Historical Buildings, Melbourne
There is a trio of buildings from the ‘marvelous Melbourne’ era which together make up the historic sections of the ANZ Banking group of buildings.
The first is what has been dubbed, The Gothic Bank’ on the corner of Queen and Collins Streets. and built 1883-87 for the English, Scottish and Australian (ES&A) Bank as banking chambers and managers residence. The interior is a stunning time warp to when money, or so it seemed, was no object in the boom times of Melbourne. The ceiling is well worth craning the neck and admiring.
Building 2 is on Collins Street and was the Melbourne Stock Exchange and built 1888-91. Sadly it started in a boom time and completed when the Victorian economy had taken a nose dive and the stock exchange itself almost went broke – hard times indeed. The exterior of the building has varied goblins and griffins that stare down on Collins Street. The interior is like the gothic bank and well worth peeking at.
Building 3 fronts Queen Street and was the Safe Deposit Building where the rich and famous (not necessarily the same people – LOL) could store away all their ill-gotten wealth and away from the riff raff who had to line up in the main banking chambers. The interior of that building serves as a walkway to the new and modern world HQ of the bank.
It should be noted that the 3 older buildings on the corner of Queen and Collins were owned and occupied by banks and all these former banking buildings have, over time, merged (read swallowed up) with the ANZ Bank of today.
In the basement of the Gothic Bank is the ANZ Banking Museum, which is in need of refurbishment. I thought the time line wall showing the year of the first moon landing and the banks super-doper improvement at the time to be a bit tacky. Funny, the banking museums ATM was out of action, but it only dispensed fake notes anyway - LOL
Addional photos and description can be found at: http://www.walkingmelbourne.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=880
One of the real gems of Melbourne is the stunning Block Arcade, which runs from Collins Street and does a left turn under an impressive dome before heading out to Elizabeth Street. Until a major fire in the 1890’s it was the home of the now defunct but famous George’s Department Store.
‘Doing The Block’ was the done thing to do when in Melbourne on any day of the week – Sunday excepted as everyone went to church – and particularly on Saturday mornings
From “A brief history of the Block Arcade” a free 20 page publication (see web site below)
“The Block was the meeting place of Melbourne with a reputation as the most popular place to be seen and shop. One enthusiastic visitor commented that, “In this street you would see women to equal any in the world for their physical beauty, stature and grace of carriage; they all looked like goddesses as they walk along” “
There are quirky shops, an outlet for Haigs Chocolate, a photographic studio, a doll and toy bear shop that also rerstores those critters to their former glory, and so much more.
The most famous of all the establishments in The Block Arcade is, ‘The Hopetoun Tea Rooms were named after Lady Hopetoun, wife of Lord Hopetoun, Victoria’s first governor. The tea rooms were the place for young ladies, dressed in their finery, to come to eat. These young ladies wore the latest fashion in hats and gloves and were usually accompanied by their mothers or grandmothers.’ (Quote from “A brief history of the Block Arcade”) The tea rooms first opened in 1892 and have their own web site - http://hopetountearooms.com.au
There are not many parliament houses around the world that have housed 3 different parliaments: 1856 – 1901 Victorian Colonial Government; 1901 – 1927 Australian Federal Government (Melbourne was capitol city during that period); 1927 – present day Victorian State Government – and after all those parliamentarians, the building has never been completed and is unlikely to ever be completed to its original design.
It is a fascinating building and much is open to the public – grand entrance (the Vestibule), Queens Hall with the imposing statue of Queen Victoria sternly watching to make sure all is well, Legislative Assembly (Lower House), Legislative Council (Upper House), Parliamentary Library and a public dining area called Strangers Corridor (actually better than it sounds and they do excellent lunches and high teas – recommended – booking essential and only when Parliament is not sitting).
I just love quirky history stories and Queens Hall contains more than a few great yarns – seems the statue of Queen Victoria was unveiled in London to HM QV and she “Was not amused!” Un regally her left foot was showing and not in accordance to protocol the correct right foot AND that left foot was wearing a roman sandal exposing royal toes for all to see. She vowed never to see the statue again and commanded that it be dispatched to a far away colony – and you can’t get much further and still be within “The Empire.”
Although the grand stairway and colonnaded entrance fronts Spring Street, the Parliament building is set in extensive gardens and includes a tennis court and lawn bowling rink. During one Australian Open Tennis Tournament, Martina Navratilova was staying at the Windsor Hotel and gazed out the window to the un-used tennis court. Permission was sought and quickly given for tennis royalty to use the court for practice. A temporary building sits in the gardens and is known as “The Chook House” and houses some 30 members of parliament.
