Thursday, December 3, 2009

Another piece of Melbourne Art Deco bites the dust...

Sad to see this warehouse on the corner of Brunswick St and Victoria Pde seems to be in the process of being demolished. Scaffolding went up on Monday and it is already half gone. The lovely spire is till there... for now.

It's a real shame to lose this, I can only imagine something pretty uninspiring will take its place. It had been left to get so run down but it still had a beauty about it, the peeling white and pink paint, the ripped posters, the rippled patterns down the side, the faded traces of its former functions, the great hulking, yet elegant tower.

I actually bought my first proper grown up bike from here when I was about 14. It also has historic significance as one of the old Cable Tramway Engine Houses. I found this photo of it by J.T. Collins in the State Library Picture catalogue from 1975. You can see some art deco style lettering that read 'Penfolds House Wines'.

John T. Collins, 1975. Image from the State Library Acc. No.:Accession No: H96.210/120

Some recent photos pre-scaffolding.


  1. Yes what a shame.

    The Art Deco & Modernism Society tried to save it but were unsuccessful. It did look a bit sad in it's later days with the tower a different colour to the rest of the building and the paint peeling but it could have been fantastic with a little bit of work.

  2. what a tragic waste :(

    Nasty developers don't have to tear down a building, to destroy it. They can let it sit in a neglected, uncared for way for a few years - nature and vandals will take care of the problem :(

  3. Think of what a stunning lot of apartments could have been fitted in there. What a waste. The developers must be quite happy to see Lonsdale House covered in graffiti.

  4. Agree with you all, it would have looked great with a bit of paint. Also it fitted so well with the general street scape of Brunswick St., which has a lot of older buildings that have been re-used to great success.

    Andrew - Agreed about apartments, I actually heard about 5 years ago someone was considering designing big warehouse apartments for them but it never went ahead, a real shame.

  5. Unfortunately developers are not motivated by style or heritage. Penfolds were invloved with several significant Art Deco buildings here in Sydney. The RM Williams building in George Street and the Ateco Machinery building in Tempe.

  6. It just seems like such a cliche - developers tear down buildings without a view for enormous potential. How disappointingly predictable...

    It's like the plot for an american movie, but in the movie the evil developer would be shown the error of his ways by curly red haired-orphan.

    How frustrating that we haven't moved on from this.

  7. Thanks for opening up my eyes to this. I've been past this building so I've only seen it from street level; I didn't even realise it had a spire!

    I reckon they should've restored the facade and turned the insides into a fancy pants apartment block. Surely that would've appeased the developers?

  8. I'd admired this building for years. Not knowing my way around Melbourne that well it was always my bookend for Brunswick Street. I used to tell friends that Brunswick Street was near where they saw the funky looking art deco tower. Should have been preserved as a landmark. I'd have been happy to donate my time to give it a coat of paint. I think its demolition is a disgrace, but frankly nothing suprises me in Melbourne anymore ... its another sign of a city rapidly selling its soul.

  9. thanks for your post. It is truly tragic to see this building go - I absolutely adored it. It is really making it hard to live in Melbourne seeing the ongoing destruction.


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