Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Town Hall Tuesday

Melbourne Town Hall was impressive but I think next on the list should be my own local council town hall in the City of Port Phillip, a divisive 1990s amalgamation of City of St Kilda, City of South Melbourne and City of Port Melbourne. All had town halls and I will feature the others in the future.

City of Port Phillip is a rich local council with a huge rate base and it shows in the services offered to the less fortunate, older people and support for the arts, along with a self sustainable public housing trust. Apart from the one suburb of Elwood, it has trams and buses and trains in all directions and you don't need a car to get about.

It is odd that it is called St Kilda City Hall, when we normally call them town halls. It has a large footprint at the corner of Carlisle Street and Brighton Road, with three tram routes passing by. The original building was finished in 1890 in the classic revival style, whatever that means.



As per the plaque, the portico was added in 1925.


In bronze for all to remember, the evil State Premier Jeff Kennett. The first mayor after democracy returned was the wonderful Art Deco aficionado  Liana Thompson. Also listed as a councillor is the zany Dick Gross, our current mayor.


I am unsure of the 1939 additions.




The ceiling of the portico. There is a modern addition at the rear of the town hall where most council administration happens.


I think this huge tree is a Moreton Bay Hill's Fig.


Don't worry. He is not really dead......well he could be, I suppose. The outlook to the very busy intersection of Brighton Road and Carlisle Street is broken by the trees.


I remember the fire and being extremely concerned that the town hall was lost.

31 comments:

  1. Very beautiful building! Thanks for sharing this. Have a great week Andrew!

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  2. Have you written about the amalgamation elsewhere on your blog, Andrew? I would be interested in a few more lines on this if you have time to offer it. Amalgamation has been a hot issue here in the past and I expect it will rear its head again as people tend to not think too deeply about it and focus only on "efficiencies" that somehow never end up happening. Has the end result justified the process there?

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    1. Jenny, I haven't. The amalgamations happened early to mid nineties, I think. Hels below offers her opinion. There are of course some economies of scale and City of Port Melbourne was quite small and pretty well controlled by the union movement. The South Melbourne area more middle class and the St Kilda area, edgy back then. It was perhaps an uneasy marriage between the three at the time but I don't think people worry too much now......except me in this forgotten little corner of the City of Port Phillip.

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    2. My husband did extensive research during the push for amalgamation in our area and could find not a single example (around the world) of those economies of scale actually coming to fruition. We keep wondering if there actually are any examples and they are just not publicized (although you'd think they would be touted). And Hels' comment about local government meaning local was very much our concern too. As councillors become distant from the citizens they become inaccessible and then unaccountable - we've seen it with larger amalgamations in our province. Although you mention that there seems to be no worries about it now, I wonder if at some point down the road things will revert to smaller separate councils again. Our education and healthcare systems here have gone from locally controlled to amalgamated and are swinging back to locally controlled again. Maybe every generation has to learn all over again :)

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    3. And yet again I was distracted and forgot to mention how beautiful this building is. We have nothing like this because of course we are such a small place.

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    4. Yes, the economies of scale aren't what were suggested at the time. I really can't see any change to how it is now in the future.

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  3. I can think of worse places to die.
    Your town hall is an impressive building. It looks to have stood the test of time moderately well too.

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    1. EC, part of it is used for dancing and there is an art gallery within. It is well maintained.

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  4. Beautiful old buildings...I hope they remain forever, and are well-maintained for posterity.

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    1. Lee, no reason why it can't go on forever as long as it is maintained.

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  5. Very impressive building. When I read your blog title, I assumed this would be about an actual meeting. Here in the USA, a town hall is a meeting of local citizens to thrash out some pressing decision, such as banning the keeping of chickens within city limits. OR it is a CNN show during primary season featuring a presidential candidate such as Elizabeth Warren fielding questions from an audience.

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    1. Cynthia, before my time, but I think we may once have had similar meetings. We elect councillors to vote on such matters as keeping chickens, but of course you can lobby them about matters.

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  6. City of Port Phillip has the loveliest and best located town hall in Melbourne, right near my home :) The gardens are lovely and the trams, as you said, are comprehensive.

    My parents were close friends with Sir Zelman and Lady Cowen.. great people, apparently.

    But the amalgamations were insane. Local government is supposed to be "local".

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    1. Hels, such a good setting. Were the Cowens St Kilda residents, somewhere near the corner of Barkley and Princes Street?

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    2. Hels, your final sentence is what we believe too - as soon as you get decision makers pushed further from the citizens you start getting lack of accountability for those decisions also.

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  7. Lovely building and beautiful green space. Yes, not a bad place to draw ones last breath. Although my desire would be at the ocean, when the grim reaper comes a calling!
    I will have to take a picture of our Town Hall. You will laugh at how small it is!

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    1. Maribeth, not all are this large or in such a setting, or nearly as nice. Yes, do take a photo of yours.

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  8. It's a beautiful building in beautiful grounds and the Portico is perfect. I like Porticos when they are correctly sized, I really dislike the modern idea of building houses (concrete blocks) with overly tall porticos leading to the front door. It looks like someone forgot it was a home being built and added a hotel entrance.

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    1. River, you are absolutely correct about those huge porticos.

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  9. You can't go wrong with a Palladian/Georgian style Town Hall. It lets you know where all the big decisions are made!

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    1. Cro, your architectural style descriptions are apt and while I don't really know Palladian, the name suits.

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  10. On the first glance I thought it was the "white house" lol ! Must be nice to walk in the park around.

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    1. I think it is the only town hall with some land and grass.

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  11. That is a magnificent building. It must have taken many men to build that. They were clever back then in their design, they sure did like them grand.

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    1. St Kilda was and still is an important area, now full of backpackers.

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  12. The comment about services is so true, the community gets what they pay for. I have lived in areas famous for low taxes, and the community services are terrible. I now live in area with high taxes, but the public services are strong.

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    1. Travel, remembering back to the days when Reagan was governor of California and cut taxes and everything started to fall apart.

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  13. That town hall and surrounding trees and lawn look magnificent.

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    1. Gigi, it is a good setting for a great building.

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  14. St Kilda City Hall is very grand Andrew, lovely gardens, beautifully shown here ✨

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Before you change something, find out why it is the way it is in the first place - unknown.