Heritage Listing – What does it really achieve?

For many people a Heritage Listing is only applied to historic buildings. In itself this is an interesting concept. What deems a building historic? Times are rapidly changing. Is it now time to protect some of our historical developments in Architecture and Construction?

Right now there is serious discussion occurring at the highest levels of Government in Victoria on the provisional listing of Federation Square by the Heritage Council of Victoria after application was made late last year by the National Trust to preserve the precinct’s integrity.

It goes to the deeper question – what is worth preserving? Melbourne is an ever evolving city with a Metropolitan spread that is now well over 100km in diameter. It features inner city living, semi-rural living, sea-side living and plain old suburbia. Over the last 70-80 years, post World War 2, there have been some truly significant advances in both purposeful design that acknowledges climate and location, as well as some stylistics that are truly Australian in genesis and application.

The ‘Modern’ Architecture of post war Australia was very much a part of the new developments of the 1950s in Bayside Melbourne. Architects such as Robin Boyd, Neil Clerehan and Roy Grounds actively pushed the envelope on new ‘Modern Design’.

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Boyd Baker House – Architectural Folly or Vision for the Future?

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Modernism – Time to Protect Midcentury Modernism with Heritage Listing.

It comes down to preserving what is in fact our heritage over time; where such ‘modern’ design (for the 1950s and 1960s) represents a significant shift in Australian Architectural and Design values.

The following article from the ABC gives a solid insight into the issue.

Architecture advocates argue for change to interpretation of heritage buildings

Melbourne’s beautiful Victorian-era buildings are widely appreciated as some of the city’s most valuable assets — but that was not always the case.

Decades ago, debate raged about whether Victorian architecture was worth saving at all.

These days it is Melbourne’s post-war buildings that are in the crosshairs, with homes from the 1950s and ’60s at the centre of a debate around which architectural styles are worthy of protection.

So, is it time for the community’s understanding of what is considered a ‘heritage’ building to evolve?

National Trust Victoria advocacy manager Felicity Watson thinks so.

‘Exciting time of experimentation’

Ms Watson said mid-century modern architecture evolved during a time of significant change in Melbourne, culminating in the hosting of the 1956 Olympic Games which showcased the city to the world.

“In terms of architecture, the post-war period was a really exciting time of experimentation,” she said.

“There were lots of really skilled and significant architects that were practicing.”

She thinks it is time to reshape the way we think about buildings from this era, which are often dismissed as daggy.

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Felicity Watson thinks we should be protecting mid-century architecture for future generations

[Photo: Felicity Watson thinks we should be protecting mid-century architecture for future generations]

“We really see this as a turning point in the heritage movement,” she said.

“In the 1970s it was about protecting places of Victorian heritage — which at that time were not always seen as the way that we appreciate them now but were sometimes seen as ugly and undesirable.

“That’s sort of the argument we’re seeing in relation to post-war heritage.”

Ms Watson called on local and state governments to recognise the significance of these homes, but said property owners also had a responsibility to protect them.

“There are certainly views in the community that heritage is an encumbrance on a property,” she said.

“But what we really need to take into account is the benefit to the community and not think about just individuals.”

Beaumaris a haven of mid-century modern

One of the largest concentrations of significant post-war homes can be found in the bright, open-plan, mid-century modern residences of Melbourne’s bayside suburbs.

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Local community group Beaumaris Modern has sprung up to spruik the architectural innovation they believe makes these homes worthy of preservation.

The group’s president Fiona Austin said many homes in the area were designed by significant Australian architects.

Ms Austin, an interior designer, said the group’s members were distressed at seeing so many mid-century modern homes demolished; homes that evolved during a time of important architectural innovation.

“People were sick of dark houses that look like something from England,” she said.

“Young architects, after the war, started designing houses that face north, face the garden, had big windows, skillion roofs, flat roofs and you know, enjoyed outside spaces.

“It’s perfect for our climate and still is now.”

Only last week the group fought — but failed — to save a home on Mariemont Avenue in Beaumaris which was designed by architects Chancellor and Patrick in 1962.

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The home was originally identified by Bayside City Council as worthy of protection in a 2007 heritage study.

But in 2018, the council abandoned planning scheme amendments to introduce a heritage overlay on this and other mid-century properties, after what they described as strong opposition and community division.

Bayside City Council now plans to introduce a voluntary process for owners to nominate their mid-century homes for possible inclusion in a heritage overlay.

National Trust Victoria has urged them to reconsider, saying conducting their own study could have protected this “significant home”.

In a statement, the council said the permit to demolish the property was issued by a private building surveyor and did not require council approval because it was not covered by heritage controls.

‘Jury still out’ on financial impact of heritage listings

Boroondara Council, in Melbourne’s east, has a large concentration of heritage properties, albeit from a different era.

