South Melbourne Heritage Recognition Program

Great Iron Store

The Great Iron Store, erected in Cecil Street in 1853, was the first meeting place for the residents of Emerald Hill. It was here that a public meeting of Emerald Hill residents voted to separate Emerald Hill from the City of Melbourne in 1855.  The Mechanics Institute became the new public meeting place after it was built in 1857.


Address: 129 Cecil Street, South Melbourne

Mechanics' Institute

Built in 1857 and designed by architects Knight and Kerr, the Mechanics' Institute provided space for Emerald Hill's first Free Library and public, municipal and political gatherings. It was sold in 1881 and in 1884 a new façade was erected. Renamed Mayville Hall, it was used for dances from 1905. It was then occupied by the Italian Club Cavour from 1928 to 1980.

Address: 170-172 Cecil Street, South Melbourne

South Melbourne College

South Melbourne College, an early co-educational establishment, moved to this site in 1905. It had a reputation for academic excellence, especially in the education of girls who competed on equal terms with the boys. Notable author Katherine Susannah Prichard was one of the school's students. The college closed in 1916 and the building was demolished in 1933, leaving the name 'College Place' as its only trace.

Address: 76 Kerferd Road, South Melbourne

Park Towers

When this thirty-storey building was completed for the Housing Commission of Victoria in 1968, it was the tallest block of prefabricated flats ever built in Australia. Four streets and 83 buildings were demolished to make way for the development, part of the slum clearance and public housing program which had begun before WWII. Many of the demolished wooden houses had been built in the 1850s.

Address: 332 Park Street, South Melbourne

James Service's House

The 1854 to 1862 home of James Service, first Chairman of the municipality of Emerald Hill and twice Premier of Victoria (1880 and 1883-1886). He initiated the first successful sustained campaign for a federal union of Australian colonies. During his political career Service declined a knighthood. Born in Scotland in 1823, he arrived in Melbourne in 1853, becoming a successful merchant and shipowner. He died at St Kilda in 1899.

Address: 337 Dorcas Street, South Melbourne.

To read more about this site, download James Service's House article


James Service's residence, 1855. Port Phillip City Collection

Temperance Hall

The Emerald Hill Total Abstinence Society built a hall on this site in 1863 to promote abstinence from alcohol. Regular meetings and lectures were held by local community groups and the hall was also used for dances, concerts and theatrical performances. The current building was constructed in 1888. The Anthill Theatre Company transformed the hall in the 1980s. The building continues to be used by performing groups to this day.

Temperance Hall - further information

Address: 199 Napier Street, South Melbourne

Buckhurst Street

Buckhurst Street was once a thriving community in the area known as Montague. It was home to many working-class families living in small cottages. By 1900, Montague had more than 1000 households. In 1954 there were 130 children living on Buckhurst Street. From the 1960s, however, this streetscape and the area of Montague was irrevocably changed as industry moved in, houses were torn down and families moved away. A new community is now making its home here.

Buckhurst Street - further information.pdf

Address: Buckhurst Street (corner George Street), South Melbourne (Montague)


Buckhurst Street, 1930. Port Phillip City Collection sm0814

Top of page Photograph of the Great Iron Store, c. 1880 when it was owned by G. Alston, draper. PPCC sm0001



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