DAVID JONES STORE (FORMER BUCKLEY & NUNN)
294-312 BOURKE STREET and 285-295 LITTLE BOURKE STREET MELBOURNE, MELBOURNE CITY
Statement of Significance
What is significant?
The David Jones store on the north side of Bourke Street was built for the retail store Buckley & Nunn, the western Edwardian Baroque section in two stages as the Buckley & Nunn Emporium in 1911 and 1912, and the eastern Moderne style Buckley & Nunn Men's Store in 1933. Buckley & Nunn was established by Mars Buckley, an Irishman who had arrived in Melbourne in 1851 with goods to sell, and after spending several successful months on the goldfields set up a drapery store in a rented wooden building in Bourke Street in 1852. He took into partnership Crumpton Nunn, who returned to England to manage that end of the business. Expansion during the 1850s enabled Buckley to rent larger premises, which he soon purchased, and by the late 1850s he occupied a site extending back to Little Bourke Street. In 1891 Nunn died and Buckley sold the business, which became Buckley & Nunn Pty Ltd. Department stores boomed in the early twentieth century and the store was rebuilt and later extended in the latest architectural styles. In 1910-12 the Emporium was rebuilt by the builder Arthur Palmer to designs by the prominent architectural firm Bates Peebles & Smart. In 1925 the same architects, now known as Bates & Smart, added two floors to the 1911 half of the building. In 1933 the store was extended to the east, with the building of a new Men's Store, designed by Walter Osbert McCutcheon of the same architectural firm, now known as Bates Smart & McCutcheon. In 1934 it won the RVIA Street Architecture Award. In the same year Moderne style lifts designed by Bates Smart & McCutcheon were installed in the Emporium. The original shopfronts have been replaced, cantilevered verandahs added across the entire Bourke Street facade and the interiors have been continually altered and updated to suit changing needs. The entire site was sold to and refurbished by David Jones in 1982. David Jones is Australia's oldest department store company, having opened their first store in Sydney in 1838. In 1986 David Jones also purchased the former Coles Store (VHR H2154) on the south side of Bourke Street for use as their menswear store.
The Bourke Street elevation of the David Jones store consists of three main elements: the two sections (numbers 306-12 and numbers 298-304 Bourke Street) of the former Buckley & Nunn Emporium, four storey buildings in the Edwardian Baroque style, and the 1933 Moderne style former Buckley & Nunn Men's Wear store. The former Emporium has an Edwardian Baroque style facade with rusticated giant order columns, unusual lattice-effect balustrades with Art Nouveau detailing, and colourful mosaic panels which include the names Buckley & Nunn Limited and Victoria House. The two storeys added to the 1911 building, in a similar but less decorated style to the earlier building, destroyed the symmetry of the 1911-12 Emporium. Internally some of the original Art Deco style plaster ceiling decoration survives. The Men's Store is a four storey building with a Jazz Moderne facade, with a border of black terracotta faience framing the three levels of steel framed windows, with sunburst motifs and Staybrite steel chevrons, inset with coloured enamels, decorating the spandrels at each floor. Below the parapet three cast terracotta panels depict men's wear in sport, evening dress and everyday attire. The Art Deco style lift surrounds feature black marble with chromium detailing and the interiors have tinted mirrors and ornate Art Deco timber and metal work.
How is it significant?
The David Jones store is of architectural, historical and social significance to the State of Victoria.
Why is it significant?
The David Jones store, formerly Buckley & Nunn, is historically significant as the site of Melbourne's longest continuously operating retail establishment. It is historically significant for its association with two of Melbourne's most important retail stores: Buckley & Nunn and David Jones. Buckley & Nunn was Melbourne's oldest surviving retailer and David Jones Australia's oldest surviving retailer under the same name, having started trading in Sydney in 1838.
