FORMER NATIONAL MUTUAL LIFE ASSOCIATION BUILDING SOHE 2008
Statement of Significance
Last updated on - December 2, 1999
What is significant?
The National Mutual Life Association was established in 1869 starting anew era in the business of life assurance. The company's first officeswere in the Market Buildings on the corner of Collins and MarketStreets, Melbourne. In 1881 the company took its first steps towardshaving a building of its own when a small site on the corner of Collinsand Queen Streets was purchased and later the adjacent property with afrontage to Collins Street was also purchased. When the leases of theoffices in the new blocks had expired, a competition was held fordesigns of a proposed new building. Forty-three competition entries werereceived with the design of architectural firm Wright Reed and Beaver ofAdelaide selected. Tenders for the new building were called in August1890 and Robert Gamlin was selected as the contractor. The foundationstone of the building was laid 28 July 1891 and the building wascompleted in March 1893. This 1893 building comprises the Collins Streetfacade and three bays of the Queen Street facade. When an opportunityarose to purchase the property in Queen Street adjacent to the HeadOffice building it was gladly accepted. The remainder of the buildingwhich extends down Queens Street was erected in 1903 and designed in asimilar style to the earlier section The former NMLA building isconstructed in the Federation Gothic style with a heavily moulded facadeof beige freestone on a brick and concrete structure. The entry foyerhas been fitted out with marble details and the main foyer ceiling is anundecorated rib and panel vault. Inside the main chamber, the ceiling isfully ornamented and consists of a plaster beam and panel system onlarge freestanding Corinthian columns. The office spaces of the 1893section retain their plaster decoration and timber moulding around openings.
How is it significant?
The former National Mutual Life Association Building is of social,historical, aesthetic and architectural importance to the State of Victoria.
Why is it significant?
The former National Mutual Life Association Building is of aesthetic andarchitectural importance as a fine example of a Federation Gothic stylebuilding. The exterior facade contains many features distinctive to thestyle such as exuberant modelling, a turret, parapeted gables andmasonry mullions. It has interiors to match, with features such asexotic dados of grey marble, red marble pilasters and columns, and whitemarble stairs in the foyer. The interior also features an elaboratebanking chamber with a fully ornamented ceiling. The former NationalMutual Life Association Building is of aesthetic importance as it islocated diagonally opposite William Wardell's ES & A Bank, WilliamPitt's Melbourne Stock Exchange and Melbourne Safe Deposit Building, thebuilding completes this precinct's homage to the mercantile associationsthat became attached to multi-storey Gothic Revival structures of thelate 19th century.
The former National Mutual Life Association Building is of social andhistorical importance for its association with the establishment offinancial institutions in Victoria. The establishment of NMLA in 1869began a new era in Life Assurance in Victoria, with new policies andbenefits not offered before in Australia. The building is of historicalimportance for its representation of the boom period in Melbourne. Itwas constructed at the peak of the land boom and opened just before thefinancial crash of 1893.
The citation says that the first three bays of the Queen Street frontage are original, the remainder being added in the same style 10 years later. But do they really mean the Collins St frontage? That would make much more sense.