Councillor Coral Ross said the jury was still out on whether heritage listings drove property prices up or down.

“Our role and our responsibility is to conserve and enhance the area which we live in,” she said.

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Fiona Austin founded the community group Beaumaris Modern to foster appreciation of mid-century architecture.

“We have done large surveys which say that our community values the character of the area in which they live and the heritage is something that they really value.

“The reason that people move into an area is because they like the architectural style [and] we certainly have a lot of people that want to live in our area.”

Beaumaris Modern is trying to take matters into their own hands by matching sympathetic house hunters with mid-century modern properties.

Ms Austin said at least one local real estate agent had embraced the niche market.

“He has a database of over 100 people who want to buy a mid-century house in Beaumaris, so he goes to them before they go on the market and often just matches people with their houses,” she said.
Modern additions to Melbourne’s heritage listings

The City of Melbourne has just released an audit of heritage listings across the CBD.

Greens councillor Rohan Leppert described the 2,000-page Hoddle Grid Heritage Review as “the mother of all audits”, unprecedented in scale in Victoria.

The review considered increasing heritage protection for 64 properties and six precincts within the grid — including some from the post-war period.

The City is now seeking permission from the Planning Minister to formally exhibit the Planning Scheme amendment C328, which proposes permanent heritage protection for properties identified in the review.

Cr Leppert said he was surprised many of the buildings had not been granted heritage protection already but said heritage was a “tricky issue”.

“We need to really carefully measure the social heritage of a place, the architectural heritage [and] the scarcity of particular types of buildings,” he said

Cr Leppert said the review had looked at post-war and post-modern buildings including the Hoyts Mid City complex in the Bourke St Mall and the Lyceum Club in Ridgway Place.

“The Hoyts Mid City complex is maybe not what Melburnians typically think of as something worthy of heritage protection but it is quite a remarkable building,” he said.

“The Lyceum Club is not a building that people might necessarily think is a standout piece of architecture.

“But it is something that we think has remarkable social and architectural heritage and is quite unique in the way it came about, so we’re seeking protection for that building as well.”

Cr Leppert said there would always be competing interests between development and heritage protection — especially on the most expensive land in the state.

He hopes the public will embrace mid-century architecture as an important part of the city’s history.

“I think public heritage values do change over time and we’re having a fascinating debate publicly about that at the moment.”

Source: abc.net.au

It is probably a very opportune time to have this discussion. Buildings of real significance have disappeared very quickly here in Victoria, leaving only a façade that has no real purpose. Or in the case of the Beaumaris homes – gone forever. It’s time to expand the understanding of Heritage, not just the ‘definition’, and to take some pride in what is and has been a magnificent journey – in under 200 years.

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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.

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Maritime Beginnings – A Time for Reflection

Holiday times – a great time for reflection, for contemplation. Australia is a nation based on maritime immigration. Originally individual colonies, the 6 Colonies each supported their own navies. You could say we came by boat. But what of the heritage, the historical locations and buildings of those times? Are we really ensuring those significant locations are adequately protected and maintained?

Sydney Harbour features some of our oldest Maritime history and heritage locations. The Sydney Harbour Federation Trust manages much of this. It manages Cockatoo Island and the nearby Spectacle Island is managed by the Navy. The small island called Snapper Island however is not. It’s currently managed by, believe it or not, the Commonwealth Department of Finance. With a seemingly impassable block between this Department and the Sydney Harbour Federation Trust, the island is slowly decaying through neglect.

Sydney’s tiny heritage-listed Snapper Island in sorry state

It’s the smallest island in Sydney Harbour, once a training ground for sea cadets but now shuttered up and home to a gently deteriorating collection of heritage-listed buildings and a raucous seagull colony.

But Snapper’s relative obscurity should be no reason for a large company, now seeking to demolish one of the island’s structures, to confuse it with an identically named island 200 kilometres to the north-east.

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Sydney’s boat-shaped Snapper Island, just 1.65 hectares in size, sits 200 metres off Drummoyne. Credit:Mark Merton/Sydney Images

And that’s just the beginning of Commonwealth-owned Snapper Island’s woes. An impasse between the federal Department of Finance and the Sydney Harbour Federation Trust has left the tiny island in bureaucratic limbo, while its heritage structures lapse into decay.

Broadspectrum, the company that, in a previous incarnation, ran offshore detention centres on Manus and Nauru, last month applied to knock down an ablutions block on the island under a management contract with the Department of Finance.

But in documents lodged with the federal Environment Department, Broadspectrum nominated not one but two sets of co-ordinates to pinpoint the island’s location.

