296 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy (Fitzroy Post Office)

The post office was designed by John Thomas Kelleher of the Public Works Department in 1882 (who was 38 years old with 20 years’ experience in the department) and was built by Beardall and Glencross in 1883.

“The builders were Beardall and Glencross who put in the lowest tender of 4,655 pounds making the all up cost of the post office 5,160 pounds.  The standard design was for rendered brick walls with bluestone footings, Baltic pine timber floors, Oregon structural timbers and a slate roof.  The post masters residence was mostly upstairs and postal business downstairs. Entry was through an arcade along Brunswick Street which is now glassed in…

The Fitzroy Post Office was one of the last to be built in the Italianate Style following Williamstown Customs House (1873), Clunes P. O. (1874), Warrnambool P. O. (1880), Benalla P. O. (1881), Port Fairy P. O. (1880) and Portland P. O. (1881).  The location of the Post Office is very typical.  It is on the fringe of the original main commercial centre of Brunswick Street on a corner site..” (Melbourne Times, article by Gordon Loader, 24 Jan 1979, p.4).

“An early photograph dated c1917 shows the post office as it was originally constructed.  An open loggia faced onto Brunswick Street, but this was infilled in 1925 and glazed with double hung windows.  At this time the entrance was relocated to the north and replaced an original window and a new counter was installed to satisfy the new arrangements.  In the late 1950’s the west arcade was reglazed, and the south porch and the laundry on the roof were added.” (South Fitzroy Conservation Study, 1979, p.115-116).

“This building is superbly executed and is substantially intact, retaining the original slate roof, chimneys and cast iron fencing.  It resembles the Warrnambool Post Office of 1880 in composition and general planning but the façade treatment to Fitzroy is more sophisticated; the ground floor has ruled masonry bands with a raised impost mould, and the upper floor windows have elegant Renaissance window hoods with delicately modelled sill blocks.  The Warrnambool post office has a plain unmodelled rendered façade apart from the string coursing dividing the floors.  The building, despite some alterations is an excellent post office building and possibly provides the best example of the recessed arcade plan (now glazed).  It is an important corner streetscape element to this significant commercial precinct.” (South Fitzroy Conservation Study, 1979, p.115-116).

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