The web site shown below contains a wealth of information on the parliamentary procedures under the Westminster System as well as videos; live streaming of procedures and much, much more. I’d strongly recommend visiting From Westminster to Spring Street
There are free tours that take place at 9:30 am, 10:30 am, 11:30 am, 1:30 pm, 2:30 pm and 3.45 pm from the Vestibule and last around 1 hour. Note tours do not operate when Parliament is sitting – check web site for details.
Can I strongly suggest partaking in Victorian Parliament High Tea which is a challenge - pre-bookings essential and only operates when Parliament is not sitting,
Note there are security checks prior to any visit to the building, so leave guns, knives etc at home.
Melbourne has many historical buildings and the following are just a few.
Parliament House is the seat of the Victorian state parliament. It was built in stages between 1856 and 1929.
The Princess Theatre. This fine theatre was completed in 1886 and boasts a magnificent marble staircase.
In the same vicinity is the famous Hotel Windsor. It was built in 1883 is the only Grand Hotel remaining in Australia.
St Paul's Cathedral is located diagonally across from the iconic Flinders Street station. It also was built in the 1880's.
Coops Shot Tower is now part of Melbourne Central shopping complex. Built in 1890 it was still used until 1960.
The website below has information about many more historic sites and give details of a walking tour designed to see them.
It is touted as Australia’s finest public building – and I tend to agree with that sweeping statement. It is also said to be one of the finest Italian Renaissance Revival buildings in the world. Built 1858 – 62 and designed by nineteen-year-old architect JJ Clark, who designed many other buildings around Australia.
The building was originally designed as a repository for the vast amounts of gold dug up in the gold rush of the 1850’s and the gold vaults are still there and open for inspection – sadly minus the gold. I strongly recommend a visit and particularly if you have an interest in history as the interior contains an amazing collection of displays, including a “Ned Kelly” room (infamous bushranger), early Melbourne and so much more.
I love history stories with a twist and was so treated by a site guide at The Old Treasury. Seems Charles Nuttall the artist who painted - 'The Opening, Commonwealth Parliament', Exhibition Building, Melbourne, Victoria, 1901-1902 was not paid enough by The Commonwealth for his work and so “negotiated” to “move” images in the painting to better locals within the painting. Those who refused to “negotiate” were left a blur in the painting. (click onto the hyper link to see an image of the painting).
The building also houses an office for the governor of Victoria (not open to the public) and the Victorian Marriage Registry.
Entrance is free and the building is open 10am – 4pm Sunday to Friday. I would recommend allowing up to 6 hours to visit, depending on your love (or otherwise) of history.
Now 160 years old and a mix of Australian Regency and classic Italianate architecture, Como House is, arguably, the gem of the historic houses within the city. As its website states,
'Boasting one of Melbourne’s finest gardens, an inspiring historic mansion and an impressive collection of antique furniture, the property provides a glimpse into the privileged lifestyle of its former owners, one of Australia’s wealthiest pioneer families.'
Built by Edward Eyre Williams and his wife Jessie in 1847, folklore is that Williams proposed to his wife at Lake Como in Italy, naming their Melbourne home in its memory. But it was a much simpler home under the Williams' - single storey, but with much larger grounds (includes the present day municipal park and oval) running down to the banks of the River Yarra.
The Williams' didn't stay long - selling it in 1852. It was onsold a year later to John and Helen Brown, responsible for the 5 acre garden that remains part of the property today, and added a second storey. But bankruptcy forced him to sell and Como House was bought, in 1864, by Charles and Caroline Armytage. The house was to remain in the family until 1959 when their descendants passed the house onto the Historic Houses Trust. It is the Armytages' who are primarily responsible for what we see today - both externally and internally - the house full of the family's furniture and possessions.
It's a fascinating place to wonder round - with the family having lived their until 1959, it's a mix of 19th century grandeur (check-out the wonderfully understated ballroom and games room) with mid-20th century living (providing an insight into a comfortable lifestyle, even if the ever increasing costs of the upkeep eventually forced the house to be donated to the country rather than see the land sold off and the house demolished - like so may other grand houses nearby in the wealthy suburb of South Yarra).
There's a well-regarded licensed restaurant on the grounds (Bursaria), the occasional live concert and family days - and pcinicking in the grounds is positively encouraged.
Opening times: 10am-4pm daily (except Christmas Day and Easter Friday)
Admission fees: House and gardens: $A12 (adults), $A9 (concessions), $A6.50 (child under 14), $A30 (family)
Gardens only: $A5, $A3, $A2, $A10
Website states that admission to house by tours only, although when I went (Sept 2009), I toured the house without the guide
Photography not allowed inside the house
walking in melbourne is very different . Its not as old as Europe and not as new as Asia..thus there is a beautiful blend between the two . Here is a picture of gragoyle looking out from a building ....isnt it just so contrasting ?
