This post is part of my #Ballarat series of guest posts for Archi Parlour on instagram.
This series is all about Ballarat’s Heritage Buildings – as we have a wealth of historic architecture, dating back to the days of the gold rush when the city boomed in the late 1800s. Our city has many beautiful buildings, and it was difficult to narrow it down to just seven favourites – so here’s my selection. I wonder if any of your faves made the cut?
Former National Mutual Life Insurance Building (Allan Brothers Jewellers)
This beauty was built in 1905 and was designed by Architects: JJ & EJ Clarke. This prominent and exotic building in the centre of town is a favourite amongst many locals. It’s a great example of 20th century eclecticism, with a combination of Renaissance and Venetian Gothic elements. There are some historic images that show this building with it’s tower up top, which made it stand much more proudly in the streetscape.
The neighbouring Town Hall can be seen to the right. Construction commenced in 1870, with a large number of architects involved for the exterior and interior. It is a grand Palladian form with a proud clock tower.
Ballarat Railway Station
Ballarat’s grand heritage Railway Station complex is in the heart of town, and a gateway to our city. Construction commenced in 1862 (designed by the Railways Department, with architect unknown). It is of national heritage significance as it is one of only three surviving 19th century station buildings to retain the train hall. The entrance building and imposing mansarded clock tower was added in 1889, and has been described as “undoubtedly the most grandiose public building in Ballarat.” Architects Lovell Chen have been involved in the management of its conservation works. The State Government are currently looking into options for redevelopment of the whole precinct to revitalise and transform it into a commercial and cultural hub for both locals and visitors.
Shop at 23 Sturt Street
This little shop is located at 23 Sturt St, and was built in 1891. The facade of the first floor of the building is Flemish Baroque, with an element of Art Nouveau. It’s brightly coloured tiled facade is quite unique for its time. “The contrast of the blue tiles with the grey render creates a dramatic effect and reflects a contemporary desire to introduce colour into buildings to reflect ‘bright Antipodean skies’ in architectural design.” (Source: “Ballarat: A guide to Buildings and Areas 1851-1940” by local heritage architect Wendy Jacobs et al.) It has been identified as a favourite heritage building exterior amongst locals who have paused to ‘look up’, however mostly it goes unnoticed as it is above a strip of shops in Ballarat’s main thoroughfare.
The Ballarat Mining Exchange
The Mining Exchange was built in 1887-1889, and designed by Architect C.D. Figs, during the height of Ballarat’s gold rush. It was built with shopfronts to Lydiard St, and inside there are arcaded brokers offices which are around large central meeting space. Apparently it is the grandest example of this type of of building. One of it’s impressive features is its sophisticated lightweight steel roof framing and bullnose form to the roof of the main hall. These days the large light-filled space is regularly used for popular community events such as art exhibitions, designer/food markets, and also festivals such as the winter Rug Up festival and Ballarat Heritage Weekend displays and activities. It is a great example of how a heritage building can be adapted and re-used for contemporary life here. It’s unique character and the fact that it is a comfortable indoor space when Ballarat’s weather is inclement, makes it one of our city’s favourite buildings.
The Former Wesleyan Church
The Former Wesleyan Church (now Uniting Church) on Dana Street Hill was built in 1883 and designed by architects Terry and Oakden. Ballarat has many stunning historic churches around town, but this is one of the real Gothic beauties with its position atop a hill in the centre of town, with its picturesque steeply-gabled roofs. This fine example of polychrome brickwork – the combination of patterned red and cream brick – with basalt foundations is what gives it’s charm. When its west-facing arched windows reflect the dusk sky, the building really sparkles.
The Ballaarat Mechanics’ Institute
The Ballaarat Mechanics’ Institute was built 1860-1869 and was designed by architects Charles Boycott and J.H. Jones. There were once hundreds of these institutes throughout the UK and Australia, with the philosophy about educating the masses through access to information in order to gain knowledge. The library provided much-needed access to books, newspapers, periodicals, lectures and scientific demonstrations, and the halls were a place for social, cultural and recreational gatherings. It also became a popular cinema for many decades. The book collection is of great historical significance, and the library is still open to this day, as is the large ‘Minerva Space’ ballroom which is available for events. Minerva is the Roman goddess of poetry, medicine, crafts, commerce and magic, She evoked wisdom in the eyes of 18th and 19th century architects and educators. Her statue graces the top of this building’s grand facade, and she is perhaps the most significant architectural feature of the institute,watching over our city and guiding us into the future.
The Provincial Hotel
The Provincial Hotel, opposite the Ballarat Railway Station, was designed by Architect P.S. Richards and built in 1909. It is possibly Victoria’s finest Edwardian Hotel, due to its prominent corner location and impressive facade treatment. “The best example of large scale Edwardian flamboyance in Ballarat. The domed towers with Art Nouveau finials and the first floor with banded brickwork, and the contrasting red brick and dement render work generally to produce a spectacular example from this period.” (Source: “Ballarat: A guide to Buildings and Areas 1851-1940″ by local heritage architect Wendy Jacobs et al.) New owners have come on board to restore and extensively renovate the building which had sadly fallen into disrepair, and it now operates as a cafe/restaurant/bar and function centre with boutique accommodation. (Rumour has it that the business has now been sold to PetStock who will use it for offices downstairs, functions, and have their staff stay in the accommodation…it is unclear whether it will still operate as a restaurant which is open to the public at the time of writing).
Please stay tuned for the next instalment of the #Ballarat series: next up is contemporary architecture, and then some inspiring local women who are helping lead Ballarat to a better future.
Do you have a favourite Ballarat heritage building? Was it included above? Or perhaps you have another favourite? Please let me know in the comments below!
Talina Edwards Architecture: elemental design is a Ballarat-based studio, with a passion for sustainable design, green buildings and healthy homes. Click here to ensure you won’t miss out on our news!