67 Spencer Street


67 Spencer Street

67 Spencer Street is the former head offices of the Victorian Railways, located on Spencer Street, Melbourne, Australia. Today it is used as a hotel and apartments. It is of Renaissance-Italianate style and is listed on the Victorian Heritage Register.

History

The building was opened in 1893 and was one of the larger buildings in the city, reflecting the 'boom' conditions of the period. The Victorian Railway Commissioners wanted a building that would provided a central location for various branch offices in the area. A contract was signed in September 1888, with £25,000 allocated in the Loan Act of 1887 for the building, with subsequent allocations taking the total to £132,000 including furnishings. Originally to be built of bluestone, due to high cost brickwork with stucco was used instead.cite journal | year = 1993 | month = February | title = 67 Spencer Street | author = Geoff Peterson | journal = Newsrail | publisher = Australian Railway Historical Society (Victorian Division) | pages = pages 44-45 ]

The building is of a shallow U shape, with a convert|420|ft|m frontage onto Spencer Street. The siting was such that the building would not interfere with the Flinders Street Viaduct, which was yet to be built. The building is symmetrical in plan, with the Spencer Street facade divided into five bays. The central bay projects slightly, incorporating the main entrance with heavy banded rustication, [cite web
url=http://www.heritage.gov.au/cgi-bin/ahpi/record.pl?VICH699
work=Victorian Heritage Register
title=Former Victorian Railways Headquarters (ref H699)
publisher=www.heritage.gov.au
accessdate=2008-07-20
] and led into the main staircase, 50 ft by 60 ft (15.25 m by 18.28 m) and lit by three windows with the 'VR' insignia. Secondary entrances at each end of the building, and a central corridor ran the whole length of the building and wings. Originally consisting of a basement and three floors, the fourth floor added in 1912 and the attic in 1922. A number of statures graced the top of the building, but were removed in 1930 when they began to break up and were considered a danger to the passing public. By 1925 the VR magazine reported that the building was overcrowded, with some departments moved to the Newport Workshops.

By the 1980s the Victorian Railways had broken up into the Ministry of Transport, the Metropolitan Transit Authority, and the State Transport Authority. In 1985 Transport House at 589 Collins Street was acquired and 67 Spencer Street was vacated. The Victorian Government sold the building by tender in 1988 for $5.2 million, to a development company and a Japanese financier who proposed a 217 room hotel and 158 car parks, but the deal fell though when the Japanese financier pulled out.

In 1989 a buyer contracted to buy the building for $7.9 million, but again the contract fell though. The mortgage owner put the building to auction in September 1990 but no sale was made. It was not until 1998 that the present hotel and apartment complex was developed. [cite web
url=http://www.myhome.com.au/buy/vic/melbourne-city/melbourne/apartment/p000o0az/
title=626/67 Spencer Street | Melbourne Real Estate
publisher=www.myhome.com.au
accessdate=2008-07-20
] As well as restoring the building, a swimming pool and multilevel carpark was built at the back.

References


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