Walk around Collin Street area or the Petit France ....
The Old Customs House makes a perfect location for the Immigration Museum celebrating the stories of those who have immigrated to Victoria. There are computer interactive programs, movies, and written logs of people that changed the way Victoria's population looks today.
Children* and Concession Free.
Free admission to the ground floor.
Group bookings are also available.
Disabled access & facilities available.
* Children 3-16 years inclusive.
Rippon Lea is the last of Australia's great privately owned 19th century suburban estates. It was designed and built in 1868 in the Romanesque style and is now managed by the Australian National Trust.
Its a grand dame of houses, and the gardens are of international significance, with a lake, 19th century orchards, a palm garden and lawns. Many local families gather on the lawns during the summer for picnics etc..
There are tours of the house every half an hour between 10am and 4pm (worthwhile and the only way to see the house itself). Its a grand place but without being overawing - this is 19th century Australia afterall, so no excesses of Baroque and Roccoco excesses! :)
A$11 entrance (house and garden) or A$6 for just the gardens.
Open 10am-6pm. Tuesday - Sunday
It was hard not to notice. Somewhat reminiscent of the market displays in European towns it came as no surprise to find out that it was an Italian brand (Bertolli) who were flogging their latest sauces in an open part of Federation Square.
As they were also giving away free samples (about 1 1/2 spoonfuls) of pasta, Rosemarie and I took advantage and dipped into the cuisine. I don't remember what it tasted like, just that I enjoyed watching the world go by opposite Flinders St. Station for ten minutes.
The extensive garden retains 14 of the original 45 acres, and features a lake, grotto, gardens, buildings and a magnificent fernery. The garden was preserved by the last owners Ben Nathan and his daughter Louisa Jones. Mrs Jones modified the interior of the house in the 1930s, adding a glamorous Hollywood-style swimming pool. Not only did it look glamorous but the people who came to the famous parties held there fitted the mould as well. Mrs Jones gave Rippon Lea to the Nation, in care of The National Trust in the 1970s.
This is evident throughout the city centre and all inner and garden belt suburbs of Melbourne. Unlike the UK, Melbourne has preserved much of it's Victorian era architecture. Infact it is the world's largest existing Victorian era city in number of buildings built during Queen Victoria's rule, there remains today 10's of thousands of 19th century buildings in the city and suburbs. At the height of it's 19th century building boom Melbourne had a population of 500,000 people in 1888, slightly larger than Sydney and the fouth largest city of the British Empire after London, Glasgow and Calcutta.
Government House, Parliament Buildings, The Treasury, Trades Hall, Exhibition Buildings, State Library, Princes Bridge and The Town Hall are to only name a few in major buildings of the Victorian era in Melbourne.
The Parliament House is another fine example of the Victorian heritage and was built during the gold rush in 1854. The building was constructed with long steep steps, classic lamps, tall windows and high pillars structured on the grand entrance.
Guided tours are conducted free when Parliament is not in progress.
Public tours available:
10.00am, 11.00am, 12.00pm, 2.00pm,
3.00pm and 3.45pm from the vestibule.
Right on the “Paris end” of Melbourne, Windsor Hotel was built in 1883 and has since became the grand hotel of the country. In 2004 it was awarded the State Award for Excellence as “Best Hotel Accommodation Deluxe Five Plus Star” by the Australian Hotel Association. This 5-storey Victorian architecture hotel has 180 rooms and offer a full butler service along with other modern facilities. It is owned and managed by the Oberoi Hotel chains.
Windsor Hotel is on Spring Street right across the Parliament House, the Old Treasury Building, a block away from the Princess Theatre and a walking distance to the Treasury Garden.
I suggest that taking a walk on the spring street is a must for any tourist to see the elegant Victorian heritage of the 19th century Melbourne.
"To go to Rippon Lea is to see the last of Austrtalia's privately owned 19th century suburban estates." So goes the publicity blurb on their brochure.
Built in 1868, this baronial Romanesque-styled is secreted inside classic VIctorian-styled gardens so typical of England. They are of international significance.
When Sir Thomas Bent acquired the property in 1904, the year after Sargood's death, he disposed of 35 allotments from the estate. In 1911, Benjamin Nathan, owner of the Maples chain of furniture stores, acquired the property and it was kept as a family home until his daughter willed it to the National Trust in 1963. By then the Australian Broadcasting Commission had purchased 0.8 of a hectare (1954) for its televisions studio and other land had been sold in the 1940s. In 1972 the Trust took over the property with its well preserved residence and undertook refurbishment of the gardens, fernery and other horticultural outbuildings.