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The Melbourne Club

Heritage Listed Location


36-50 Collins Street Melbourne, Melbourne City, Victoria, Australia

Places Nearby

Melbourne, 3000 0.3km Southbank, 3006 1.3km Fitzroy, 3065 1.6km Collingwood, 3066 2.0km Richmond South, 3121 2.2km

Details / Significance

What is significant?
The Melbourne Club was established in 1838. Squatters predominated in its early membership suggesting that the impetus for the founding of the club came from country people needing somewhere to stay in town. The Melbourne Club developed into an exclusive club for upper class males after its present building at 36 Collins Street was built in 1858. The Collins Street building is the third clubhouse and the first on this site. Contractors Abraham and James Lincare erected it in 1858-59 to designs by Leonard Terry. The Rackets Court was constructed in 1876 to the designs of Terry and Oakden. Between 1883 and 1885 major works were carried out including construction of the new dining room wing and construction of the new kitchen block. The architects for these alterations were also Terry and Oakden. In 1891 a pair of two storey houses adjoining the Melbourne Club's land were acquired by the club. The pair of houses, which were converted into servants' quarters appear to have been constructed in c. 1879. The Melbourne Club is a three-storey brick and stucco structure with basement. The main dining room wing with canted bay to the street (1883) is the most notable of later additions. The club also includes a rear garden with verandah. The garden was established in 1858 and extended in the 1880s and the verandah dates from 1859. The interior is basically intact and reflects the original light, austere appearance shown in early photographs. It includes among other rooms; a library, main dining room, private dining room, breakfast room, billiard rooms, lawn room and bedrooms.

How is it significant?
The Melbourne Club is of aesthetic, architectural, social, historical, and scientific(botanical) importance to the State of Victoria.

Why is it significant?
The Melbourne Club's clubhouse is of architectural significance as a rare intact example of a nineteenth century purpose-built clubhouse. Externally the Melbourne Club clubhouse is of particular interest for its stylistic links to Charles Barry's Traveller's and Reform Clubs in London. Internally the building is relatively intact, its layout and internal planning demonstrating the operation of a gentlemen's club. The Melbourne Club is of architectural significance as a notable work of distinguished Melbourne architect, Leonard Terry. The main dining room wing with canted bay to the street by architects Terry and Oakden is the most notable of later additions and alterations epitomising the classical style of Leonard Terry. The building is important for its intact fittings and fixtures from early decorative schemes, particularly bathrooms dating from 1858 and 1883. Elements of particular note include the main dining room, which includes elaborate overmantels designed by Leonard Terry, the main stair, which retains its original detailing, the 1914 lift and the elegant verandah to the garden.

Established in 1838, the Melbourne Club is of historical importance as the oldest surviving gentlemen's club in Victoria. The establishment of a gentleman's social club based on the London principles represented a declaration of the shared belief of its founders in the importance of social class and the notion of gentility in early colonial society. The Melbourne Club is of social significance as its members have included many of Victoria's wealthiest and most influential citizens. These have included leading pastoralists, men prominent in the spheres of politics and public affairs, and leading representatives of the professional and business sectors.

The rear garden established in 1858 has aesthetic and scientific (botanical) significance as it includes the largest Platanus x acerifolia known to exist in Victoria and an uncommon Phoenix reclinata.

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1 the melbourne club front elevation sw may1999
the melbourne club external entrance
the melbourne club garden verandah sw may1999
melbourne club plan
London Plane Tree, Melbourne Club Garden, North end.
London Plane Tree, Melbourne Club Garden.

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