I've kept this blog, on and off, since 2006. In 2015 I used it to chart daily encounters, images, thoughts and feelings about volcanic basalt/bluestone in Melbourne and Victoria, especially in the first part of the year. I plan to write a book provisionally titled Bluestone: An Emotional History, about human uses of and feelings for bluestone. But I am also working on quite a few other projects and a big grant application, especially now I am on research leave. I'm working mostly from home, then, for six months, and will need online sociability for company!

Thursday, March 12, 2015

My Year with Bluestone: Regency Melbourne plus brilliant idea.

One of the most striking pieces of domestic bluestone architecture is this long terrace of ten three-storey bluestone terraces in Nicholson St, opposite the Carlton Gardens and the Exhibition Building.

The building was commissioned by timber merchant and builder John Bryant in 1853, two years after the discovery of gold in Victoria. He lived here, and rented others of the houses to wealthy gold-rich tenants.

Here is an engraving by the architect John Gill (who also designed the Goldsborough building), published in the Illustrated Melbourne Post in 1862.


And a paragraph from the "on my doorstep" web page: 
Royal Terrace is of architectural significance as the largest early terrace building surviving in Melbourne, and is unrivalled amongst the early terraces for its elegance. The simple composition and austere decoration makes it a notable example, albeit a sober one, of the comparatively rare Regency style in Victoria. It has no comparison in terms of scale or quality of stonework to any other extant, early terrace building in the other major urban areas of Australia. It is remarkably intact, most notably the unified facade. The combination of stone and stucco is also particularly unusual. 
It's true that "Victorian" would be the dominant early style in Melbourne, because that's when the city was so prosperous in the 1880s and 1890s. I note the words "sober" and "austere" here, which are part of the regular pattern of bluestone descriptors. 

Brilliant note to self: build a wordcloud of adjectives used to describe bluestone buildings... Must investigate how best to do this.
 Walking or cycling or driving past, I've often felt the striped verandah was an unfortunate colour choice, but look at this picture from the late 1850s, from yet another useful blog: Radical Terrace. The stripey verandah was original: but look how wide Nicholson St appears here...

The Radical Terrace site also lists successive prices these houses have sold for, and shows interiors of one that's for sale. They look so similar from the outside, as if frozen in time. Maybe they're wildly inventively decorative inside: maybe they're incredibly run down. They always seem to me rather inscrutable.

 I'll add the remainder of my photos (from last week, on the way to my tax agent in Gertrude St).

Editorial note: I must admit I'm starting to find Blogger's textual interface rather unfriendly: spending too long faffing about trying to smooth font styles and sizes. I do try and make it easy to read but I also find this software rather resistant to editorial control. My apologies. Suppose it's too late to change...

No comments: