the Manchester building since 2015.

He said two property condition surveys were carried out for the building in February this year and a comprehensive condition survey would be done before tunnelling began.

“The project has some of the world’s best engineers and tunnelling experts working through these challenges,” he said.

A government spokesperson said the building owners’ concerns were “the types of issues that are routinely managed on similar tunnel projects in busy cities around the world”.


These are quite serious matters. Note that the grout used on the Manchester Unity Building securing the external tiles contains Asbestos.

It would be appropriate that the Engineers responsible for the tunnel, its excavations and its infrastructure do more than pay lip service to heritage values.

Recently, the Cross Yarra Partnership facilitated the removal of many heritage listed trees on St Kilda Rd and Albert St in preparation for the Anzac Station excavation. It was said these trees could not be moved as there would be too much disturbance of underground services. Somewhat surprising in that the proposed excavation is to be ‘six stories deep’ – and action that surely may ‘disturb underground services’.

Melbourne has some wonderful historic heritage treasures. This soaring Art Deco building – the Manchester Unity Building, the grand old Melbourne Town Hall and St Paul’s Cathedral are just the most obvious of many buildings possibly subject to damage with construction of the new Metro Tunnel. And at this stage it is certainly not too late to put in place remedial research and provisional works to protect these heritage treasures.

Progress and development don’t necessarily require wholesale destruction. It is a bold and exciting project (the Metro Tunnel). But let’s at least ensure the protection of our city’s icons for future generations. It’s really time for action and re-assurance.

balance logo 20150209a

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

Call to Halt Temporary Queen Victoria Market Structure. Update on St Vincent’s Hospital Appealing Heritage Rulings.

This week we bring you two further updates – one on the Queen Victoria Market re-development and renovation, and one on the state of play regarding the St Vincent’s Hospital 11 storey extension project. In both instances there are serious challenges to Heritage Listings or Heritage Victoria rulings.

With candidates lining up to replace former Lord Mayor Robert Doyle, there is a significant indication that the Robert Doyle backed plan for the Queen Victoria Market will not proceed in its present format.


The issues involved are not just the heritage sheds, but the difficult and uncompromising trading conditions being imposed upon market traders during the construction period. Add to this the multi storey adjacent developments (approved) there is a general sense that the Queen Victoria Market would entirely lose its character and sense of history.

The market is a ‘people’s’ venue. Its stalls, its produce, its trading hours all reflect the demographics it has traditionally served – workers, students, migrants, bohemians and more recently city and inner city dwellers. It provides choice, quality and product simply not found in supply line marketing such as Supermarkets and Department Stores.


Alternative plans have been mooted, prepared and submitted by the ‘Friends of the Queen Victoria Market’ – and ignored.

There are strong objections from both traders and the market’s shoppers to the proposed development. Opponents are now asking that the temporary structure planned for traders to use during the shed dismantlement and basement construction now be shelved – permanently. Read this article from the Age Newspaper dated 02/03/18

Ditch $7m temporary pavilion, say opponents of Queen Vic Market plans


An artist’s impression of a proposed temporary “greenhouse” pavilion to be built on Queen Street, between the two sides of the Queen Victoria Market.

Opponents of redevelopment plans for the Queen Victoria Market say a $7.4 million temporary “greenhouse” pavilion is a waste of money that should be abandoned.

Melbourne City Council is set to approve new plans on Tuesday for the Queen Street pavilion, proposed to temporarily accommodate traders dislodged by council redevelopment works.

But those works were thrown into disarray last week when the state’s heritage authority refused to grant Melbourne City Council a permit.


The city council wants to put services for traders working in some of the 140-year-old upper market sheds below ground. It also wants to dig underground parking for 220 cars.

Heritage Victoria, though, ruled that this should not be done saying the proposed works were “unacceptably detrimental” to the heritage sheds, and that the works were unnecessary on economic grounds. Acting lord mayor Arron Wood has vowed to challenge the refusal.

But this challenge will take up to a year.


A view of the proposed temporary greenhouse pavilion, in Queen Street.

The council is pressing ahead with the planned temporary pavilion, designed by architects Breathe.

While the cost has risen from $5 million to $7.4 million, the structure is shorter than one the council approved last year – it will be 111 metres long, not 264 metres.

The pavilion’s ground level will be for traders while the upper level will include a greenhouse.

A council spokeswoman said the temporary pavilion would ensure stallholders could continue to trade within the market while works were carried out.

And she said the new pavilion would allow operators to test stalls with better access to refrigeration and storage, and trial different opening hours.

The greenhouse, designed to raise environmental awareness, will necessitate seven plane trees being cut down.

A lobby group representing some traders and shoppers, the Friends of Queen Victoria Market, said the pavilion project should be put on hold.

Spokeswoman Miriam Faine said a group of opponents to the plan intended to be at Tuesday night’s council meeting to speak against the pavilion.

