The Former Police Station and Court House in Greville Street, Prahran, was erected c.1886 to a design by Public Works Department architect, Charles Gilchrist. The contractors were Furneau, Besley and Angel. The building is constructed of brick on a basalt plinth and is clad externally on its major facades with Barrabool sandstone and trimmed with Waurn Ponds limestone. The roof is clad with slate and has an iron balustrade railing to the ridge.
How is it significant?
The Former Police Station and Court House in Greville Street, Prahran is of architectural and historical significance to the State of Victoria.
Why is it significant?
The Former Police Station and Court House in Greville Street, Prahran is of architectural significance as an outstanding example of Gothic Revival public architecture and an important work of the prominent Public Works Department architect, Charles Gilchrist. The Gothic Revival style, with its connotations of religious virtue, was well suited to buildings that represented the institutions of law and order, and was a popular style in a late-19th century Melbourne keen to emphasise solidity and civilisation. The finely detailed and well-proportioned building is a rare combination of public utilities and, being situated on a dominant corner position, is of streetscape importance in the Prahran Town Hall precinct.
The Former Police Station and Court House in Greville Street, Prahran, is of historical significance as an illustration of the process of suburban consolidation in Melbourne in the late 19th-century. The Police Station and Court House, together with the Prahran Town Hall and other buildings, form a precinct of substantial 19th century public buildings, emphasising the extent to which Prahran( especially around Chapel Street and the Railway Station) had been consolidated as a prosperous and populous suburb. The Police Station and Court House are also a reminder that the 19th century city was far from being an idyllic, trouble-free place, and that the expansion of settlement everywhere needed to be accompanied by the expansion of the institutions of law and order.
Contextual History:History of Place:
Early in 1885 Henry Bastow, having previously been Chief Architect of the State Schools Division, became Senior Architect of the PWD. His appointment has been said to have opened up a period at the PWD called the ‘battle of architectural styles’. Under the stewardship of William Wardell the PWD had followed a determinedly restrained classical style. The Gothic style had been eschewed. Its reappearance at the Prahran Police Station and Court House may have been influenced by its famous use at the Law Courts in London by George Street, 1874-82. However the use of the Gothic remained relatively rare at the PWD during this period and was reserved generally for schools.