What is significant?
The ANZ Bank building at 376-392 Collins Street Melbourne, is an amalgamation of two buildings: the former ES&A 'Gothic' Bank, on the corner site, and the former Melbourne Stock Exchange, fronting Collins Street. While both these designs are specifically Gothic in style, their appearance is a demonstration of the two vastly contrasting Gothic revival developments in Melbourne during the 1880s and 1890s. The Gothic Bank was the first building to be constructed and is an example of the first Gothic style. It was designed by William Wardell, to fairly detailed specifications laid out by the General Manager, Sir George Verdon. The style is restrained externally, and internally graceful and ornate. It is secular Gothic, although Wardell had previously made a name for himself through church architecture. Goss & Mason were the contractors and Alexander Todd was appointed as Clerk of Works. The works began in 1883 and the building was opened in May 1887, a year late. The final cost was over £77,000, almost twice the budget. The entire ground floor was established as the banking chamber, and the first and second floors as a residence for the General Manager. Sir George Verdon moved into the residence in 1888 and remained there until his retirement. In 1934 the Lyceum Club leased these rooms and used them until 1957.
The former Stock Exchange was designed by the Melbourne architect William Pitt and was constructed in 1887. The style has been labelled Free Gothic and is far less restrained than the earlier building. The facade is extremely ornate and each level has been designed differently. Pitt was one of the best known executors of this new Gothic style in Melbourne, who at the time received criticism from more conservative designers. The total cost of the building, including the land, was £254,000. Overall the land purchase and building construction were a poor investment and in 1921 the Stock Exchange, due to financial difficulties, was forced to sell its property back to the ES&A Bank for only £136,500. The main trading floor for the Stock Exchange was on the ground level in a large vaulted chamber, known as the Cathedral Room. This room was designed with the reverence and grace of a church, an impression emphasised by the vaulted roof and the stained glass windows. In 1923 the bank renovated the site to combine the two buildings, thus enlarging the Banking Chamber, leasing the offices and running the Safe Deposit.
How is it significant?
The ANZ Bank at 376 - 392 Collins Street Melbourne is of architectural, historical and social significance to the State of Victoria.
Why is it significant?
The ANZ Bank is architecturally significant as the first ES&A Bank to be designed in the Gothic style that was to become a trademark for the banking corporation. It is also significant for the scale and ornate grandeur of both the interior and exterior, resulting in it being considered one of the finest buildings in Melbourne at the time of its construction. The Gothic Bank and former Stock Exchange are of architectural significance through their association with the prominent Melbourne architects William Wardell and William Pitt. The Verdon chambers within the Gothic Bank are architecturally significant for their extensive size and grandeur. The 1921 alterations to the bank are significant as they represent an interesting solution at the time in inner city expansion; that being renovation and interior redesign rather than rebuilding. The Cathedral Room within the Former Stock Exchange is architecturally significant as a largely original, and very ornate, example of a public business arena.
The ANZ Bank is historically significant as the banking headquarters of the ES&A Bank, positioned on a corner site within the centre of the banking precinct in Melbourne, which was the most important business centre at the time in Australia. This building is also significant for what it illustrates of the banking boom during the 1880s and the subsequent depression of the 1890s. The former stock exchange was built far beyond its means and was never able to recoup the financial outlay of the enormously expensive building. The former residence of the General Manager of the ES&A Bank, on the first and second floors of the Gothic Bank, is significant as the only intact example of an inner city banking residence from the 1880s in Melbourne.
The Gothic bank is socially significant as the site of the Lyceum Club rooms for 32 years.. The Lyceum Club was established in 1912 for women who had demonstrated their ability or commitment to the areas of philanthropy, arts, community service, education, medicine or science, writing or music.