21 Brunswick St, Fitzroy (Mononia)

This house was designed by Charles Laing and built in 1851 by Brown and Ramsden for John Mickle who was a squatter. “Brown and Ramsden (were) well known and important builders of the 1850’s.” “

Google image – August 2014 – I have chosen this image because the following two images tend to hide the building entirely!
Above two Google Images are 2008 and 2020 respectively

An analysis of the original building to the current building identifies that “the existing building is substantially intact apart from some surface remodelling. the windows have been defaced by coarse ancones below the hoods and cornice. The entrance porch has been altered, with a name panel created by lowering the entrance lintel. The engaged columns still survive with the original capital moulding visible in the porch interior. The fenestration is original, with evidence of the early glazing bars since removed on the front windows. The entrance lights have been reglazed. Internally there is little of note, apart from a marble fireplace to the front north room. The shutters to the front window have been removed. The original picket fence has subsequently been replaced by an impressive cash iron fence on a bluestone plinth. The gateposts are labelled ‘J Laughton & Co, Hotham Foundry, 73 & 75 Elizabeth Street, North Melbourne”. (South Fitzroy Conservation Study, 1979, p.106).

Mononia 21 Brunswick Street Fitzroy, 1861-1862, Photographer: Davies & Co. (Melbourne, Vic.) State Library.

“This house is of considerable architectural and historical importance. John Mickle was an early squatting gentleman who owned considerable property in the Westernport district. This house was the most prominent in Brunswick Street throughout the 1850’s and 1860’s and is an important surviving example of an early pre-gold rush mansion built for a wealthy resident of Fitzroy (then known as Collingwood). John Mickle did not occupy the property after 1858, but owned it until 1865, and it was occupied until 1900 by well-to-do professional men, a merchant, MLA, solicitor and a doctor.

The builders of this house, Brown and Ramsden, were early contractors of some importance. Samuel Ramsden operated quarries in Clifton Hill and Ramsden Street, Clifton Hill was named after him.

Restored to its original condition, this building would provide a unique example of a Melbourne residence designed by the prominent early Melbourne architect, Charles Laing. The austere classical treatment with simple renaissance hooded windows, and debased pediment resembles Laing’s treatment of Lunan House, Geelong, built in 1849-51 for J.F. Strachan. There are very few surviving houses by Charles Laing and this house provides an extremely important example” (South Fitzroy Conservation Study, 1979, p.106).

Photographed by Jordan Allan, c. 1970 – State Library

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