The second set appear to identify not the Sydney Harbour island but a Snapper Island off Port Stephens. So far, the company (which admits undertaking no public consultation on the project) has offered no explanation for the confusion, despite repeated approaches from the Herald.

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The tiny island is in bureaucratic limbo, while its heritage structures lapse into decay. Credit:Deborah Snow

Sydney’s Snapper Island, just 1.65 hectares in size, sits 200 metres off Drummoyne and is close to nearby historic Cockatoo Island (owned by the Harbour trust) and Spectacle Island (owned by the navy).

All three islands are woven into the rich nautical history of the western harbour, and it was long envisaged that Snapper would eventually pass to the trust, set up by John Howard in 2001 to manage former Defence lands around the harbour. Indeed in 2013-14 it appears the trust did carry out some rudimentary preservation works on Snapper.

But the Herald confirmed this week that negotiations between Finance and the trust have ground to a standstill over a lack of funds for remediation.

Finance, meanwhile, has included Snapper in 77 Commonwealth sites it has subcontracted Broadspectrum to manage on its behalf.

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Between the wars Snapper Island was converted into a youth nautical training facility, its surface flattened by rock-blasting, and stone seawalls sculpted to create the shape of a ship. Credit:Peter Morris

The company concedes that demolition of the ablutions block will “result in significant impacts to identified heritage values at Snapper Island” but insists there is no alternative because of threatened asbestos and lead-paint contamination.

Prominent Sydney business identity Joseph Carrozzi, who chairs the trust board, accepts that the island is “an important site and we have been in discussion about the potential transfer to the Harbour trust. However it is [our] view that the transfer should not proceed unless it is linked to the required funding to remediate the land and open it to the public.”

Source: smh.com.au

In its earliest days right up to Federation the fledgling Victorian Colony operated its own Navy and a series of defensive forts.

Victorian Naval Forces

The Colony of Victoria commenced construction of its first armed vessel in 1853, HMVS Victoria which was launched on 30 June 1855 and arrived in Victoria on 31 May 1856. Victoria carried out a large variety of tasks during its life, including taking part in the Maori Wars, assisting in the search for Burke and Wills, delivering the first trout eggs to Tasmania, as well as numerous surveying and rescue tasks.

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The torpedo boat HMAS Countess of Hopetoun, 1919

In 1859 the first Naval Brigade was formed. The Brigade was re-organised in 1863 as a half-militia, re-formed in 1871 as the Victorian Naval Reserve as a full militia and re-formed again in 1885 as the Victorian Naval Brigade.
The Victorian Naval Forces comprised the permanent force known as the Victorian Navy, and a 300-strong Victorian Naval Brigade consisting of the Williamstown Division and the Sandridge (Port Melbourne) Division. Combined the Victorian Navy and the Victorian Naval Brigade were known as the Victorian Naval Forces.

Following the success of Victoria, the Victorian colonial government ordered an ironclad ship, HMVS Cerberus and was gifted the composite steam-sail warship, Nelson.

In 1884 several more warships were purchased by Victoria, these included the first-class torpedo boat Childers and second-class torpedo boats Lonsdale, and Nepean and the third-class gunboats Victoria and Albert. In 1886 the turnabout torpedo boat Gordon was acquired. In 1892, the first-class torpedo boat, Countess of Hopetoun arrived in Victoria.

To supplement the ships of the permanent force a number of government vessels were modified so as to serve as gunboats or torpedo boats. The hopper barges Batman and Fawkner were modified so as to mount a six-inch breech-loading gun at the bow of each ship. Two machine guns were also fitted. Strengthening of the bow, the fitting of a magazine, shell room, crew quarters and some armour protection for the crew added two more gunboats to the fleet. A compressor fitted to Fawkner meant that the torpedo boats could be serviced at sea. The tug boat Gannet and steamer Lady Loch were likewise modified.

The Harbour Trust boats Commissioner and Customs No. 1 had two sets of torpedo dropping gear fitted to each boat thereby adding two more torpedo boats to the fleet. In 1885 the government steamers Lion and Spray were fitted with six-pounder Armstrong guns. Spray was later fitted with two sets of torpedo dropping gear.

Supporting the Victorian Naval Forces were the fortifications located at the entrance to Port Phillip Bay and other sites around the bay. In the years leading up to Federation the Victorian Naval Forces were considered the most powerful of all the colonial naval forces.

Source: wikipedia.org

One of these fortresses still exists. The Pope’s Eye was an early attempt by Colonialists to block a perceived threat from the Russian Navy.

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The Pope’s Eye

The fort has been protected as a marine reserve since 1979 and is now part of the Port Phillip Heads Marine National Park. It is located about 7 kilometres (4.3 mi) inside Port Phillip Heads, 3 kilometres (1.9 mi) east of Queenscliff, 5 kilometres (3.1 mi) north of Portsea, and is less than 1 kilometre (0.62 mi) south-west of the former Chinaman’s Hat. It is named after a naval midshipman and has no religious connotations.

