By Kate Prinsley, Royal Historical Society of Victoria
The Australian Club stands at 98-110 William St, Melbourne, on the south east corner of Little Collins St, continuously occupying the site for more than a century.
The club was established in 1878 as clubrooms and a lodging house for businessmen, one of nine clubs founded in Melbourne during the 19th century.
The club was built in three stages and consists of four storeys and a basement and attic.
The first two stages, designed by architect and member Lloyd Tayler, were completed between 1879 and 1894.
Tayler was asked to leave the club in 1895 and architect J Charlesworth completed the construction.
The imposing four-storey building features a small portico at the front facing William St with a large balcony above it on the second storey.
The building is of rendered brick with a bluestone base and is renaissance style.
The photograph shows the upper parapet that hides a steeply pitched slate roof with lace iron work decorating the ridges.
Internally, the building features an entrance hall with mosaic floor and a five-metre wide marble staircase, several sumptuous banquet and dining rooms including one adorned with murals by Ellis Rowan, meeting and billiard rooms, a club bar and cellar, library and guest rooms.
The vast ground floor dining room measures approximately 30 metres long by 15 metres wide with stained-oak baroque fireplaces.
The building is regarded as the grandest and most intact Victorian era clubrooms in Australia and far more opulent than the Melbourne Club established much earlier.
The architectural grandeur of the building and its internal rooms reflects the wealth of the Victorian era and the social standing of the “gentlemen’s club” of merchants, bankers, lawyers and squatters.
This image and many others are currently on display at the RHSV as part of its Standing on the Corner exhibition.
The RHSV is the peak body for local history in Victoria.
Open Mon-Thurs. 10.00am – 4.00pm and Friday 10.00am – 3.00pm.
Further information can be found at www.historyvictoria.org.au
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