The cottages at 3-5 Macquarie Street are of regional, or metropolitan, significance as fine, relatively rare and substantially intact exemplars of the Gothic mode in timber cottages, often referred to as Carpenter Gothic or Victorian Rustic Gothic.
Macquarie Street has become essentially a service lane providing rear access to the busy retail district of Prahran. It is composed largely of industrial buildings and car parking areas and a handful of early cottages.
3 and 5 Macquarie Street is a pair of these modest timber cottages, clad in timber block work with roofs of corrugated metal. The simple interior arrangement is expressed in the single door and window of the narrow front facade. The properties are set back less than a metre from the footpath, allowing for only a narrow strip of garden between the veranda and the low cyclone fence. The cottages draw broadly upon Gothic sources, with facades distinguished by verandas with square posts and unusual timber valences; by ornate bargeboards and finials to the gable ends; and by tall chimneys in decorative polychrome brickwork (all of which are possibly the work of the first owner, carpenter, William Deane). This level of ornament was not unusual amongst workers cottages in the nineteenth century, but this level of intact decorative timber work is increasingly rare.
The cottages appear to be in fair but substantially original condition, with the exception of their concrete veranda floors, wire screen doors and possibly, fenestration.