The David Jones store is architecturally significant for its Bourke Street facades, in two distinct styles, both of which are fine examples of their type. The former Emporium facade is a notable example of the Edwardian Baroque style and the adjacent men's store an outstanding example of the Jazz Moderne style. Both buildings are important works by Melbourne's oldest established architectural firm, known in 1911-12 as Bates Peebles & Smart, and in 1933 as Bates Smart & McCutcheon. Both buildings are significant elements in the streetscape of the Bourke Street Mall, the retail heart of Melbourne. The former men's store is significant as a demonstration of the increasing use of colour on the facades of city buildings in the 1920s and 1930s. Remnants of the plaster decoration in the interior are significant as extensive surviving examples of their kind, and reflect the elegance expected of department stores in the early twentieth century. The lifts are significant as one of only four known examples of inter-war lifts in Victoria, as rare survivors of inter-war interior design and one of the best examples of the Art Deco style in Melbourne.
The David Jones store, formerly Buckley & Nunn, is socially significant as an important focus for city shopping trips for many Victorians for over a century and half.
DAVID JONES STORE (FORMER BUCKLEY & NUNN) - History
While the earliest commercial activity and building in the new town of Melbourne occurred around the Pool and the wharves, west of Elizabeth Street, the economic functions of the central area of Melbourne began to develop their present pattern as early as the 1840s, with retailing activity beginning to concentrate on the streets between Swanston and Elizabeth Streets. During the 1850s it tended to shift even more from the west to the east of Elizabeth Street, with Collins Street being the most fashionable area (Lewis, Melbourne, pp 23, 45).
Between 1861 and 1891 Melbourne's population quadrupled, and the economy boomed. Major retailers at this time included the ironmongery giant James McEwan & Co, and Buckley's, The Leviathan and Samuel Mullens. 'The department store had not yet arrived, but the larger drapers were developing more extended retailing spaces than had been traditional. Buckley & Nunn, from a small drapery and haberdashery in 1852, had become a major retailer. Robertson & Moffatt's Little Bourke Street frontage was added to in 1883-4 to the design of William Salway (and survives in part of the rear sections of Myer and David Jones). It is about 28 metres wide, making the firms' frontage on this side of Little Bourke Street at that time a total of about 60 metres. (Lewis, p 64)
However the cost of property in the city encouraged traders to move out into the inner suburbs, and led to the building of large shops and department stores in Carlton, Collingwood, Fitzroy, Richmond and later Prahran. By the early twentieth century retailing of such goods as clothing and furniture had decentralized extensively to the great suburban shopping streets, such as Chapel Street, Smith Street, Sydney Road and Swan Street. 'The department store was the big element in city commerce', and although suburban department stores like Foy's, Read's and Ackman's were still thriving, 'the city store was the way of the future'. 'Buckley & Nunn, Ball & Welch, and George & George had already established themselves, but still principally as drapers rather than as department stores in the fullest sense.' (Lewis p 92)
The Edwardian period was an unequalled one for technical innovation in city building, with the large-scale use of reinforced concrete, particularly using the Monier system, whose works were supervised in Victoria by Monash & Anderson until John Monash acquired the Victorian rights and established its own company. (Lewis p 99). New building types were to appear: department stores, and soon motor showrooms and garages.
An increasing interest in classicism in the early twentieth century, superimposed in England upon a revival of the Baroque, led to the development of the Edwardian Baroque style, which had little impact in Melbourne before 1910 (Lewis p 103). The style had almost no impact in Melbourne until the Prime Minister's Offices were built in Treasury Place in 1911. The work of the Tompkins brothers, particularly Harry, led to the style becoming the standard for Melbourne commercial architecture until the 1930s. The brothers on the competition for the Centreway Arcade in Collins Street in 1911, and this, together with the Myer building, the new Commercial Travellers' Association Building of 1913, and then the Robert Denyer building of 1914 in Swanston Street represents a new era of the style. (Lewis p 104)
Department stores existed in England from the mid 1870s, but this term was used at first only in America, with the English stores tending to adopt the tag of 'emporium' or 'warehouse'. Many Australian department stores began as drapers or ironmongers, later expanding to cater for general household merchandise. With their elaborate facades, entertaining window displays, vast ranges of merchandise, good service and attention to comfort, these stores became household names and made shopping a popular entertainment. Before WWI they generally sought an elegant prosperous clientele, and the style of the shopfront was some indication of the class of customer expected. Classical styles were almost obligatory, with giant order columns and classical details (Morrison, English Shops and Shopping, p 166). After WWI there was an effort to appeal to a broader social spectrum.
