The head office of the State Savings Bank of Victoria was a Melbourne landmark, situated diagonally opposite the General Post Office (GPO) at the intersection of Bourke and Elizabeth streets. Built in stages between 1912 and 1935, the bank’s solid stone façade represented to the community the security of this institution; where the savings of its customers were guaranteed by the bank’s owner, the State Government of Victoria. Through a range of financial services that included mortgage lending, a school banking program, and an extensive network of branches found in almost every suburb and town in Victoria, the State Savings Bank of Victoria had a relationship with most Victorians at some stage in their lives.
The Elizabeth Street head office of the State Savings Bank of Victoria, fondly known by staff as ‘Lizzy’, stood as a silent witness to the day-by-day activity of a city evolving and modernising around it. The demolition of this building in 1975 was a significant loss to the architectural landscape of Melbourne, as well as to the historic and social fabric of the city. The destruction of the building, to redevelop the site with a new headquarters, was a precursor to the eventual demise of the State Savings Bank of Victoria itself, which was sold to the Commonwealth Bank in 1990.
Without a physical presence, the former head office of the State Savings Bank of Victoria is no longer able to speak for the institution it represented, the employees it housed, and the customers it served. In understanding this place, we must now rely upon the memory of people who had contact with it, who over time will, like this building, be gone. In this respect, the vast collection of photographs and architectural plans of this building, held by Public Record Office Victoria, not only prompts the memory of people that knew this place, but provides a valuable narrative to others on the history of this building and its importance in the lives of Victorians.
Read the complete article on the AROV website.
Source of photograph: State Savings Bank of Victoria Head Office,139 Elizabeth Street, Melbourne. PROV, VPRS 8935/P1 State Bank Victoria Archives – Photographic Collection, Unit 10, Item 1717.