She said there were two reasons it was not needed: “Their [the council’s] plans are up in the air, and the market at the moment, it’s half empty so they don’t need it for that reason too.”

She said the market needed more stall holders, “not more structures like this”.


An artist’s impression of the proposed buildings on the “Munro site”, on the corner of Queen and Therry streets, opposite the Queen Victoria Market’s deli hall.

Also at the council on Tuesday are designs going to Planning Minister Richard Wynne for a tower and linked low-rise building developer PDG is building, with the city council.

On land known as the “Munro site”, the tower will rise to 40 storeys. Together with the council’s building, it will include 410 apartments – including 56 low-cost housing units.

Ms Faine said Mr Wynne and the state government should be given credit for having refused the 60-storey skyscraper Melbourne City Council had wanted built there.


It would seem somewhat preemptory to continue with this part of the project if the heritage appeal is a minimum one year away.

The second update pertains to the St Vincent’s Hospital multi-storey development. The Hospital intends to press ahead with its plans to demolish a portion of the historical Eastern Hill Hotel (the former headquarters of the Eight Hour Day movement), the historic Easthill House and the rear of the Dodgshun House, on the location where the cottage St Mary McKillop was born in 1842 was located.

There is deep dissension within the local community and with the local Council (Yarra Council) with all relevant properties being covered by a full suburb heritage overlay.

Again, please read the Sydney Morning Herald article here reprinted from the 27/03/18.

Private hospital plans to demolish heritage-listed buildings

St Vincent’s Private hospital is seeking to partially demolish two heritage-listed Fitzroy buildings, one associated with the eight-hour day movement and the other with Saint Mary McKillop, to make way for an 11-storey hospital extension.


An artists impression of the new St Vincent’s Private hospital.

The hospital’s plans, labelled “imperialist” by local opponents, were approved by Yarra Council with strict conditions around the heritage buildings.

St Vincent’s Private subsequently appealed the decision at Victoria’s planning tribunal.

A justification for the development submitted by St Vincent’s says the hospital is facing “bed block” during the week, forcing it to divert non-elective or urgent private patients to other hospitals.

The new hospital wing will replace part of the existing hospital and includes demolishing a portion of the Eastern Hill Hotel, razing the historic Easthill House and removing the rear of the two-storey Italianate mansion, Dodgshun House.

The gold-rush era former Eastern Hill Hotel, on the corner of Brunswick Street and Victoria Parade, is listed on Victoria’s heritage register and was once used by trade unionists as the headquarters for the eight-hour day movement.

Dodgshun House, also on the register, is the Brunswick Street location of Marino Cottage where Saint Mary McKillop was born in 1842.

Easthill House on Victoria Parade is considered individually significant from a heritage perspective.

The entire site of the hospital also falls under a heritage overlay.

St Vincent’s hopes to replace all three buildings with a $94 million structure featuring natural and midnight copper cladding that will house 91 new multi-day beds for patients, 12 same-day beds and additional operating rooms.

The building will be set above a new podium on Victoria Parade and Brunswick Street.

Yarra councillor Steve Jolly said the plans also included building over a heritage bluestone lane and demolishing a three-storey building at 5 Brunswick Street that was an Indigenous birthing center in the 1970s.

“St Vincent’s Private can expand like invading imperialists or show a bit of respect for local heritage. It’s up to them,” Mr Jolly said.

“We can’t let big cheque books override our history.”

The hospital has also applied to expand an existing multi-storey car park at 93-99 Victoria Parade.

Unfortunately for St Vincent’s, its application to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal to review conditions put on its planning permit failed to get a clear result.

The conditions effectively stopped the hospital extension from intruding on any part of the sites listed on the Victorian Heritage Register.

Tribunal deputy president Helen Gibson said it wasn’t possible to provide an “easy or straightforward response” to the question asked of the tribunal.

“My opinion must be qualified and will not necessarily produce a simple, definitive answer to the underlying question of whether [the] conditions .. are valid,” she said.


The business case for the extension simply doesn’t stack up when considered against the actions of other inner city Hospitals. The Jessie McPherson and Mercy Hospitals moved to suburban locations where building provided no issues. Fitzroy is an iconic reminder of our original history. Apart from eyesores like the Housing Commission Flats on Brunswick St and the full estate there, it remains largely intact. On the surface it would appear that demanding the demolition or part demolition of heritage buildings of quite some significance is simply bloody minded. And remember, this is not an extension of the ‘Public Hospital’ but purely a money making venture, by St Vincent’s ‘Private’ Hospital.

It’s a well funded and clever ‘sleight of hand’ with smart copywriting of press releases hinting at minimalist effect to the area and its heritage. Well this time, many people both local and otherwise say ‘No!’

It’s an integral part of our heritage and it deserves to be preserved and acknowledged.

balance logo 20150209a

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