At the start of the twentieth century the department store was entering its heyday. Chicago examples such as Marshall Field's (1900-7) and Schlesinger & Mayer (completed 1906, later Carson Pirie Scott) inspired the form of English stores such as Selfridge's and Harrod's.
The idea of separate men's stores attached to department stores and stocking a wide range of masculine products, probably originated in America, where Marshall Fields built a six-storey annexe for men in 1914. Several London department stores later copied this on a smaller scale.
Department store styles
In public buildings after 1900 there was an increasing interest in a revived grand classical 'English Renaissance' style, with 'a synthesis of conspicuously British forms from the period 1661-1740, now seen as English Baroque'. It is a grand classical non-domestic style characterised by an interest in Beaux Arts classicism with a revival of English Baroque. (Goad, A Guide to Melbourne Architecture, pp 81, 89). The Edwardian Baroque is a relatively rare style in Victoria, as the first two decades of the twentieth century during which it was popular were not particularly prosperous, and the style best suited grand public buildings, few of which were then being built. It was however popular for the department stores being constructed in the pre-WWI period, such as the Buckley & Nunn store and the nearby Leviathan store on the corner of Swanston Street, and along the booming commercial strip of Chapel Street, Prahran. The firms of Bates Peebles & Smart and the Tompkins brothers introduced the style to Melbourne's commercial buildings, while the Chief Architect for the Commonwealth, John Smith Murdoch, designed appropriately grand examples.
The 1930s saw the introduction of the Moderne style to Melbourne, often with coloured facades clad with terracotta tiles with glazed surfaces. It became the fashionable commercial style in the city.
The architects: Bates Peebles & Smart (1907-1922)
This firm has existed under various names since 1862, and has always been one of Melbourne's leading architecture practices, designing many of Victoria's most prominent buildings. It originated with Joseph Reed, an architect who arrived from England in July 1853, and after executing some important commissions, went into partnership with Frederick Barnes in 1862. In 1883 Anketell M. Henderson and F.J. Smart, former employees of Reed and Barnes who had left to set up their own practice, rejoined the firm as partners. In 1890 Henderson left the partnership which was joined in April by W.B. Tappin and continued under the name of Reed, Smart and Tappin. Reed died in 1890 and Tappin in 1905. F.J. Smart, now the head of the firm, died two years later and N.G. Peebles, head draughtsman, became a partner with C.P Smart (son of F.J.) under the style of Smart, Tappin and Peebles. E.A. Bates, who had been trained with the firm and entered into practice with R.G. Hyndman, rejoined Bates, Peebles and Smart to proceed with work on the new Reading Room of the Public Library. In 1922 Peebles died; and in 1936 Bates and Smart were joined by W.O. McCutcheon. The name of Bates, Smart and McCutcheon was retained through subsequent changes until 1995, when it became Bates Smart.
Major buildings designed by the practice as Bates Peebles & Smart are the Leviathan Clothing Store on the corner of Bourke and Swanston Streets (1912-13), the First Church of Christ Scientist in St Kilda Road (1920-2, VHR H1766), and the Conservatorium of Music (1909-10, VHR H925) at the University of Melbourne.