Construction of Pope’s Eye began in the 1880s, under the supervision of Sir William Jervois, by dumping bluestone boulders on a submerged 12-metre (39 ft) deep sandbank until they formed a horse-shoe shaped artificial reef, open to the north-east, just above high-water level. Construction ceased before completion as a fort because improvements in naval gunnery enabled the entrance to Port Phillip (The Rip) and the associated shipping channel to be protected by guns at the nearby Swan Island fort, as well as at Fort Queenscliff and Fort Nepean, making Pope’s Eye redundant for military purposes. The reef now hosts a navigation beacon.

Source: wikipedia.org

Ultimately, Victoria commenced as a Maritime state with a high dependency on its British origins. For your interest, at this time of year, take your time to stroll down to Williamstown on the shores of Port Phillip Bay to get a feel for what those times were like. The guide included here offers the full gamut of colonial architecture and the historical development of a ‘seaside town’. Williamstown in the past had a very busy port, railhead and facilities such as a Racecourse, Botanical Gardens, Military Barracks and a Rifle Range. Let’s start.

Syme Street

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Jetty at Williamstown in Summer.

  • Williamstown Landing Place (Syme Street). The eastern end of Commonwealth Reserve was used as an early landing place to unload stock as early as 1836, and was probably near or on the subsequent site of Gem Pier.
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HMAS Castlemaine berthed at Gem Pier

  • Gem Pier & Commonwealth Reserve (Syme Street and Nelson Place). A 30-metre stone jetty was built by convict labour in 1838 where Gem Pier now stands at the end of Syme Street. Permanently stationed at Gem Pier is the Bathurst class corvette HMAS Castlemaine (1942) – a World War II minesweeper which was built at the local shipyards. It is now used as a maritime museum. Aside from the ship itself there is a collection of nautical memorabilia and exhibits within its confines. Another historic ship the Enterprize sails from Gem pier every month. Bay cruises and returns trips to Southbank also depart from Gem Pier. Commonwealth Reserve is located in the heart of historic Williamstown, on the foreshore adjacent to Gem Pier. The park was originally a mudflat adjacent to the Bay, before being reclaimed. The planting style consists of formal avenues of elms. A number of heritage items are located in the reserve including the Tide Gauge House (formerly at Point Gellibrand), the anchor of HMS Nelson and the Wilkinson Drinking Fountain.

Nelson Place

  • Tide Gauge House (Nelson Place). Built by convict labour at Point Gellibrand in 1857 to house one of three tide gauges that arrived from England in 1855, the bluestone Tide Gauge House is associated with the origin of the Australian Height Datum.
  • Former Bank of Australasia (189 Nelson Place). Designed by Reed and Barnes and constructed by Pearce and Murray in 1876–77, this was the eighth branch to be constructed for the Bank since its incorporation in 1835 and is believed to be the first suburban example.
  • Former Bay View Hotel (175 Nelson Place).
  • The Wilkinson Memorial Drinking Fountain (Cnr Syme Street and Nelson Place).
  • Former English, Scottish and Australian Bank (139 Nelson Place). Also known as the Mission to Seaman, and now occupied by Breizoz Crêpes, this building originally housed the second suburban branch of the fifteen ES&A banks known to have been built in Victoria. It was the first major purpose built bank branch in Williamstown.
  • Williamstown Customs House (Cnr Syme Street and Nelson Place). A stuccoed structure erected from 1873, to designs presumably by the Public Works Department of Victoria, the building is architecturally significant as a fine and relatively intact example of conservative Classical revival style architecture. It served as a Customs House, offices and residence.
  • Jacks & McIntosh Boat Repair Facilities (120 Nelson Place and 36 Syme Street). One of the first private boatbuilders in Williamstown, Jacks and McIntosh boatbuilders and shipwrights were located at the end of Thompson Street in 1841. The site is now occupied by the Royal Yacht Club of Victoria.
  • Williamstown Immigration Office and Depot (120 and 123 Nelson Place). These offices were established in Nelson Place near the corner of Thompson Street in the mid to late 1850s to process new arrivals during the gold rush.
  • Craigantina (125–129 Nelson Place). Comprising three two storey shops and residences, Craigantina was constructed in 1886 for John Harker Craig.
  • Former Royal Hotel (85 Nelson Place). The grand scale of the Royal Hotel is a consequence of change to Victoria’s licensing laws in 1877, which required hotels to have a minimum of 30 rooms of minimum dimensions to be licensed. The architect of the brick hotel, completed by 1893, was hotel specialist T. Anthoness and the builder was Henry Hick.
  • The Old Morgue (Ann Street). Now situated in the old Port of Melbourne Authority site, the former morgue is one of Williamstown’s early structures, important architecturally but more especially for its role in Williamstown’s history. The Georgian style building is believed to be the first morgue erected in Victoria (at its original location near Gem Pier in 1859) and was constructed in bluestone with convict labour. The building was subsequently relocated three times. Access to the Morgue is by appointment or through historical tours.
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CSS Shenendoah at Williamstown Docks, 1865

