Architectural Gems in the heart of East Melbourne

27 April 2023
by Abercrombys in partnership with Stephen Crafti

Produced by Abercrombys in partnership with Stephen Crafti

George Street, East Melbourne, is lined with fine period homes – from the mid-1850s through to the early 20th century. You will also see a few contemporary buildings, including the East Melbourne library and contemporary apartments designed by architects Powell & Glenn – the latter being simple and elegant like the heritage-listed precinct.

While wide and leafy George Street connects to the Treasury Gardens and is a short stroll from the centre of town, it provides an exclusive address for those fortunate to live here, both now and in the past. Rae Ganim, who made a name a name for herself in fashion from the late 1970s, lived at 209 George Street. Featured in numerous magazines, she resided here with her late husband Anthony Ganim and their three young children from 1980 until 1987 – moving to a larger house in Hotham Street around the corner. Those who have a long memory, such as this writer, recall the eu de Nil (a faded green colour) that featured on the two-storey Victorian home’s façade, along with its formal parterre-style garden filled with camellias. Now a yellow rosed vine called ‘Mermaid’ threads it way through the wrought iron balustrade. “Our house was the last of the boarding houses in the street. We still had the occasional gentleman asking for lodgings a few years after we moved in,” says, Rae, who also recalls the pleasure of walking through the Treasury Gardens to the city as well as regularly visiting the library and the art deco-style post office at number 24 George Street, now converted into a luxurious home. “It was such a safe environment to raise children and we all felt like we were in a world of our own,” adds Rae, who also enjoyed exploring the architecture.

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While many suburbs have undergone significant change since the 1980s, George Street has moved on in a sensitive and thoughtful manner, with new contemporary houses creating a ‘dialogue’ with the past. For those strolling along George Street, take the time to look at number 24, formerly the post office – now complete with decorative iron gates and screens. Bradoc House, at numbers 32 to 38, would have been built at approximately the same time. Featuring an impressive tower and tiered brick entrance that’s elevated above the street, these Spanish Mission-style apartments are highly coveted today. One house that comes with an illustrious history can be found at number 49 – a two-storey Victorian home with decorative lacework on its first-floor terrace. It was home to Robert Russell, Melbourne’s first surveyor, who is also credited with designing St James Old Cathedral, now located in King Street in the city. There’s also a lane named after Russell to the rear of the much-loved corner café (corner of Simpson Street). Those with an eye for detail will appreciate the similar treatments applied to the late Victorian/early Edwardian homes that extend from 76 to 86 George Street. Sharing similar pitched slate roofs, the timber fretwork framing the terraces are virtually identical. And while number 92 is a contemporary house, its steel-battened framed windows echo the balconies of the nearby terraces.

Those with a penchant for Paris will enjoy seeing Lisieux House located at number 100 George Street. The entrance to these 1920s apartments is via a quaint porte-cochere that’s framed by ionic columns. And if you enjoy classical music as well as period architecture, you will find ‘Mozart’ at number 105, a grand Victorian terrace that borders a fine Jazz Moderne-style apartment built in the late 1930s. George Street also includes a number of three-level Victorian terraces (at numbers 182, 184 and 186), two of which feature sumptuous carved timber balustrades. And to see a truly palatial abode, linger just for a moment at the impressive wrought iron gate at number 188.

Since this writer lingered along all of street of George Street, from Punt Road to Clarendon Street, it was an opportune time to revisit the Ganim’s former home. It has now been painted a soft cream colour and the embroidered shutters have been replaced by lace curtains. “We purchased the house from the Ganims in 1987 and have remained here since,” says Anne, the current owner, who still loves living here decades later. “You can easily walk to town and, at my age, I’m not so keen on driving as much as I used to. And of course, we have the Treasury Gardens just moments away.”


View our latest listing on George Street here.


Produced by Abercrombys in partnership with Stephen Crafti