The Gatekeeper's Cottage is located at the University of Melbourne's main entrance on Grattan Street. The first gatekeeper's cottage was destroyed by fire in 1856. A new two room cottage was designed in 1860 by the University's architect Joseph Reed. It is not clear if these two rooms form part of the current building because in 1873 Reed prepared further designs for which a tender for 378 pounds by builder Andrew Paton was accepted. Another tender by R P Vincent for 434 pounds was accepted in 1875 for completion of the lodge. Therefore, two of the current five rooms may date to 1860 although the entire building could have been constructed between 1873 and 1875. Subsequent twentieth century alterations included filling in the verandah, an iron security door and an extension to the west side in 1962 to add a laundry, bathroom and porch. The entire building sits on bluestone fittings and is constructed of walls of solid straw-coloured brick laid in an English bond. The quoins, hood mouldings and details to the gables are of Stawell sandstone. The steeply pitched roofs are clad in slate.
How is it significant?
The Gatekeeper's Cottage is of historical and architectural significance to the State of Victoria.
Why is it significant
The Gatekeeper's Cottage is historically significant as one of the two earliest surviving buildings at the University. The other is the Old Quadrangle, whose location and principal axis determined the location of the main entrance and Gatekeeper's Cottage. The cottage is associated with the early planning and development of the University site. The entrance was designed to enhance the setting of the university on the hill to the north of the city, with the land opposite the gates being left as open space to accentuate the approach.
The Gatekeeper's Cottage is architecturally significant as the earliest brick building at the University. It set a precedent for the use of straw coloured bricks on campus, which were continually favoured for non-academic buildings until the 1880s. The cottage's picturesque gables, steeply pitched roofs and contrasting textures of brick and stone enhance the deliberately picturesque layout of the University grounds designed by Edward La Trobe Bateman in 1855 and developed in subsequent years.
The Gatekeeper's Cottage is architecturally significant as the earliest work on the University campus of the prominent architect Joseph Reed. Reed was architect to the University over a long period and designed several other significant buildings on campus including the old Wilson Hall, the old Medical School and the National Museum, of which only the National Museum survives in part.