117-119 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy

What to say about this corner location… once it was a stunning building and the initial location for the thriving business of Messrs. Davies and Steel who were drapers. Their business commenced here in the rather majestic building shown below and then by 1896 had expanded to incorporate 121-123 Brunswick Street as well (shown on the right in the Google image).

Google Image – November 2017
Former Davies, Christopher and Davies Drapers – Yarra Library ‘Past Port’

Messrs. Davies and Steel in 1896 had “frontage of 70 feet by 110 feet”. The building above was “built somewhat in the Italian Renaissance style, with magnificent plate glass windows which display the goods to advantage. This house is recognised as one of the oldest and best in the trade – the metropolis not excepted. It was founded in 1850 on limited lines, but it prospered and in 1852, the business was taken over by Messrs. Christopher and Davies and ever since it may be said to have remained in the hands of the family of the latter. About 30 persons are employed, the majority of whom are engaged in the tailoring department, which is a specialty. The ready made clothing is greatly diversified and noticeable, not only for the excellence of the materials, but the finished style of the workmanship. As merchant tailors the partners enjoy a high reputation, Mr. John Swain having charge of this department. The internal arrangement of the premises is admirable, the branches being in consecutive order so that confusion and inconvenience are minimised. Miss Donaldson looks after the dress making, Miss Boland, who presides over the millinery, can turn out a ‘duck of a bonnet’ with magical effect and promptness”. The Leader, 8 Feb 1896

Image from The Leader, 8 Feb 1896

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