The architect Walter Osbert McCutcheon (1899-1981)
[adapted from Goad, Melbourne Architecture, p 249]
Born in Melbourne, McCutcheon was articled to Bates Peebles & Smart before completing his formal study at the University of Melbourne in 1927. In 1926 he had entered into partnership with his employers and the firm became Bates Smart & McCutcheon (BSM), which grew to become one of the largest practices in Australia and still exists as Bates Smart.
During the 1930s BSM prospered, winning the RVIA Street Architecture Award with their AMP Building (1929-31) and Buckley & Nunn's Men's Store, both designed by McCutcheon, who was at the same time Director of the School of Architecture at RMIT (1935-42). In the 1950s BSM became Australia's experts in high-rise office building design, with ICI House being one of his masterpieces, while Wilson Hall exemplified the firm's attention to craft.
Awarded the RAIA Gold Medal in 1965, McCutcheon was knighted in 1966.
Mars Buckley (1825?-1905)
[adapted from entry in ADB online edition]
The businessman Mars Buckley was born in County Cork, Ireland, and arrived in Victoria with his wife in 1851. After some months at the goldfields, and set up business in Bourke Street, in partnership with John Crumpton Nunn, who soon returned to England to manage that end of the business. Buckley opened his first store in rented premises in 1852, but was soon able to purchase a large site, and build his own premises. In 1859 he was employing twenty women and importing most of his goods. He built the mansion Beaulieu in Heyington Place, Toorak (now St Catherine's School) at great cost in 1863. In 1866 he helped to found the Commercial Bank of Australia. On Nunn's death in 1891 Buckley offered the business for sale in London, rejecting offers of £300,000 to finally sell to Robert Reid for more. He died in 1905 at Beaulieu.
HISTORY OF PLACE
The land on which the David Jones store is located was sold in Melbourne's second land sales in November 1836. In 1852 Buckley & Nunn's first store, a drapery, opened in a rented wooden building near the site of the present 306-312 Bourke Street (the western end of the present building). The expansion of the next few years enabled Buckley to rent larger premises, which he soon purchased, thus acquiring a Bourke Street frontage of 27 ft (8.2 m), soon extended to 162 ft (49 m) at 298-312 Bourke Street, the site of the later Buckley & Nunn Emporium, with a depth of 300 ft (91 m) back to Post Office Place.
By 1900 Buckley & Nunn claimed to have 'The Oldest-Established Drapery House in Victoria and the Most Fashionable resort for Shopping in Australia' (quoted in ADB entry for Mars Buckley). They were by then importers, drapers, milliners, dressmakers, tailors, mercers, carpet and furniture sellers and more. A 1906 plan shows that the Buckley & Nunn Emporium is an amalgam of approximately 11-13 separate buildings which were leased and eventually acquired by Buckley & Nunn.
Department stores expanded in the booming retail years of the early twentieth century, and in 1910-12 a new building program was undertaken, with buildings designed by Bates Peebles & Smart and constructed by Arthur Palmer. The new building gave Buckley & Nunn a new image, with this exuberant Edwardian Baroque masterpiece of bold rusticated giant order columns, ox-bow arches and mosaic panels, which paralleled the new American Beaux Arts look pursued in London at Selfridges and in emporia across the United States. The first part of the new Buckley & Nunn Emporium was built in 1911 at 306-312 Bourke Street (the western end of the present building). The eastern end of the Emporium (at no 298-304), was built in 1912. In 1925 the same architects, now known as Bates & Smart, designed two extra floors and alterations for no 306-312, modifying its formerly close relationship with the 1912 section to the east.
The Bourke Street department stores in the 1920s turned shopping into a popular leisure activity for women, with shoppers tempted by the elaborate window displays in the Bourke Street stores, the largest being Buckley & Nunn and Myer, next door to it.
