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Lowther Hall Mansion Open House
Photograph: Supplied

Five highlights of Open House Melbourne

Explore these five fascinating buildings making their Open House debut

By Rebecca Russo

For its tenth year, Open House Melbourne’s program of free tours, talks and events continues to expand with the addition of 80 new buildings to explore. The most popular buildings are always the well-known heritage sites (for good reason: they’re incredible) but equally as eye-opening are some lesser-known sites that tell stories about the role that design has played in the evolution of our city. Below, we’ve highlighted five new buildings to hit up over the weekend of July 29 and 30.

Check out our listing on Open House Melbourne for more details on the program. 

Five new buildings to see in 2017

St Mary's House of Welcome Open House
Photograph: Patrick Rodriguez

1. St Mary’s House of Welcome

St Mary’s House of Welcome is a day centre that supports people experiencing socioeconomic disadvantage, homelessness and mental health issues. Located in Fitzroy, the original site was opened in 1960 by the Daughters of Charity. A redevelopment of the space was conducted in 2009 by Six Degrees Architects after a capital appeal. St Mary’s now features large dining and activity spaces along with the original building’s heritage-listed façade and stained-glass focus pieces.

Guided tours will run on Sunday from 10am to 4pm. 

Bayside City Council Chambers
Photograph: Supplied

2. Bayside City Council Chambers

Opened in 1961, this building was previously known as the Brighton Municipal Offices. The interior of the circular foyer (removed to make way for the Brighton Library in 1997), the council chamber and two circular meeting rooms were designed by Grant Featherston, and are intact examples of late 1950s interior design, and are directly influenced by American architect Frank Lloyd Wright. The Council Chambers have the same prominent curved and tapering ‘drum’ form as Wright’s Guggenheim Museum in New York.

Self-guided tours available all weekend. 

Lowther Hall Mansion Open House
Photograph: Supplied

3. Lowther Hall Mansion

Originally called Earlesbrae Hall and erected in 1890 for wealthy Melbourne brewer Collier McCracken, the Lowther Hall Mansion features impressive Corinthian colonnade and classical detail. The mansion is one of the few documented works of architects Lawson and Grey and is notable for its use of high-quality materials and finishes, as well as its elaborate and well-crafted interior spaces.

Self-guided tours available all weekend. 

Mandeville Hall
Photograph: Supplied

4. Mandeville Hall

Often describes as one of the most lavishly decorated 19th-century mansions in Melbourne, Mandeville Hall is probably one of the best examples of townhouses built for wealthy families in Toorak during the late 1870s. The building holds aesthetic significance for its interiors, which are a remarkable record of 19th-century interior decoration style, featuring stained glass and etched glass windows, marble floors and impressive gilded coffered ceilings.

Self-guided tours available all weekend. 

Essendon Incinerator
Photograph: Supplied

5. Essendon Incinerator

Opened in 1929, the Essendon Incinerator is an industry building designed by Walter Burley Griffin and wife Marion Mahony Griffin. The building is one of only 13 incinerators built by the Griffins between 1929 and 1938, and the only one in Victoria that stands today with most of its engineering intact. Shut down in 1942, the building now functions as an art gallery.

Self-guided and guided tours at 11am, 1pm and 3pm.

Continue the stickybeaking at some of these city parks

Carlton Gardens
Photograph: Roberto Seba

Where to get your nature fix in the city

Attractions Parks and gardens

Craving some closeness to Mother Nature? There's nothing like a romp through a park or an animal encounter to restore some balance. Next time you're sick of the sight of concrete, head straight to these green spots – all of which are either in the centre of the city or just outside it. 


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