Former Public Records Office

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By Richard Liu

Designed by S.E Bindley of the Public Works Department and constructed in 1900, the public records office is a magnificent example of the French Second Empire architectural style, representing a city that aspired to be like the grandeur European cities. It was originally built to house official records, including: births, deaths and marriages, as well as legal records.

The main building has a rusticated basement and entranceway with Corinthian columns and pilasters. The distinctive Mansard style roof is capped with cast iron finials and elaborate zinc gryphons. The use of fireproofing construction in its floors represents an advance in fireproofing techniques.

Located in the heart of Melbourne, it was once one of the most prominent buildings of the streetscape. However, due to the inevitable skyward growth of the city’s building profile, this historically significant piece of architecture is now obscured by modern skyscrapers – Even at street level the building is largely hidden by trees.

A refurbishing project was undertaken in 1938 and it now functions as part of the Law School of the Victoria University of Technology.

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