  • Williamstown Dockyards, including Alfred Graving Dock (Ann Street and Nelson Place).
  • Former Oriental Hotel (55 Nelson Place). There has been a building (Skelton Oriental Building) on this site since about 1850 when Benjamin Skelton built his corner building after purchasing land from the Crown in 1849 – Section 1, Allotment 8. The large three-storey flat roof with ornate parapet building was built before 1852 when it appears in a drawing of Williamstown by the famous artist, engineer and surveyor Edward Snell (designer of the Geelong Melbourne Railway). The drawing was later printed in 1854 by Quarrill as a Lithograph. With Benjamin Skelton taking a mortgage in June 1851 to develop the land with second substantial building on the Nelson Place frontage of Allotment 8, it seems that the Skelton Oriental Building is in fact pre the mortgage of June 1851 making it importantly one of the few pre-separation buildings. Pre-separation is an important heritage period which is before the Colony of Victoria separated from the Colony of NSW on 1 July 1851 and that period is pre Gold Rush too (September 1851). It is a unique building in design as well as age—the oldest remnant three-storey building.
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Restaurant themed after the RMS Titanic, 1 Nelson Place.

  • Former Prince of Wales Hotel (1 Nelson Place). Originally constructed c.1857, possibly to a design by Charles Laing, this is one of the oldest hotels and public buildings in Williamstown. It was first owned by the surgeon John Wilkins.[citation needed] Today it is occupied by the Titanic Theatre Restaurant.
  • Battery Road
  • Gellibrand Pier and Breakwater Pier (off Battery Road).
  • Williamstown Lighthouse or Timeball Tower at Point Gellibrand (Battery Road). Built in 1855 by convict labour, this bluestone tower originally operated as a lighthouse and still operates as a timeball. The tower is part of the Point Gellibrand Coastal Heritage Park, which is managed by Parks Victoria.
  • Fort Gellibrand (Battery Road). A 2.8 hectare site located near Point Gellibrand at the southernmost tip of Williamstown, Fort Gellibrand is of historical importance to the State of Victoria for its association with the development of defence strategies for the colony in the nineteenth century and for its association with the convict hulk period of the penal system in the colony. The Point Gellibrand shore batteries were first developed as part of an immediate defensive system for the city and port of Melbourne, prior to the establishment of batteries at the Port Phillip heads. The fort site contains the only remaining visible physical evidence of the system of four battery positions at Point Gellibrand from this period. The batteries at the fort were upgraded in the 1870s and 1880s, and the fort remained an integral part of the defensive system for Port Philip up until the late 1880s and 1890s. Today, the Fort is home to a reserve commando regiment of the Australian Army, the 2 Commando Company of the 1st Commando Regiment.[IMG View of Williamstown Beach from Gloucester Reserve car park, Williamstown]
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Shenendoah Hotel

The Esplanade

  • The Williamstown Dressing Pavilion (The Esplanade). Constructed at Williamstown Beach in 1936, the pavilion is an architecturally significant early example of European Modernism applied to the design of a pavilion structure by two then relatively unknown architects Arnold Bridge and Alan Bogle.
  • Former Lawn House (92 The Esplanade). In 1889–90 Williamstown’s prolific contractor, John Garnsworthy, built this house for his own use and lived there for at least the following fifteen years until the construction of his last residence, ‘White House’, at 5 The Strand. Mr Garnsworthy performed a number of large civil contracts throughout the State as part of the firm of Garnsworthy & Smith. These include the first contract for the costly formation of the entrance to the Gippsland Lakes (1883 for £13,328) and the Warrnambool breakwater (1884). Locally, his firm constructed part of the MMBW pumping station and the Melbourne Glass Bottle Works complex, both in Spotswood. Mr Garnsworthy was also on the first ‘election’ committee for the Williamstown Cottage Hospital after its incorporation in 1893.
  • The Williamstown Hospital (Railway Crescent). The Williamstown Hospital was opened on its present site in 1894. Enlarged and extended many times over the years, only part of the original building still survives and is only partly visible from Stewart Street.
  • Williamstown Croquet Club Pavilion (Victoria Street). Designed by Morsby & Coates and constructed in 1930, the Williamstown Croquet Club pavilion illustrates the development of Victoria Street as a fashionable middle class enclave in Williamstown during the Interwar period.
  • Williamstown Station precinct (Ann and Thompson Streets). The Williamstown railway station building and platform canopy, brick toilet block, timber and corrugated iron shed, platform, the Ann Street footbridge and the Thompson Street road bridge are all listed on the Victorian Heritage Register as it is the only substantially intact station precinct remaining from the original construction period of the Williamstown railway line.
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Williamstown Mechanics Institute

