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Melbourne Heritage Restoration Fund

Gordon House was built in 1883 for George Coppin, theatrical entrepreneur, politician and philanthropist George Selth Coppin. Coppin was one of the fathers of Australian theatre. The building was conceived as subsidised accommodation for actors and was modelled on the Chelsea Model Lodging House in London. The courtyards were supposed to allow for maximisation of natural light and air. Renowned Melbourne architect William Pitt designed Gordon House as a three storey brick building with basement and internal courtyards. The symmetrical facade is eclectically derived from Gothic, Romanesque and Renaissance sources. Gordon House remained a lodging house until 1976.

Gordon House is of architectural and historical significance to the State of Victoria. Gordon House is architecturally significant as Victoria’s only nineteenth century philanthropic model lodging house complex. It is one of the more austere and unusual works of the architect William Pitt, designed using an eclectic mixture of Gothic, Romanesque and Renaissance styles. Gordon House is historically significant for its association with the philanthropy of the leading actor and theatrical entrepreneur, George Selth Coppin. Coppin was one of the leading entrepreneurs of Australian theatre before the arrival of JC Williamson. The property is included on the Victorian Heritage Register VHR443 and in the Heritage Overlay HO685.

In 1992 Gordon House was subdivided into individual apartments, with many being managed as serviced apartment by the Quest Group. The original signage of Gordon House was covered by Quest Signage. Quest Gordon House ceased operation in early 2020. Their signage was removed and uncovered the original two signs from when Gordon House was public housing. The grant application was to restore these signs to their original appearance. Following advice from the VHRF team, the applicants sought advice and a quote from Grimwade Conservation Services for conservation of the signage who provided a sound methodology for conservation of the signs as follows:

1. Research the history of the signs and search for old photographs depicting the original colour.
2. Take samples and undertake analysis of existing finishes and mortar.
3. Take detailed measurements of existing remnant lettering using
4. Make up moulds to suit based on measurements and cast new letters, including s/steel armature & cast-in pins, in mortar.
5. Install new, precast letters using pins to affix them to the building.
6. Repair losses to the materials substrate in situ using the mortar composition determined by analysis.
7. Repaint the sign using colour and binder informed by sample analysis.

In April 2021, the VHRF Committee of Management agreed to offer a grant of the full amount of $19,250 towards the sign restoration.

The conservation works have returned the signage to their original appearance using the original materials. The restored signs greatly improves the appearance of the entry of the building in the Little Bourke Street streetscape.

This is the corner building of one of three, two-storey stuccoed brick shops and residences constructed in 1885. The building at 492 is the largest and has a splayed corner. The parapets have arched entablatures above the deep cornice. The first floor facades have the paired arched windows with flat, pediments and sills, and the string-mould at the storey line. Vermiculated panels are applied to the pilasters, which divide the shops and in the spandrels of the window pairs. The building is contributory to the North Melbourne Heritage Overlay Precinct.

The building had been painted with multiple coats of thick paint with some areas having a textured finish indicating a skim coat of render has been applied over layers of paint. The original finish would have been rendered cement with ruled ashlar lines and a tinted wash over the render. The grant application was for removal of the paintwork and façade and parapet render repairs.

In November 2019, the VHRF Committee of Management agreed to offer a grant of $32,000 towards the façade works under the Melbourne Landmark and Community Building stream run in the 2020 financial year.

The paint removal works revealed the original stone colour lime wash finish as well as extensive painted signage advertising Velvet Soap and the former use of the building as a Grocer. In consultation with the VHRF Architect, the applicant has decided not to remove the painted signage as this is an important part of the history of the building and there are sections of the building showing the original tinted lime wash that are also important to retain. If the building were to be re-finished in a lime wash, the painted signage would need to be removed and it is considered that removal of the paint has in itself transformed the appearance of the building as viewed in the streetscape. As a result of the project owner/applicant has become very engaged with the conservation approach and is now a champion for using sound conservation methods on heritage buildings.

This mosaic mural is located on the east elevation of Hosie’s Hotel at the corner of Flinders Street and Elizabeth Street. The mural is by Richard Beck and was installed in 1955. The Hosie’s Hotel was completed in 1955 designed by Mussen, McKay and Potter in the Internationalist, modern style. The new Hotel had a glass fronted podium and a tower behind it. It retained an echo of the European Di Stijl style with its smooth finishes and the integration of art and architecture with the inclusion of Beck’s mural as a major feature of the building. The architects always planned to incorporate a mural into the Elizabeth Street facade of the building. Beck’s work is four storeys high and made of ceramic tile panels. The abstract image of 3 glasses (or pots) clinking together, was considered bold at the time and the colours, since faded, were bright and highly contrasted. The mural is of historic importance for its connection to the modernist movement in architecture and design in Melbourne. This modernism was important as the city of Melbourne attempted to present itself to the world as a modern, contemporary city at the time of the 1956 Olympic Games. The mural is of aesthetic significance as one of the few large scale abstract works on public display in Melbourne. It is also of importance for its association with Richard Beck an important Australian commercial graphic designer of the 1950s who worked on design projects for the 1956 Olympic Games in Melbourne. The mural is included on the Victorian Heritage Register H2094.

The VHRF funding application was for conservation of the mural, including removal of previous bad repairs, stabilisation of detaching tiles, regrouting of tiles and preparation of a photographic record of the mural.
In November 2019, the VHRF Committee awarded a grant of $55,000 towards the conservation of the Richard Beck mural. This was part of the City of Melbourne Landmark and Community Buildings funding stream run in the 2020 financial year.

