45-53 Chaucer Street, Moonee Ponds. Melbourne, Victoria

We’re extremely lucky to have such an avid readership and one passionate reader Ian Macwhirter, responded to our call for contributions with a photo and well written piece about a beautiful boom style freestanding terraces of Chaucer Street in Moonee Pond and provided permission to publish them here. Ian writes:

Freestanding terraces at 45-53 Chaucer Street viewed from the north.  Photo by Ian McWhirter (all rights reserved) used with permission.

Freestanding terraces at 45-53 Chaucer Street viewed from the north. Photo by Ian Macwhirter (all rights reserved) used with permission.

Chaucer Street is in a neighbourhood of streets named after famous British poets. This row of six free standing double storey terraces was built between 1888 and 1890. Similar rows of free standing terrace houses are rare in Melbourne and this row of six is unique to the area. The availability of land in this area at the time of building could account for the row’s design.

The tuckpointed, polychrome brick terraces are in the Australian filigree style with typical Melbourne features including a high parapet with an arch pediment topped with an acroterion flanked by scrolls and balustrade and a pair of urns. The party walls are decorated with scrolls, floral paterae and floral cartouche. The cast iron lacework has an ivy and floral motif. The cast iron balusters are in panel and spacer combination, again with floral motif. Two central columns topped with capitals provide symmetry to the entire façade.

The upper storey balconies are accessed by two wide segmental arched sash windows panelled with red and blue acid etched glass.

The lower storey has one large offset segmental arched window and a large decorative panelled door framed by leadlight sidelights and fanlight. The front porch is tessellated tiled in Grasmere design with decorative encaustic feature tiles and slate edging flagstones.

The row was most likely built on speculation at the time when Moonee Ponds was developing as a major commercial hub in the north of Melbourne. Essendon Town Hall in Mount Alexander Road was opened in 1886 and many of the commercial and residential properties date from this period. The bricks were most likely sourced from Hazzard’s Brickworks in what is now Cliff Allison Park in North Essendon.

From 1913 to 1917, along with no. 8 Chaucer Street (now demolished) number 47 (constructed AD 1889) was one of the campuses of Penleigh Girls School. This would account for a large number of ink bottles excavated from the rear.

One of the earliest owners of the house were the Potts sisters, Alice, Laura and Mary Ann who lived here into the 1950’s. It was, undoubtedly because of their long stewardship that the property has managed to retain its original fabric and its many fine features including high ceilings, fireplaces with marble and timber surrounds, roses, cornices, stairway and timberwork.

Many thanks Ian for your contribution ![editor]

Australian Terrace can add that these terraces are located within City of Moonee Valley heritage overlay HO16.City of Moonee Valley Planning Scheme 12HO


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