  • Williamstown Mechanics Institute (Electra Street). One of Hobsons Bay’s most historic sites, the foundation stone of the present building, originally a Mechanics Institute was laid in 1860. The institute now houses the Williamstown Historic society and a wealth of memorabilia about the local area and its development through the years, in addition to the thriving Williamstown Musical Theatre Company (WMTC) which has a vast history itself and stages various Musicals, Revues and Festivals throughout the year. http://www.wmtc.org.au
  • Excelsior Lodge of Industry Masonic Temple (Electra Street). Located close to the Mechanics Institute, this single-storey, red brick hall with a symmetrical Classical facade provides a powerful illustration of the importance of Masonic associations in the development of the Williamstown community during the nineteenth century and early twentieth century.
  • Park House, former Presbyterian Manse (27 Lyons Street). Designed by architect David Ross and built in 1856, this two-storey bluestone Georgian building was purchased in 1886 by Henry Hick and renamed Park House.
  • Former George Hotel (Lyons Street). An original timber building established in 1863 was replaced by the present building in 1872. The first licensee was George Gobal, a local councillor who served as Lord Mayor in 1879–80. The hotel was delicensed in 1927 and became a rooming house until 1978.
  • Former City of Williamstown Municipal Offices and Town Hall (Ferguson Street). The former Williamstown Municipal Offices uses an austere form of Italian and French Renaissance typical of the 1920s in Melbourne, were opened by the State Governor, Sir Arthur Stanley, in May 1919, almost one year after the foundation stone had been laid by the Mayor of Williamstown, Cr C Knowles on 5 June 1918. Following the amalgamation in 1994 of the City Williamstown with the City of Altona (and parts of other municipalities) the majority of municipal and administrative functions were transferred to the civic centre at Civic Parade, Altona. The buildings are currently undergoing restoration.
  • Former Williamstown City Council Electricity Supply Department (Bath Place). A near original example of an Interwar industrial building, the Williamstown City Council Electricity Supply Department building was designed for the Council by architects Frederick Morsby and HF Coates and constructed in 1929. This building in one of only two identified in the municipality that were directly associated with the Electricity Supply Department; the other is a former substation building in Stevedore Street.
  • Former Punshon’s Store (Ferguson Street). Designed by C. J. Polain, construction of this General store with cellar and roof garden was completed in 1890.
  • Former Melbourne Savings Bank (Ferguson Street). This building, now a residence and Dive shop, was opened as a branch of the Melbourne Savings Bank on 14 February 1887. It became a branch of the State Savings Bank of Victoria or ‘State Bank’ in 1912. In 1991 it became a branch of the Commonwealth Bank of Australia until 30 June 1995.
    The Strand
  • The Williamstown Rowing Club (End of Stanley Street, The Strand). Whilst the Rowing Club began in 1869, it did not purchase this site until 1875. The boathouse was added in 1876.
  • Ruffle’s Pier (The Strand). Pilot Thomas Ruffle built a stone jetty on the Strand, angled to the shore to reach deep water, sited nearby the present Anchorage Restaurant. His residence, Maxwelton, was located across the road from it. Ruffles advertised a ferry service in September 1856 and 1860, established at North Williamstown, to ply between his pier and Dalgano & Co. wharf, and to service steamers plying the Yarra. Ruffles died after an argument with locals over theft of stone from the pier structure. The wooden upper section of the jetty was removed sometime after his death in 1863 and before the construction of Barber’s Pier in 1879.
  • Mandalay (24 The Strand). This two-storey, colonial, Georgian derived style house was erected to the designs of surveyor William Bull in 1858 for ships chandler captain William Probert. Constructed of stuccoed bluestone, Mandalay is representative of the substantial houses which lined Hobsons Bay in the nineteenth century, many with their own piers across The Strand.
  • Craigdoon (14 The Strand). Constructed in 1876–77 for Peter Murray, who sold groceries, wine and spirits at his shop in Nelson Place, three doors west of Ann Street, from the late 1860s. Mr Murray remained in this house until at least 1910, adding five rooms from 1885 onward.
  • William Thomas Liley’s House (12 The Strand). This stone house with six rooms was built in 1862 for one of the longest serving pilots on the harbour, William Thomas Liley. He owned the house and resided there until after 1896. John Garnsworthy lived here for a time early this century prior to building the ‘White House’.

