The Bank of New South Wales at 375 Queen Street appears to date from around 1860. It was built by James Lawrence, a stonemason, as his own residence. It consists of a bluestone ground floor with sandstone first floor. It is likely that the mixed use of sandstone and basalt together with the apparent filling-in of previously larger window openings in the ground floor basalt section using sandstone indicates that the building was originally constructed as a single storey structure and extended at a later date. MMBW maps from 1895 indicate the building as a two storey one at that time. The building features sophisticated mouldings defining the ground floor window openings, which consist of one round arch together with four stilted segmental arches. The first floor window recesses replicate the ground floor window openings.
How is it significant?
The Bank of New South Wales is of historical and architectural significance to the State of Victoria.
Why is it significant?
The Bank of New South Wales is of historical significance as a very rare example of a mid-19th century house in the CBD. It serves as a reminder of the form and character of the city’s early development, when residential and commercial properties shared the city’s central space, indeed when many people worked from their homes. Its apparently staged construction reflects the usually limited means of most small-scale owner-builders, who often added to their original structures when their resources permitted.
The Bank of New South Wales is of architectural significance as a rare example of a mid-19th century residential building constructed by an owner-builder. The fine quality of the building is a testament to the skills of many 19th century tradesmen. The unusual combination of stone and unconventional use of motifs – ranging from Doric to Romanesque – give the building a distinctive architectural character. It has the simple character of early colonial building, before the effects of the gold rushes on Melbourne’s architecture were truly felt.