Completed in 1906, the Melbourne Mansions building at 91-101 Collins Street, Melbourne is thought to be the first block of residential flats within the city. It was a development funded by David Syme, the proprietor of The Age newspaper. The architects of the building, Inskip & Butler, based their design on flat developments in London and Sydney.
Melbourne Mansions contained approximately 30 flats on its upper levels. The flats were of various sizes, with some containing a servant’s room for wealthier residents. Tenants of the building could eat in the building’s dining room, or have their meals brought to their flats. Along the Collins Street frontage were consulting rooms for medical professionals on the ground floor, and on the upper levels were the balconies of flats.
The commercial value of land in the city had risen considerably by the mid-twentieth century, and this is believed to have led to the demise of Melbourne Mansions. The building was sold to a consortium that included CRA (Conzinc Riotinto of Australia), and was demolished in 1958. It was replaced by the 26-storey CRA Building, which, on its completion in 1962, was the tallest building in Melbourne. In turn it was demolished in 1988 to build 101 Collins Street.
Melbourne Mansion’s broad frontage, with its arcaded ground floor and the balconies on its upper levels, made it an imposing building in this block of Collins Street. Its demolition was described by journalist Keith Dunstan as breaking the rhythm of the Paris End of Collins Street.
Photograph: Harold Paynting Collection
State Library of Victoria Picture Collection.