Melbourne’s Most Magnificent Streetscapes – Edition #2

East Melbourne 3002 – Hotham Street

Flanked by the famous Fitzroy Gardens and a mere stroll to the Melbourne Cricket Ground or through the majestic gardens to Melbourne’s CBD, Hotham Street showcases some of the city’s proudest architecture from the nineteenth century. Withheld from the expansive development that would have eternally marred this tree lined boulevard, a captivating mix of Victorian, Italianate Victorian and Art Deco architecture styles surround the two imposing churches. As one of the most significant streets in proximity to the CBD, many noteworthy individuals are involved in the history of Hotham Street.

157 Hotham Street – ‘The Gothic House’ c.1861

Steeped in architectural history and listed on the Victorian Heritage Register, the one-of-a-kind residence at 157 Hotham Street dubbed ‘The Gothic House’ is a startling display of the Victorian Gothic style. A distinct bluestone building with a symmetrical manner, the home features a steeply pitched gable roof, ornate gablets, sandstone keynotes and Gothic pointed arches. It was designed by honoured architect Joseph Reed (who also designed the Royal Exhibition Building and State Library), for Deputy Surveyor-General Clement Hodgkinson. Pavers in the rear courtyard have the stamping ‘J Glew’, from the Brunswick brickworks of John Glew, who is thought to be favoured by Joseph Reed. Clement Hodgkinson was also significant in assistance of the layout of the nearby Fitzroy Gardens, so his importance as well as the building’s unique manner and illustrious architecture legitimise its heritage standing.

72/74/76 Hotham Street – ‘Queen Bess Row’ c.1886

Towering over the Hotham Street landscape in a spectacular Queen Anne Revival architectural style, the trio of original townhouses culminating in numbers 72,74 and 76 form an undeniable East Melbourne landmark. Built with the wealth of the gold rush, Queen Bess Row was the work of famous architects Tappin, Gilbert and Dennehy; with great influence from English architect Richard Norman Shaw. In Mayfair-like fashion, the building showcases distinct red and cream tones, imposing archways, colonnades and a mighty pitched roof. Unique in its occupancy history, the building was converted into apartments after the death of the original owner’s son in 1895. Understood to be Melbourne’s first apartment building although not of its first premise, low income tenants and boarders would call Hotham Street home throughout most of the twentieth century. After a famous council feud in 1990, it was eventually subdivided into three separate houses and sold off to individuals.

50 Hotham Street – ‘Shrewsbury House’ c.1869

An exquisite symmetrical showcase of Gothic Revival architecture, 50 Hotham Street otherwise known as ‘Shrewsbury House’ holds the largest residential landholding in East Melbourne, approximately 1,090 sqm. Arriving upon a Gothic arched entry porch with tessellated tiled flooring, the home features tuckpointed brickwork, trademark archways and a bluestone basement. It was designed by architect George Raymond Johnson, known for numerous significant buildings including the North Melbourne Town Hall and Metropolitan Meat Market. In 1968, Johnson advertised for tenders for the building of the bluestone basement, which was won and completed by John Pigdon, builder of Faraday Street in Carlton. The home was first home to Charles Rippon a solicitor, who stayed from 1869-1877. It was most recently sold in 2017 for a clean $12 million.

54 Hotham Street – ‘Sheerith’ c.1909

When legendary builder Clements Langford erected 54 Hotham Street in 1909, it was assured that the stability and finish of the home would stand the test of time, and over a century on, it has done exactly that. Langford’s impact is still seen across Melbourne today, he was the president and treasurer of the Melbourne Master Builders Association and president of the Master Builders Federation of Victoria.  Another in the Queen Anne style of architecture with a Federation style return verandah, this illustrious home features tuck pointed brickwork, tessellated tiling, terracotta ridge tiles and the trademark burgundy, green and cream colour palette. The home was built for Elizabeth Davies, the widow of a famous flour miller and the daughter of carpenter Alexander Brunton, who bought land and initiated building of the inspirational Altson’s Corner on the corner of Elizabeth and Collins Streets. The home has more recently undergone significant architectural renovations while retaining its beautiful façade.


100 Hotham Street – ‘Castle Coombe’ c.1934

Standing out from the plethora of nineteenth century architectural works on Hotham Street, the Art Deco sensation known as ‘Castle Coombe’ makes a medieval statement. Designed and built by master builder Bernard Evans, who eventually went on to become Lord Mayor of Melbourne, Evans was a pioneer in the state’s development of flats and apartments. An advertisement in the Argus newspaper in 1933 described the ‘Castle Coombe’ building as flats of an ultra-modern Tudor design. The arresting façade combines splayed side walls, tuck pointed brick quoins and half timbering strikingly.  

Between the rush of Hoddle Street and the relaxation of Fitzroy Gardens, Hotham Street in East Melbourne is an unrivalled position, enhanced with historical prominence and firm planning controls. The works and home of some of Melbourne’s true architectural pioneers, the early infusions of the Victorian era shine on Hotham Street. So, if you’ve got time to spare before the big game at the G or after you catch a show in town, check out one of Melbourne’s Most Magnificent Streetscapes.