The section of the store along Little Bourke Street between Staughton and Buckley Places occupies the former warehouse premises of Robertson & Moffatt, a drapery, clothiers and furnishing store. It had been designed by Crouch & Wilson, built in 1877 and was altered by Buckley's in the 1920s with a new stripped Classical facade presumably added at this time to the three storey building. The taller section east of Buckley Place was altered in 1922 and 1924, when its stripped Classical facade was also possibly added, and more recently to accommodate a bridge across Little Bourke Street to the homeware store.
In 1933 Buckley & Nunn extended further east along Bourke Street, and constructed a Jazz Moderne men's store next door, which was 'the raciest addition to Bourke Street's retail heart in the early 1930s' (Goad p 138). It reflected the popularity of the new stylised geometries that had come out of Paris at the 1925 Exposition des Arts Decoratifs, the place where the term 'Art Deco' was born. Sunburst motifs, chevron zig-zags and abstract classical forms frame a steel and glass window that passes over several storeys. In 1934 the Royal Victorian Institute of Architects awarded it its annual Street Architecture Medal.' (Goad, Melbourne Architecture, p 138) The jurors noted that it was 'a distinct departure from the traditional, following the modern trend in design and thought but in good taste and suitability of purpose'. The design was W O McCutcheon's (of Bates Smart & McCutcheon) contribution from his world tour and close behind the first adaptation of European Modern (Yule House) in Melbourne. It was constructed by E A Watts.
McCutcheon pointed to the rise of the automobile and consequent crucial importance of ground level show windows as the only link between the motorised shoppers and the merchandise. More glass and 100% brighter lights than the neighbouring were essential and the new Buckley's store had both. Glass, continuous across each floor level, was new, as was the terracotta picture frame which encased it. Griffin's window walls at Leonard House may have preceded Buckley's but its concrete lattice screen obscured any resemblance between it and the profusion of all-glass facades of the 1950s. The men's store went further. Its spandrels vibrated with the gleam of metal chevrons and three bejewelled murals echoed the mosaics of the earlier Buckley's premises. (Melbourne City Council Heritage Building identification Sheet, i-heritage)
The lifts and lift surrounds were designed by Bates Smart McCutcheon in 1934 in a Jazz Moderne style.
In 1982 the Buckley & Nunn stores were acquired and refurbished by David Jones Ltd, which continues to operate on the same site. David Jones is Australia's oldest surviving retailer under the same name, having started trading in Sydney in 1838.
Buckley & Nunn survives in Australian slang in the term 'Buckley's chance', a play on the name Buckley & Nunn (or none).
Kathryn Morrison, English Shops and Shopping. An Architectural History, London 2003.
Anthemion Consultancies, 'David Jones Stores, Bourke Street Melbourne. Conservation Management Plan', draft February 2008.
I-heritage data sheets
DAVID JONES STORE (FORMER BUCKLEY & NUNN) - Assessment Against Criteria
a. The historical importance, association with or relationship to Victoria's history of the place or object
The David Jones store is historically important as the site of what is probably the oldest continuously operating retail facility in Victoria. It operated from 1852 until 1982 as Buckley and Nunn, a Melbourne shopping institution, which has entered the Australian vernacular in the term 'you've got Buckley's', thought to be a play on Buckley and Nunn, or none, meaning no chance. David Jones, which has operated in Sydney since 1838, is Australia's oldest department store and possibly the oldest department store in the world still trading under its original name.
b. The importance of a place or object in demonstrating rarity or uniqueness
The Art Deco style lifts in the former Buckley & Nunn Emporium are rare survivors of inter-war interior design in Melbourne.
c. The place or object's potential to educate, illustrate or provide further scientific investigation in relation to Victoria's cultural heritage
d. The importance of a place or object in exhibiting the principal characteristics or the representative nature of a place or object as part of a class or type of places or objects
Both the former Emporium and the former Men's Store are notable examples of their respective styles: Edwardian Baroque and Jazz Moderne styles respectively. They demonstrate the design of the twentieth century department store, selling a wide variety of goods under one roof. They are notable examples of the work of what, under various names, has been one of Melbourne's most important architectural practices, then called Bates Peebles & Smart, Bates & Smart and Bates Smart & McCutcheon.