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  • Terrace Houses (10–11 The Strand). These two brick houses, each of six rooms, were built in 1881 for Samuel David Thomas, who had earlier been a successful gold miner and property speculator. He retained ownership of both houses until at least 1896, living in 10 and leasing 11 to various professional gentlemen, including Alex Wilson, an engineer; Richard Dowman, a Councillor; Robert Williams, a contractor; and a sea captain, Walter Vincent.
  • Cast iron fence and gates of Maritimo (8–9 The Strand). On this site in 1885, William H Croker, a local solicitor who specialised in maritime law, built his impressive boom-style towered mansion. He named it ‘Maritimo’. It is presumed that the fine cast iron fence was constructed sometime soon after. Maritimo was demolished in 1973, despite a long and concerted battle by local residents and conservation groups to save it, but the early front fence was saved.
  • White House (5 The Strand). Prominent Williamstown builder, John Garnsworthy (by then retired), commissioned this initially seven room stuccoed concrete house in 1907 at a reported cost of £1100. The villa was designed by him and erected under his supervision. The foundations alone cost £200, apparently in a bid to defeat the uncertain footings which had caused severe cracking in most of Williamstown’s major masonry buildings. He employed a similar approach in the Modern Buildings.
  • Ferguson Street Pier (Intersection of Nelson Place, The Strand and Ferguson Street). Initially called the Rosny Pier, tenders were called to construct this pier in 1924. Due to a dispute between over jurisdiction, the shoreward bluestone section of the pier was built by the Williamstown City Council, and the seaward end was built by the Melbourne Harbour Trust. In 1965, the Hobsons Bay Yacht Club was granted permission to moor its vessels on the south side of the pier, and has since expanded to occupy both sides of the pier. The pier was reconstructed in 2002/03.
  • Harts boatbuilding yard (Nelson Place near Ferguson Street). Sandwiched between the Ferguson St Pier and The Dredging Depot, it constructed small boats and yachts. The boatyard was offered for sale in 1893, and the land appears to have been purchased by the Hobsons Bay Yacht Club, who still occupy the site.
  • Former Port Health Officer’s residence (231 Nelson Place). Listed in the Victorian Heritage Register, this former residence and surgery is a distinctive and important example of a classical Revival town residence. It was built in 1852.
  • Blunts Boatyard and Slipway (Nelson Place). A rare operating example of the many small scale boat-building and repairing businesses which have operated on the Williamstown foreshore from the 1850s on, the Blunt family boat building business has operated continuously on this site in Williamstown since the 1880s. The site is entered in the Victorian Heritage Register.
  • Williamstown Navy Sea Cadets depot (Nelson Place, between Pasco and Parker Streets). The White Brothers operated a slipway here from at least 1877. The slipway was built on the northern side of the site, with a jetty the same length to the south. The facility is known to have been still operating in 1894. Substantial land reclamation was undertaken at the site sometime prior to 1907. Early photographs show the long pier still standing on the site in c 1925.

Steam Packet Hotel

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Steam Packet Hotel

  • The Modern Buildings (213–215 Nelson Place). In 1909, on the former site of a timber auction rooms and wood merchant’s yard owned by John Morgan, two concrete masonry shops and residences were erected by Williamstown builder John Garnsworthy. His tenants included a boot maker, a boot seller, and a watchmaker. The site is now occupied by Hobson’s Choice, a restaurant.
  • Former Advertiser Building (205 Nelson Place). Built between 1885 and 1888 for the proprietors of the Williamstown Advertiser, it served as both a printery for the newspaper and a shipping exchange. The building features a richly decorated facade with a frieze depicting William Caxton.
  • Former Williamstown Post Office (Cole Street). Built in several stages, beginning in 1859 just after the municipality was constituted, the Post Office typified public works design of the period. Extensive alterations transformed the building in 1895.
  • Steam Packet Hotel (corner Aitken and Cole Streets). A two-storey Classical Revival structure built in 1863 (to replace an earlier building), the Steam Packet Hotel was first opened in the mid-1850s.

Source: wikipedia.org

So as you can see, it wasn’t always such an issue to arrive here by boat. The fact is that’s the only way you could get here for many, many years. Right now it’s still those Port cities clinging to Australia’s vast coastline that still define our character. For people to move to inland cities, there needs to be a re-imagining of how we can live here with sufficient water, comfort and infrastructure to survive another 200 years. Right now Capetown in South Africa has virtually run out of water. Large cities need to start developing sustainable practices in architecture and town planning to cope with the massive increases in population. Decentralisation is also imperative.

But look around in Sydney, in Melbourne, look where we have come from. Whilst strolling in Williamstown contemplate a very simple fact – a maritime dependent pastoral state would not survive today. What should be the design for the future? Where will we be in another 100 years? Can we afford to leave it up to profit driven developers?

