Perspective rendering which bears a strong resemblance to 5 Willsmere Road Kew, WD/HOU/207

The Library has begun digitising some stunning architectural drawings which were donated in 2002 by the University of Melbourne, Faculty of Architecture, Building and Planning. The collection includes thousands of examples of public, residential and commercial architecture in Victoria. We’re currently digitising the drawings of houses.

A favourite is the Villa residence to be erected for James Allee Esq. Richmond [i.e. 48 Berry street East Melbourne], designed by architect William Pitt. Pitt is best known for Melbourne’s spectacular Venetian Gothic Rialto building (1890), and the Princess Theatre (1886).

Detail of coloured architectural drawings showing It is a two storey Victorian terrace house with pedimented parapet and cast iron verandah & balcony; also side elevations.

Visit Google Street View to find out what James Allee’s ‘Casa de Santiago’ building looks like today.

This 1894 design for a house in North Melbourne for Mr Cuming features two ‘earth closets’ and a dung heap. James Cuming lived in Yarraville where he ran a chemical, manure and bone dust manufacturing business; it’s not a surprise that a man in his line of work would make sure manure disposal services were well accounted for!

Detail of coloured architectural drawing featuring two earth closets, a dung pit, a stable and scullery.

Detail of Dwelling, Victoria St, North Melbourne for James Cuming, WD/HOU/206/1

Cuming probably constructed the North Melbourne house on a speculative basis, as he is not recorded living at this address. Research by our cataloguers using the City of Melbourne’s i-Heritage database has pinpointed the location of the house: 452 Victoria Street.

Brick residence at [4 Elmie Street] Hawthorn for H. Burgess Esq [detail],  WD/HOU/20/1

Want to find out more about researching houses and architecture in Victoria? Our guide to researching buildings and houses is here to help.

This article has 9 comments

  1. Fascinating buildings. Thanks State Library for digitsing these buildings from a by gone era.

  2. Brilliant idea!!!
    Thank you for sharing

  3. It is possible that the Mr James Cuming was the founder of the large superphospate and fertiliser business that became Cuming Smith at Yarraville, and I think the lonely, isolated house standing in the front of the lot on the east side of Whitehall St (in the Orica compound) may have been part of that business also.

  4. Wonderful information – should be shared with our school children.

  5. Fascinating thanks for the great initiative, are there any plans to capture the sculptures that were highlighted in some photos of the library celebrating 100 years of the dome. From memory there seemed there was a whole hall of sculptures & bas reliefs a digital record would certainly need less space. Thanks again for the great initiatives, we also really enjoyed the ST Gill exhibition

  6. Excellent work – ‘The Gables’ is still as grand as ever in Finch Street Malvern – now a reception venue –

    I have no connection other than having visited there a few times and living not far away in Malvern.


  7. My great great grandmother leased Casa de Santiago for many years until her death. She is listed on the registers. Her name was Esther Myers. Her daughter and son-in-law too over the lease after she passed away in 1897,

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