By Tristan Davies, Melbourne Heritage Action
Scaffolding going up on heritage buildings is often a worrying sign that demolition of facades is soon to follow, but a number of scaffolds coming down recently have revealed much better news.
On Elizabeth St, just past the market, the retained front of a Victorian building with stunning bronze shop front has been restored meticulously from under decades of limewash grey in front of the new Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation building, lifting the entire streetscape in that part of town.
Although the original plans included completely demolishing the building before MHA successfully objected, the team behind the project are to be commended for one of the better heritage facade incorporations in recent years.
Further down Elizabeth St at number 295, simply removing the large banner of former tenants Mitchells Outdoors has revealed a whole art deco facade complete with original window frames and decorative columns for the new Dong Ting restaurant.
If we cross over a block, we’ll also see the colourful scaffolding coming off another interwar gem – the amazingly cleaned up Curtin House. It is now a shining beacon on Swanston St, as part of works to renovate the iconic Rooftop Cinema.
Heading down to the river, a detour down Collins St takes us past the neo-gothic Trustees Executors and Agency Company Building, who’s chipped and tired sandstones have just been meticulously restored – hopefully inspiring neighbouring sandstone buildings in this significant streetscape to do the same.
Right at the end of Elizabeth St, a recent paint job has taken decades of soot off number 25, originally built for Mrs Cecilia Hordern in 1889 and tenanted out to mantelpiece importers. Though the building is still missing a lot of its Victorian detailing, which was chipped off decades ago, the clean-up is definitely a step in the right direction.
Our journey through the CBD ends as many do at Flinders Street Station, currently still covered in scaffolds but soon to be revealed in its original colour scheme after decades of neglect.
Let’s hope the months and years to come see many more scaffolds go up over neglected historic buildings to reveal heritage gems.