The Equitable Building (also known as the Colonial Mutual Life Building), was for many years after its completion in 1896 the benchmark of commercial architecture in Melbourne.
It was built for the Equitable Life Assurance Society of America and sold to CML in 1923.
Designed by American architect, Edward Raht, it was built on a lavish scale with imported marble, elaborate plasterwork and fine timbers.
The exterior was clad in granite from Philip Island and Harcourt near Bendigo.
High ceilings in the offices gave them beautiful proportions but meant that the building had far less floor space than other structures of comparable height.
In 1959 CML decided to replace it with a more space-efficient building.
Pieces of the Equitable Building are dotted around Melbourne. The foundation stone is in the basement of the new (1960) building on the site.
Fragments of the granite facade are displayed on the forecourt of the Royal Exhibition Building, near the Melbourne Museum.
The magnificent bronze statuary group, representing the “Equitable” protecting the “Family”, is in the gardens of the University of Melbourne, near the Baillieu Library.
The Royal Historical Society of Victoria is the peak body for local history in Victoria. It has a significant collection of library materials, photographs and manuscripts.
It holds a busy program of lectures, exhibitions and events. For further information: www.historyvictoria.org.au