Old Meets New
t’s the eclectic mix of architectural styles, all sitting comfortably but sometimes surprisingly together, that gives the Cremorne and Richmond precinct its characteristic look.
When you set out from the stylish elegance of 381 Cremorne boutique accommodation to explore or shop or maybe pick up a coffee, every street and laneway offers an interesting blend. You don’t have to be a connoisseur of architecture to enjoy what the precinct has to offer.
Many of the grander premises were built at the end of the 19th century in the Marvelous Melbourne years, when goldrush money came flooding in. Nowadays, you’ll find many of the hotels, banks and utility buildings have been re-adapted to become homeware shops, cafes, or speciality businesses.
To see the most talked about example of adaptive re-use in Richmond, cut through into Church Street to Abinger Street, which runs parallel with Swan Street almost up to the Bridge Street intersection. You’ll see Malthouse Apartments, also known as The Silos, rising above the terraces as you head up Abinger Street.
The boat-like apartment building, designed by the renowned architect Nonda Katsalidis, is built around industrial silos, a masterpiece of adaptation, everyone agrees. What they argue about is whether such a striking contemporary building fits into the design of the area.
You can make up your own mind, but as you contemplate the jutting prows of the apartments’ balconies, you’ll notice there’s a great deal of very modern living going on around The Silos. It might have looked incongruous in 1996, when it was built but now, stylish change is definitely fashionable.
As you walk back along Church Street, you will see a very grandiose two-storey building at 293, which was built in 1888 by the son of the famous Peter Lalor, who led the Eureka Stockade and became then one of Australia’s most famous 19th century politicians. It’s very ornate, with its heavily ornamented columns and arches (and there’s a story that Lalor, who died there, haunts the place).
For something more modest, when you cross Swan Street and the railway line, turn left into Shamrock Street then down James Street, where you’ll find two of the oldest homes in Victoria, bluestone cottages side by side at 13 and 15, which are National Trust classified.
If all that history has made you thirsty and hungry, hop back on to Church Street where your only concern will be which of the many cafés and restaurants to choose. As Lalor would say, Eureka!