Conservator Andrew Thorn undertook the conservation work between September and December 2021. The most impactful work undertaken was the careful removal of a white film that had formed over almost the entire mosaic. This film was removed using a poultice. The removal of the film has brought back the colour and vibrancy of the original mural. Other work involved removal of fixings for previous signage on the mural and repair of penetrations relating to the fixings. Crack and tile and mortar repairs were also undertaken in specific locations across the mural.
The transformation of the appearance of the mural as a result of the conservation work is remarkable and the process of conservation was meticulously undertaken and documented.

This property contains a bi-chrome brick Victorian residence with an early terracotta tiled verandah.
The proposed works for funding involved removal of the existing terracotta verandah floor tiles and relaying of a slab underneath and then re-laying of the tiles. The tiles are rare intact examples of an early type of verandah tiling. Some of the tiles required replacement but most of the tiles were intact. It was necessary to re-lay the substrate as it was uneven and causing the damage and deterioration of the remaining tiles.
In April 2022, the VHRF Committee of Management agreed to offer a grant of $3,000 towards restoration of the original terracotta verandah tiles on the condition that the existing tiles are re-laid and replacements only provided where absolutely necessary.
The project was completed in August 2022 with the original tiles in good condition, retained and re-laid and compatible replacement tiles placed at either end so that the patina of the tiled floor has been retained. The re-laid substrate also means this tile floor will survive for many more years into the future to continue to demonstrate this early tile paving type.

This property is one of a pair of two-storey, stuccoed brick terrace houses with two-level cast-iron verandahs. The ironwork and windows have been altered to No. 13 but No. 15 is intact in this regard.

In November 2018, the VHRF Committee of Management agreed to offer a grant of $6,000 to remove the aluminium window and reinstate a timber Victorian window to match the adjacent terrace at 15 Chapman Street. 

The works were completed in January 2020 and the reinstated Victorian window matches the adjacent terrace and greatly enhances the appearance of 13 Chapman Street.

35 Lothian Street, North Melbourne

This is a double fronted bi-chrome Victorian brick residence located close to the street frontage. The building features arched windows with cream brick quoins to the openings and corners, a cast iron palisade fence and a cast iron verandah. There was evidence of former tuckpointing to the front, which was in a visibly deteriorated condition. There was also visibly deteriorated mortar and some unsightly cement rich repairs that required removal and repointing.

In February 2015, the VHRF Committee of Management agreed to offer a grant of $6,500 towards the cost of re-tuckpointing the front façade of the property. The work was undertaken during June and July 2016. The works involved re-mortaring and tuck pointing the front elevation.

Given the building is close to the street tuck pointing of the façade has greatly improved the streetscape appearance of the property.


This is a two storey Victorian commercial building with a residence on the first floor. The shop front has been altered a number of times, however the upper storey façade and parapet is intact and demonstrates a high standard of rendered detailing. This shop is in a row of shops, all with impressive and intact upper storey facades and parapets. The original verandah to this building was reconstructed with assistance from the VHRF in 2018. This is a contributory property in the North and West Melbourne Heritage Precinct.

The proposed suite of works for the grant application involved restoration of the upper façade and parapet including paint removal, render repairs and re-pointing of brickwork. It was considered that removal of the paint from this façade and the parapet repairs would have a high impact on the streetscape and return the upper façade of this building to its original appearance.

In August 2021, the VHRF Committee of Management agreed to offer a grant of $20,000 towards façade conservation works including paint removal, render repairs and brick pointing.

Abode Restoration undertook the work and a works methodology was submitted prior to the works commencing to confirm that conservation processes would be used. This included painting he rendered areas in a mineral paint that protects the render but also allows it to breathe.

The works have greatly improved the contribution this building makes to the streetscape and returns it to an earlier appearance which highlights its original features. The upper façade has been returned to its former glory.

Ross House, 247 Flinders Lane, Melbourne

Ross House is the remaining section of an extensive six storey brick warehouse which extended from Flinders Street to Flinders Lane and which was erected in 1898-1900. Ross House, which was named Royston House in 1929 following its acquisition and conversion to offices by the State Electricity Commission of Victoria, has been maintained intact externally, although the basement and ground floor to the Manchester Lane elevation were reconstructed with reinforced concrete in the 1930s.

Ross House is architecturally significant as a transitional and highly unusual design incorporating ideas from the American Romanesque style developed by HH Richardson in America. The massiveness of the plinth, the huge Romanesque brick arches and the overhanging cornice is offset by the delicacy of the metal oriel windows and the caryatides. Ross House also demonstrates early design concerns for specific fire prevention measures in multi-storey buildings, such as the sprinkler system and fireproof doors. The recessing of the oriel windows was a fire prevention measure adopted from England.

In March 2014 the VHRF Committee of Management offered a grant of $20,000 to assist with façade works to Ross House, which consisted of repairs to northern and western facades including cleaning and repairing damaged sandstone, lead flashing to projecting cornices and detail work to ornamentation.

20 Wimble Street, Parkville

In June 2014, the VHRF Committee of Management agreed to offer a grant of $4,000 towards the cost of paint removal and tuckpointing of the front façade at this property. There was evidence that tuckpoining was intact under the paintwork.  The applicant reported that the tuckpointing under the paint was in good condition and the contractor therefore retained the original tuckpointing where possible and only replaced it in locations where it had deteriorated. This approach by the owner and contractor is to be commended. The paint removal has revealed the bi-colour brickwork, which has been further enhanced by the touching up of the tuckpointing.



99 Stanley Street, West Melbourne

This is one of a pair of simply designed single story terraces built circa 1877. There was evidence of former tuck pointing to the front, which was in a visibly deteriorated condition. In November 2015, the VHRF Committee of Management agreed to offer a grant of $11,000 towards the cost of brick repairs, sill reinstatement and re-tuckpointing of the front façade at this property.

The works have lifted the appearance of this building as viewed from the street. The front façade has been fully restored to its original appearance and condition.