Located at 328 to 330 King Street, Melbourne, on the south east corner of Latrobe Street, the building formerly known as Russell’s The Old Corner Shop is now officially offered for sale. Requiring significant work – the Latrobe Street wall has been braced by the City of Melbourne for a number of years now, the building is a remarkable remnant of the early Gold Rush era of Melbourne.
We have previously profiled the property in an article published in September, 2017. You can revisit it here.
The Russel family have owned the building for over 120 years. Lola Russell’s (the current owner) Grandfather purchased the building in 1899 and converted it to a general store and newsagency.
The property is to be sold as a commercial site, with the pitch ‘Ready for refurbishment and restoration’ from commercialrealestate.com.au, featuring an article by Alanah Frost from the Herald Sun on July 13, 2021.
Melbourne’s oldest home for sale for first time in 100+ years
Melbourne’s oldest home has hit the market for the first time in 120 years, offering up a nugget of gold rush era history.
Once a merchandise store for those heading to the goldfields, it’s now officially been listed for sale for $2.9m-plus.
For the last century, during which it became known as Russell’s Old Corner Shop, the corner store was home to Lola Russel and her husband George Dixon.
Ms Russell, now in her late 90s and in an aged-care facility, was born and lived at the property for most of her life before her husband died in 2017.
The pair, who were both actors, lived in the original living quarters above and operated a cafe downstairs.
But due to her age and health, and the declining state of the building, Ms Russell’s family have been left with no option but to sell the heritage-listed property.
In 2019, family spokesman Owen Dixon said he wanted to see the house, which has been in the family for two generations, restored.
But he said the priority was Ms Russell’s health and settling her into appropriate aged care.
“We’d like to see it used as a cafe downstairs and maybe turned into a museum upstairs,” he said.
“George and Lola loved the theatrical and film industries — we’d be willing to accommodate that, but it’s got to work with the major plan.”
At one point, the National Trust had been developing a plan and fundraising to save the building but it’s believed that has since fallen through.
Allard Shelton agents Patrick Barnes and Joseph Walton said they hoped someone would step in and look after the iconic building, which was steeped in Melbourne’s history.
“We’re very much engaged and attune to the historical and heritage nature of the building and one of the best ways to refer to it is, that we see it as being a bit of a passion project,” they said.
“It’s such an amazing property. Someone will have an idea for it.”
The building is being marketed as “ready for refurbishment and restoration” and suited to retail and office space.
It’s also across the road from Flagstaff Gardens and close to Flagstaff Station.
The property will be sold via an expressions of interest campaign ending August 5.
The real concern is that the property has significant land value, but as it is Heritage Listed and requiring major structural repairs it will not attract suitable buyers. It would be a great relief to see the City of Melbourne or the State Government purchase the property then re-purpose it as an historical building, a window on Melbourne’s distant past. Time will tell. We hope that it is restored and recognised for what it really is – a simple but elegant Heritage treasure of our city’s past.