e. The importance of the place or object in exhibiting good design or aesthetic characteristics and/or in exhibiting a richness, diversity or unusual integration of features
The Emporium and the Men's store were designed by celebrated Melbourne architects and are notable examples of their respective architectural styles. The Men's Store received contemporary recognition and accolades, winning the 1934 RVIA Street Architecture Award as 'exemplary of the modern trend in design'.
f. The importance of the place or object in demonstrating or being associated with scientific or technical innovations or achievements
g. The importance of the place or object in demonstrating social or cultural associations
The store, first as Buckley & Nunn and then as David Jones, has been an important focus of trips to the city for generations of Victorians.
h. Any other matter which the Council deems relevant to the determination of cultural heritage significance
DAVID JONES STORE (FORMER BUCKLEY & NUNN) - Plaque Citation
This is the site of Melbourne's oldest continuously operating retail store. From 1852-1982 it was owned by Buckley & Nunn, which built the Baroque main store in 1911-12 and the Moderne men's store in 1933.
DAVID JONES STORE (FORMER BUCKLEY & NUNN) - Permit ExemptionsGeneral Conditions: 1. All exempted alterations are to be planned and carried out in a manner which prevents damage to the fabric of the registered place or object. General Conditions: 2. Should it become apparent during further inspection or the carrying out of works that original or previously hidden or inaccessible details of the place or object are revealed which relate to the significance of the place or object, then the exemption covering such works shall cease and Heritage Victoria shall be notified as soon as possible. General Conditions: 3. If there is a conservation policy and plan endorsed by the Executive Director, all works shall be in accordance with it. Note: The existence of a Conservation Management Plan or a Heritage Action Plan endorsed by the Executive Director, Heritage Victoria provides guidance for the management of the heritage values associated with the site. It may not be necessary to obtain a heritage permit for certain works specified in the management plan. General Conditions: 4. Nothing in this determination prevents the Executive Director from amending or rescinding all or any of the permit exemptions. General Conditions: 5. Nothing in this determination exempts owners or their agents from the responsibility to seek relevant planning or building permits from the responsible authorities where applicable. Minor Works : Note: Any Minor Works that in the opinion of the Executive Director will not adversely affect the heritage significance of the place may be exempt from the permit requirements of the Heritage Act. A person proposing to undertake minor works may submit a proposal to the Executive Director. If the Executive Director is satisfied that the proposed works will not adversely affect the heritage values of the site, the applicant may be exempted from the requirement to obtain a heritage permit. If an applicant is uncertain whether a heritage permit is required, it is recommended that the permits co-ordinator be contacted.
DAVID JONES STORE (FORMER BUCKLEY & NUNN) - Permit Exemption Policy
The purpose of the Permit Policy is to assist when considering or making decisions regarding works to the place. It is recommended that any proposed works be discussed with an officer of Heritage Victoria prior to them being undertaken or a permit is applied for. Discussing any proposed works will assist in answering any questions the owner may have and aid any decisions regarding works to the place. The Conservation Management Plan being prepared by Anthemion Consultancies will assist with the future management of the cultural significance of the place.
The significance of the place lies in its rarity and intactness as an early twentieth century department store, with fine facades in the Edwardian Baroque and Moderne styles, which has been in continuous use to the present day. All of the building is integral to the significance of the place and any alterations that impact on its significance are subject to permit application. The lift cars and surrounds are important features and must be retained. There may be remnants of the original decorative scheme surviving which are not currently visible, and where possible these should be retained.
Additions to the building are subject to permits. There may be scope to introduce new structures above the existing store, but these should be designed to be subordinate to the existing building and not dominate views of the building from Bourke Street. The existing shopfronts and verandahs on Bourke Street are not original and may be altered or replaced subject to permit.
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