It a bit stunned me to discover that this pair of large unnamed but seemingly well kept double storey terraces has never featured in a heritage study or been included in a heritage overlay. Considering the huge amount of redevelopment that Wellington Street has seen since the 1960s it is remarkable that they remain a feature of this area.
They are legacy of the time in which Wellington Road was the main tram route through the area. The creation of the Dandenong road highway at the rear in the 1960s to divert traffic and increase throughput of vehicles may have provided some reprieve for the smattering of terraces along Wellington Road. Although it has also given rise to an increasing number of apartment and office buildings in recent years which has literally hemmed these boom buildings in.
This pair is very typical Melbourne style. Symmetrical Italianate terraces divided into three bays with a tall parapet above a deep bracketed cornice. The parapet consists of a central cartouche with crown flanked by balustrade and dotted with finials sitting upon pilasters and party walls effectively hiding not only the gable roof but also the chimneys.
The decoration of the party walls is particularly grand with lions heads presenting a symbol of status as well as tall acanthus scrolls and other mouldings. The party walls frame a large verandah, the corrugated roof of which is barely visible from the street. The verandah is dressed in iron lacework, however the styles differ for each house. 56 has a lacework frieze, fine brackets with small pendants at their ends springing from corinthian cast iron columns. The balustrade is in spaced panels with a cast iron rail. The pattern of frieze, brackets and columns is repeated below and in between is a fine timber frieze. This house presumably retains the original treatment. 58, in contrast, appears to have had its verandahs remodelled with the removal of its cast iron columns. It does not feature a frieze and has simplified brackets, narrower balustrade panels and wooden arches on the ground storey. This remodelling could have occured as early as the Federation period, but possibly later. 58 also has its second storey windows converted into French doors. Both terraces have rather plain facades behind the cast iron screen, with a tall opening in each bay. The doors have richly decorated surrounds including skylight and side windows. Doorways and halls gravitate to the middle party wall, keeping living areas separate.
The rendered wall and remodelled courtyard is a contemporary addition, understandable given their context, but unsympathetic all the same and a sign of modernism’s increasing hold over this area.
My estimate of the date is around 1887-1888.