Dr Martin’s: 86-88 Collins Street. Melbourne, Victoria

This impressive row of two triple storey terraces was once actually a row of three built for Dr Robert Martin in 1873 by James Gall (a third house in this row was demolished in 1976 to give the Nauru House office tower a Collins Street address). It is now one of just a handful of terraces remaining in the Melbourne CBD.  The terraces, originally a combination of consulting rooms and residence have been adaptively reused as offices with ground floor boutique retail.

Terrace Houses: 86-88 Collins Street.  Melbourne, Victoria

Terrace Houses: 86-88 Collins Street. Melbourne, Victoria

The facade is of an extremely high quality, intricately detailed yet refined. In my personal opinion, this is (along with Tasma Terrace), perhaps the finest triple storey Australian style of terrace house design in Melbourne.

The verandah is double storey in the mode of many similarly dated Sydney terraces. The parapet consists of a single linear classical cornice encrusted with medallions below which sits an alternating row of bracket corbels and roses and entablature of multiple string courses, friezes and vent decorations. The windows of the upper storey are dressed in elaborate stucco moulded sashes with hanging rope and a generously protruding sill with brackets. The party walls are similarly fancy dressed in mouldings with tall corbels of acanthus, and scrolls above which sits a triglyph, floral (lyre on the verandah) and shell motifs.

A feature of the terrace is the custom casted ironwork which is a similar pattern to 364 Albert Street East Melbourne. The verandah is split into three bays by two cast iron corinthian columns and gently inflected iron frames pulling together a frieze of vine, delicate vine brackets with pendants. The upper verandah features a balcony rail that appears to have been cast in a single span which subtly tucks in at either end with a curve allowing it to sit outside of the columns in an “opera box” fashion.  The unique patterns of the balustrade are a combination of angles in a composition similar to a series of snowflakes, zig-zags and diamonds.  This treatment of the upper verandah allows it to use optical illusion to draw interest to the upper storey.  The lower storey frieze, fringe, brackets and columns run in parallel to the property line.

The upper storey facade is deliberately subdued and rendered with three flat arched windows per house.  The lower storey features a shopfront with parquetry flooring at the entrance leading into a deep doorway framed by a Renaissance style barrel vault.  88 features its original bluestone stairs at the entrance and rich wood surrounds and etched glass while the neighbour 86 has been substantially modified with its entry having been replaced with a modern glass doorway and an inappropriate shopfront.

The terraces are National Trust listed and the National Trust has lobbied for many years to have them listed of state significance. They are currently afforded nominal heritage protection as part of a City of Melbourne heritage overlay HO501.

364 Albert Street364

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