“Jeremiah Ryan, an Irish farmer who made a tidy fortune supplying diggers with produce. In 1881 he began to invest the profits in real estate in Clifton Hill and Fitzroy North. Among other projects was a terrace of 12 shop-houses in Queens Parade, built in 1883-84; the central unit was surmounted by a raised pediment declaring it to be ‘Ryan’s Buildings/1884.’ Today it marks the empire of ‘the King of Clifton Hill.’ “(Nomination to Heritage Victoria Queens Parade Shopping Precinct).
Jeremiah Ryan (Farmer and Builder)
The following has been extracted from the Nomination to Heritage Victoria Queens Parade Shopping Precinct in 2019, p.21-22 and I believe was researched by Virginia Noonan: “The North Fitzroy side of Queens Parade between Delbridge and Michael Streets is dominated by the shops constituting Ryan’s Buildings. These originally ran from no. 304–326. No. 304–312 were built in 1883, and those
from nos. 314–326 in 1884. The shops numbered 304, 306, 324 and 326 were demolished in the second half of the twentieth century. Ryan’s Buildings were part of the extensive property holdings of Jeremiah Ryan, a gold rush colonist. Born in Ireland in 1830, he emigrated to Victoria in 1854. After stablishing a small farm at Bacchus Marsh he prospered
by selling provisions to miners at Ballarat and travellers on the road to the diggings. Ryan expanded the farm to 1200 acres and in 1880 won the prize awarded by Sir William Clarke for the best managed farm in Victoria. In 1881 Ryan sold the farm to the banker and landowner Henry ‘Money’ Miller, investing the proceeds of the sale, £18,000, in real estate in Clifton Hill and North Fitzroy. He purchased existing buildings as well as vacant land on which he constructed terraced shop-houses. All were
named after his family or in commemoration of his native Ireland. So extensive were his holdings that he was referred to in the press as ‘the king of Clifton Hill’… Ryan weathered the depression of the 1890s, mainly because his investments were made with his own, rather than borrowed money. When Ryan died in 1896 his properties were inherited by his son Dr. Timothy Bernard Ryan, who from 1887–1889 operated his medical practice from a brick house on the corner of Queens Parade and Michael Street owned by Mrs. Mary Goodrich. Timothy Ryan sold all the shops at auction in 1916. A small property behind the shops remained in the
Ryan family until 1937…
Ryan lived close to the properties he owned. Before retiring to Bacchus Marsh, where he still owned extensive property in the town, Ryan lived in various houses he owned in North Fitzroy in order to supervise the construction of further buildings. The close association of landlords and tenants was a common occurrence in the land boom years, and contributed to the sense of community which subsisted until the depression, when the properties of many landlords were foreclosed on by the banks, and many tenants could not afford the rent.“