The street was likely named after T.Rowe, who was a real estate agent and Fitzroy councillor for ten years from 1864 and mayor in 1869. He also owned land on Rowe Street, being the SW corner block of Michael and Rowe Street (as highlighted on the image below). (North Fitzroy Conservation Study 1978, p.14).
Overtime, I will expand this out to discuss different elements of the people that owned large blocks of land in this area.
Mark Moss & Co
Mark Moss owned a large portion of North Fitzroy. In 1875 he acquired the whole block bounded by Rushall Crescent, Falconer, Michael and Rowe streets. He also owned nearly the whole of two blocks on either side of Kneen Street. (Fitzroy – Melbourne’s First Suburb, p.27).
“Moss was active in charitable matter and was a member of the council of the Old Colonists’ Association, whose village adjoined Moss’s allotments in North Fitzroy, and he was reported to have built one of the Jewish alms-houses, now the Montefiore Homes in St Kilda Road. At an early date he was associated with Barnett Isaacs, for they were joint owners of land in Sprint Street in 1869.” Issacs also owned land in North Fitzroy along with Henry Penketh Fergie an associate of Moss and later partner. “It seems probable that the Mark Moss & Co which bought so many of the North Fitzroy allotments was a partnership of Moss with Fergie and /or Isaacs” (Fitzroy – Melbourne’s First Suburb, p.27).
“Moss became increasingly involved in property dealings, though his only known purchase in Fitzroy, apart for the virgin allotments, was the Swan Hotel at a cost of 8,000 pounds. After the banks began to tighten their lending policies in 1888, Moss’s money lending activities resumed their former vigour and he became so confident as to build an enormous baronial house called Norwood in Brighton (demolished in 1957). By 1891, when it was ready for occupation, he was already feeling the effects of the recession and began trying to extricate himself from his commitments. By 1893 he was forced to assign his estate to a public accountant ‘for the benefit of his creditors’. Fergie’s estate was sequestrated after his death in 1897. Moss died in 1901.” (Fitzroy – Melbourne’s First Suburb, p.28).
The land owned by Moss & Co was sold off over the ten years from 1875-1885. I haven’t researched all of these yet, but those I have included (numbers represent today’s street numbering):
87-93 Rowe Street
This block is purchased in 1889 by E Cornish (then numbered 83-89 Rowe Street) and it seems there is a series of four single storey connected terrace houses, each with 5 rooms (Rate Books 1889). However the numbers changed and by 1890 it looks like the old structures may have been removed and that Cornish and Hollow (owner of 95-97 Rowe St (below)) may? have made an arrangement to rebuild these houses. The 1890 Rates Book show that all the houses were empty with the exception of John Laws (Clerk) in number 87 and William B Freeman (Draper) in number 93 and here was no one in the two houses owned by Hollow. The houses are not identical featuring slightly different polychrome brick design, iron work and with Hollow’s being set slightly forward and with their own party wall. But other than this the houses are very similar. It is only speculation (at this point), that perhaps Hollow built all of these.
95-109 Rowe Street
In 1884, this land was owned by A Windsor. This land was sold in 1885 to Eliza Read (numbers 95-97) and Joseph Hollow, a builder and contractor based in Richmond (numbers 103-109).
On 103-109, Joseph went immediately to work building a house for his wife and growing family at #103 on a large block of the land and beside these he built three cottage villas which were completed in 1885 and first rented in 1886.
Eliza eventually sells her land between 1887 and 1888 to Joseph Hollow (number 95-97).
As noted above, Hollow is likely to have built the two houses on the far right of the picture below. They have a similar patterned polychrome brickwork as 103 and those at 105-109, and the similar ironwork is used on these as is used on 105-109, as well as the patterns under the eaves being identical to 103 and 105-109. We understand that Hollow built the cottages ‘Neptune Terrace’ in Richmond during a similar period 1885-1890 (Central Richmond Heritage Gap Study, 2014, p.134-135) and the ironwork is identical between Neptune Terrace and these two cottages – probably suggesting that he liked this pattern, had excess of it, or an amazing co-incidence!
The photo above shows the lattice work between Neptune Street left and Rowe Street right. The tim underneath differs, but otherwise they appear very similar – though I will have to get up close and personal on these!