We think it’s well and truly time to develop a ‘masterplan’. Welcome to 2019.

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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.

Daylesford – The Enigma of Gold, Culture and the Healing Waters

This week we repeat our earlier blog from March 22nd 2018. It features the delightful Victorian town of Daylesford and its neighbour Hepburn Springs. Take the time to drive up to this delightful location – about an hour of driving – during the break. Swimming is available at both Daylesford Lake and Jubilee Lake. We will resume our regular blogs later this week.

A favourite destination for many is the town of Daylesford, about 100km west of Melbourne. Gold was discovered on Wombat Flats, now deep below Daylesford Lake, in 1852. These alluvial deposits were the forerunner to deep quartz mining, which continued until the 1930s. Gold – the foundation of another heritage town, in this case providing the bounty that built the magnificent buildings of Daylesford and Hepburn Springs.

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Daylesford these days is better known as the Spa capital of Australia. It has long been renowned as a place to ‘take the waters’ and now features the Hepburn Spa complex and walking trails with many springs to sample the mineral waters on your way. (The Hepburn Mineral Springs Reserve is a 30 acre reserve surrounding the Spa Centre. It is heritage listed.)

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It is also famous for the simply stunning buildings, its streetscape and the rolling hills, surrounding the extinct volcano – Wombat Hill, which overlooks the twin townships of Daylesford and Hepburn Springs.

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In many ways it is a challenge to maintain the historical character of the precinct yet still facilitate the needs of the regular stream of tourists and the local population. From the early 1990s, the local Hepburn Shire Council has received royalties on all mineral waters sold on to beverage companies in Australia. The majority is bottled in Melbourne. The funding then available has been used to develop the new Spa complex and other tourist related facilities.

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The Hepburn Springs Bathhouse was first opened to the public in 1895 providing ‘social bathing’. The Hepburn architecture is predominantly Edwardian due to the bushfires in 1906 which effectively destroyed the original township, which was predominantly Victorian architecture as in nearby Daylesford.

In 1864, the local population determined to protect the mineral springs from mining. The migrant populations from Italy, Germany and England rated the mineral waters ‘more valuable than gold’. A bathhouse was constructed in the 1890s. It has been remodelled several times. It was mainly the efforts of the ‘Swiss Italians’ that saved the springs for posterity.

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The most recent remodelling was completed in 2008. From what was effectively a rundown, red brick facility, a mix of Federation, Edwardian and other influences, constructed in the early part of the twentieth century, the Hepburn Bathhouse and Spa is now housed in a thoroughly modern complex, offering hydrotherapy, massage and beauty therapy. It is a tasteful extension and renovation that acknowledge the past yet provides the comforts of the present. The new development cost over $13 million.

Wombat Hill Botanic Gardens

For this week the other location to be visited is ‘The Convent Gallery’ or to give it its proper title ‘The Holy Cross Convent and Boarding School Brides of Christ Convent’.

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Purchased by the Catholic Church in the 1880s as a presbytery for the local priest, it was originally built back in the 1860s as a private residence for the Gold Commissioner. It was disparagingly referred to as ‘Blarney Castle’ at that time.

From the 1890s, the church expanded the complex to accomodate nuns and boarders – opening in 1892 with building continuing through until 1927 including the new North Wing and substantial chapel. The accommodation wing was three storeys with an attic. No heating was provided and with massive costs in upkeep, the nuns moving to alternative accommodation, by the late 1970s the building and its gardens were derelict and neglected.

In 1988, it was purchased by a well known local artist and ceramicist Tina Banitska. It was reopened on March 31st 1991 as the ‘Convent Gallery’. Since then there have been further rounds of renovation to the buildings and grounds that add new life to the original grandeur. These include two major glass fronted function rooms, a penthouse suite and the ‘Altar Bar and Lounge’.

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Externally the building retains its strong Victorian architectural features. Sitting high on the slopes of Wombat Hill, it provides panoramic views to the north and west of Daylesford town and Hepburn Springs. It houses several individual Galleries, a large retail area, a café, the two function rooms and the penthouse suite. It also retains four tiny ‘nun’s cells’ – the original nun’s bedrooms. Perhaps a reflection on the very frugal and harsh past.

It is a real celebration of Art History and Culture. We thoroughly recommend a quiet drink in the ‘Altar Bar and Lounge’ and a toast to the former Archbishop of the Melbourne Diocese, Archbishop Carr. He envisioned the place to become ‘a source of light and edification’ back in 1891. It may well have taken over a hundred years to materialise, but the Convent Gallery is certainly that now and well worth a visit.

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balance logo 20150209a

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