Keady Hill Houses 554-556 Swanston Street, Carlton. Melbourne, Victoria

Like a number former terrace houses around inner Melbourne, this row of two former homes since 1995 has been used as a brothel1  (known as “Manhattan Terrace” and 556 formerly as “Club 556”).   The otherwise elegant Victorian Italianate pair were built in 1880 and unlike many used for similar purposes appears to be in remarkably good condition externally, with their elaborate detail and symmetry, including their parapet urn and balustrade largely intact (although the windows, doors and transoms have been modified).

Keady Hill Houses 554-556 Swanston Street, Carlton

The parapet, which completely obscures a gable that unexpectedly runs parallel to the street,  features a arched shell motif and inscription flanked by urns, scrolls, balustrade and classical entablature including string course and brackets.  Vermiculation is used extensively as a decorative feature and the party walls include female heads although some of the accompanying scrolls have been removed.  The upper storey features dentils and iron lace frieze and brackets and balustrade (although the frieze is missing from 556 and lacework has been replaced at some stage with sympathetic, but unmatching iron work).  The entrance is marked by classical iron columns that continue through the upper storey.  The terrace is built on bluestone foundations with rendered gateposts and stairs fronting the street.

The heritage value of this terrace was first identified in the Carlton Conservation Study by Nigel Lewis and Associates, 1984 and it currently its own heritage overlay under the City of Melbourne Planning Scheme HO1132 and has a heritage grading of C.3


  1. VCAT Occupational and Business Regulation List – File No. 1999/073265
  2. Melbourne Planning Scheme 05ho
  3. i-Heritage id 3740

Leave a Reply

Recent Discussion
  • Lesley Poker: Built in 1874. Originally built by a John Watson ( very wealthy) who built the one next door for his...
  • Anne: Thanks for your comment. We own one of these terraces and would be interested in any info you have.
  • Kate Van Dyck: Love this photo. One off my GG Grandfather’s lived in No 21 and died at that address. So...