Former Lonsdale House: 470-502 Lonsdale Street Melbourne
This rare pair of three storey terraces is one of a handful of original terraces remaining in the Melbourne Central Business District (CBD) and has had an interesting life. It was originally designed by prominent architect Lloyd Tayler. Shortly after its constuction in 1886 the terraces were converted into a private hospital known as Lonsdale House. It was used for a brief time by the navy during World War I, served as a music academy, nurses hostel and again a hospital during World War II. After the war it became the offices of the Australian Broadcasting Commission (ABC) before being absorbed into the construction of the County Court complex in the 1990s.
The terrace itself is composed of two symmetrical houses each with a central restrained square classical parapet to conceal a gable roof. The facade features circular balustrades and patterned bracketed frieze over a three storey cast iron dressed verandah and the levels get more detail on the windows toward the base. Fine filigree fretwork is wood framed with corner brackets supported by heavy cast iron columns.
The terrace gained heritage status when it was included in the Melbourne City heritage study in 1984 and has some local protection through a City of Melbourne heritage overlay.
Even though they look exactly like three storey terraces, they were designed as a private hospital, built by Dr Fitzgerald, who was probably the most prominent surgeon in melbourne from the 1860s to the 1900s. According to the ADB, he started his private hospital here in the 1860s, soon adding the fabulous Italianate but sadly lost mansion Rostella next door in 1869; then presumably re-built his private hospital in 1887 in this form. There was a common wall (and presumably a door) between the two, and the operating theatre was in the top rear of the right side ‘terrace’. There is a description and phots im pretty sure in ‘victoria’s representativ men at home’ c1904. Also notice that there’s only 1 door to the pair; the original plan shows that there was always only one entrance; so they only look like terraes, but in fact were never residences. (all this is from memory from the National Trust files when the county court was built, not sure the operating theatre survived in any recognisable form).
Thanks Rohan, I suppose that it shared a party wall with Rostella, it is technically a ‘terrace’ of one kind or another, I guess it would be limiting scope to exclude buildings like this that are obviously clearly influenced by the terrace form from a design perspective.
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