50-54 Brunswick St, Fitzroy (Champion Hotel)

“This building was constructed in 1911 for the Victorian Insurance Company” (the builder and architect are unknown). “It replaced an earlier hotel constructed in 1873 which probably did not confirm to the strict standards of the Licensing Reduction Board. This Board was established in May 1907, with the task of closing hotels which did not confirm to the standards required by the Licensing Act of 1906-1907. Many hotels were demolished and re-built at this time.” (South Fitzroy Conservation Study, 1979, p.108).

Google image – Dec 2020

“The building is of a delightful flamboyant composition, employing red brick and cement render to achieve a decorative yet quite clumsy design of many mixed elements. At the corner is a dominating open-work pavilion tower which is quite unusual and rare building element. The use of the three centred arch is characteristic of the period, and there are many other Queen Anne motifs: art nouveau/Arabic foliated capitals, elevated pediment with lush plasterwork and intact lead lighting in the corner tower window.

Unfortunately the façade has been substantially modified. Only recently the cement waffle balustrading was replaced by inappropriate glazing, infilling the original loggia at the first floor level. The wider arches were infilled at an earlier date. The ground floor has been drastically altered with entrances and windows bricked in. An elaborate pedimented entrance survives on the west façade. Punctuating both elevations are unusual paired stilted engaged columns supported on capitals. Internally there is little of note.” (South Fitzroy Conservation Study, 1979, p.109).

Image held by Fitzroy Library. Jun 1975

“This building provides an important example of a grand and flamboyant Edwardian building. The adjoining shops (no. 94-100 Gertrude Street) read as part of the overall composition but were probably constructed at a different date. The shopfronts have been altered and verandahs removed.”(South Fitzroy Conservation Study, 1979, p.109).

“The period of construction and to a limited extent the style of the building can be compared with the Provincial Hotel, 123 Lydiard Street, North Ballarat. This was constructed in 1909 to the design of a local architect P.S. Richards. This building is substantially intact and employs similar detailing: the waffle balustrading and contrasting use of redbrick and cement dressings. The massing of the building and the positioning and detailing of the towers is however quite different. The Provincial Hotel provides a more intact example of a flamboyant Edwardian / Art Nouveau hotel building.

The Champion Hotel has been so drastically and insensitively defaced that it cannot be considered for addition to the Historic Buildings Register. It is of great significance as a large scale and ornate Edwardian building. Its scale, design (incorporating adjoining shops) and corner location make it an extremely important streetscape element. Restored to its original condition this would be an outstanding example of an Edwardian hotel building.” (South Fitzroy Conservation Study, 1979, p.109).

East Melbourne Conservation Study collection 1979 – sourced from Flickr – Graeme Butler
East Melbourne Conservation Study collection 1979 – sourced from Flickr – Graeme Butler

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