This pair of terraces stands out for many reasons. Firstly it is one of Melbourne’s few triple storey terrace houses. It really stands tall even in Albert Parks streetscapes which are littered with rows of (mostly double storey) terrace housing. Secondly because of the stark contrast in style and condition of the two. Thirdly that they don’t even truly share a common party wall (it is two party walls side by side) makes their development all the more interesting. Many villas in the Albert Park area share this double party wall configuration, however it may also suggests 79 could have been a slightly later addition.
79-81 Merton Street. Albert Park, Victoria
What is left of number 81, in contrast, is ostensibly crumbling. The facade appears to have been re-rendered, possibly during the Great Depression, with the addition of double hung windows and lintel which might account for the hallmarks of concrete cancer around the windows but not for the crumbling render elsewhere. None of the original chimneys are present. 81 has also had its second storey verandah closed in, by the looks of it probably at the same time, using wood with a double hung window. The openings on both seem almost off-centre. Windows also dot the of the typically blank end terrace wall. It looks like aluminium windows have completed the bastardisation probably in the 50s or 60s. An unfortunate brick wall greets the street and the entry appears to have been relocated to the side, fully enclosing the courtyard. Still there are signs of its former glory in its preserved but rusty cast iron lacework and columns at ground level and the corbels and female heads which decorate the party walls.
To me these terraces represent both a great potential and a real shame. With a little imagination this boom era building could have really stood out. But it is so heavily modified that it really is difficult to picture what it may have looked like originally.
Given the size and style it would seem that these terraces date to the 1880s, possibly 1887-1889.
The terraces are provided some local heritage protection via City of Port Phillip heritage overlay HO3.
Sad to see such a mess made of the two in such very different ways but both end up far from the genteel facade once intended.
OT – Went on a history walk in Burnley a few months back and got some shots of a row of terrace houses that had been restored to their original condition (knock me down with a feather!), will post ’em up on my blog for you (they’re located near Burnley railway station).
81 Merton St. was built as a doctor’s surgey and then later converted into a rooming house with 4 bedsits with adjoining kitchens. The side entry is original. I have been ttold that the front facade will be returned to its original glory.
Even unsympathetically ” renovated ” terraces have a unique charm.
They are quirky, historic time pieces that do not automatically require
fixing by the purists.
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