What is significant? ANZAC House is a brick and reinforced concrete building with a facade of Hawkesbury River Stone. It was designed by Stanley Parkes, principal of the firm Oakley and Parkes, and built in 1938 for the Victorian Branch of the Returned Soldiers and Sailors Imperial League of Australia (later known as the RSL) to provide accommodation for administrative functions, including welfare assistance; and for associated bureau activities and groups, such as Returned Nurses, Father's Association, and the women's auxiliaries. It also provides tenantable office space. The building consists of four storeys, a basement and caretaker's residence on the roof. A notable feature of the front elevation is a carv ed symbolic sculpture by Orlando Dutton representing a man holding high the Lamp of Honour with his heel crushing the serpent of Evil.
How is it significant?
ANZAC House is of architectural and historical significance to the State of Victoria.
Why is it significant? ANZAC House is of architectural significance as a finely detailed example of the 20th century Georgian revival which manages to blend a muted modernism with sympathy to the older styles characteristic of the buildings at the eastern end of Collins Street. The facade is a restrained exercise in modern classicism, complementing the surrounding buildings, which date from between 1872 and 1928. Parkes was a prominent proponent of the "moderne style" in Melbourne, but was keen to ensure that his building was in harmony with the Collins Street streetscape. The interiors, particularly the entrance vestibule and stairwell, which feature highly polished stone, metal and glass surfaces, are more recognisably modern than the revivalist facade. The restrained and dignified building, together with its prestigious address, reflects the prominent place occupied by the RSL in Australian society.
ANZAC House is of architectural significance as a fine example of the work of the important architectural firm Oakley and Parkes. Oakley and Parkes were innovators in the moderne style, with their Yule House (1932) in Little Collins Street thought to be Victoria's, and even Australia's, first example of a moderne-style commercial building. Their Kodak House (1934-35) in Collins Street may have been the first in the city to employ stainless steel in the facade. Although less innovative, ANZAC House demonstrates the ability of Oakley and Parkes to adapt the moderne style to a sensitive streetscape environment.
ANZAC House is of historical significance as the headquarters of the Victorian Branch of the RSL since 1938. Its prominent siting reflects the RSL's ongoing social welfare role and important contribution to Australian cultural life. The large collection of photographs, historical records and memorabilia held at the site, and the RSL's continuing occupation of the building, contribute to this significance. As a monument itself, Anzac House represents the important role played by the RSL in the 1920s and 1930s in its contribution to the physical landscape of memorialisation in the wake of the Great War, for example through the erection of the Shrine of Remembrance (1934), and the numerous RSL memorial halls and war memorials erected in the State's cities and country towns.