What is significant? The shop and houses at 34-40 Nicholson Street, Essendon, are significant. They were built 1890-92 for James Taylor, an accountant who moved to Essendon in 1860 and worked for McCracken's Brewery for 30 years, as well as serving as a long-time member of the Essendon Council and three times mayor. He resided across the street as 'Kinneil' (No. 33). The corner shop, at No. 40, housed Mrs E Brown's bookshop until 1918, after which she ran a confectioner's shop there.
All of the buildings have polychrome brick walls and chimneys and slate roofs with diaper bands.
The shop and attached dwelling at Nos. 40-38 are gable-fronted, and the corner shop retains its timber-framed shop windows.
The villas at No. 34 ('Plassey') and No. 36 (believed to be 'Cliveden') are double-fronted with M-hip roofs. No. 36 has an ogee-profile verandah roof and cast-iron columns and frieze, as well as zig-zag pattern quoining. No. 34 has an unusual facade composition with two projecting gabled bays and a central recessed porch beneath the roofline. Its polychrome brickwork is hidden beneath overpainting.
Later alterations and additions are not significant.
How is it significant? The shop and houses are of local architectural and historical significance to the City of Moonee Valley.
Why is it significant? They are of architectural significance for the visual cohesion and fine detailing of the buildings. Details of note include the rectilinear corbelled chimneys with cream and red banding, the 'half-timbering' detail to the gables of the attached shop and dwelling at Nos. 40-38, the intact ogee-profile verandah and zig-zag quoining of No. 36, and the unusual configuration of the facade of No. 34. The shop at No. 40 is rare in the Moonee Valley context for its high level of intactness, particularly the retention of its timber-framed shop windows. (Criteria E & B)
The corner shop (No. 40) is historically significant as an intact late 19th-century neighbourhood corner store which is a tangible demonstration of a bygone aspect of pre-WWII life: Prior to widespread car ownership and home refrigeration, neighbourhood corner stores were an important amenity in residential areas, where day-to-day needs could be purchased. (Criterion A)
The buildings are also of historic interest for their association with James Taylor, a prominent resident of Essendon in the 19th century.