266-274 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy (Godfrey 1)

This impressive building at 266-274 Brunswick Street (on the south east corner of Victoria Street has the name “Godfrey 1” on the corner parapet. Almost opposite at 263 Brunswick Street is a 3-storey building with the name “Godfrey 2” on the parapet, part of a group of buildings, the others being 2-storied, that extended to no. 275 at Victoria Street.

Photo from Fitzroy History Society Newsletter, May 2018

There is more to research about this building. It was built in 1887 and the first residents in each of its buildings were:

Photo from Fitzroy History Society Newsletter, May 2018
  • 266 – Rich, C & Co Booksellers
  • 268 – Jones, Ben. Auctioneer
  • 270 – Hatch, Robert P. Impt.
  • 272 – Hagan, Peter
  • 274 – Brown, Edward, & Co. Furniture Warehouse.

George Godfrey

The buildings are named after the owner of the land George Godfrey, who was a solicitor and during the economic collapse in the 1890s was the leader of the investigators and liquidators of land boom companies, exposing some of the scandals (The Land Boomers, Michael Cannon).

The following account of George’s life was published in the Argus, 23 August 1920:

Mr. George Godfrey, who died on Saturday, was one of the oldest practising solicitors in Victoria. He was born in London in 1834, and after having studied for the law came to Australia in 1858 in the ship Herald, the passage taking 122 days. He was articled to the firm of Attenborough and Bellas, and was admitted to practise as a solicitor in 1865. He opened an office in Collins street, and later joined Mr. G. Bullen in partnership, the firm being known as Godfrey and Bullen. In 1900 he took his two sons into partnership, the new firm being Godfrey and Godfrey, and until the last two months Mr. Godfrey was actively engaged in business.
In 1874 Mr. Godfrey unsuccessfully contested the North Melbourne seat in the Legislative Assembly, but 21 years later he defeated Sir J. M. Davies for the Melbourne South seat in the Legislative Council, and retained it until the House was reconstituted in 1904. Three years later he stood again for Melbourne South, but was defeated.

Mr. Godfrey was a member of the Melbourne City Council for Lonsdale Ward from 1885 to 1891. He had been very closely associated with the committee of the Melbourne Hospital, having been a member of the committee since 1885, and hon. treasurer of the Institution for over 20 years. He was a director for many years of the Universal Building Society and a director of the Federal Mutual Insurance Company and the Melbourne General Motor-bus
Company. He was a member of the committee of the King Edward Memorial Fund.

He took a great interest in mining in past years, and was for many years a director of the Long Tunnel Extended Co. at Walhalla. He leaves a widow, who is a sister of Mr. D. Martin (late secretary for Agriculture) and Mr. I. Martin (late sheriff of Victoria), and three sons and three daughters.

On his death in 1920, his estate was valued at £36,000 real estate and £112,000 personal property. His real estate included “Land at Brunswick Street having a frontage of 245 feet on which are erected 11 brick two storied and three storied shops, £14,000”.

He was the original purchaser in 1875 of several blocks of land on Kneen Street and Rushall Crescent, North Fitzroy. In 1922 his wife erected and endowed two cottages at the Old Colonists’ Homes in Rushall Crescent, North Fitzroy in memory of her husband.

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