This is a key building in the historic Melrose Street precinct. It
is a picturesque shop recalling the Federation Arts and Crafts
movement, with art nouveau leadlights, fl oral stuccoed frieze,
and Tudoresque half timbering to the overhanging gable end
and fi nial at the apex. A central bay window is fl anked by fretted
balustrading to balconettes, whilst the brickwork is red with
corbelling to the parapet ends.

Well known architects, Sydney Smith and Ogg, accepted tenders
in 1902 for the erection of a shop in Melrose Street. In 1903,
Thomas Kevan, a newsagent, moved into the shop with a sevenroomed
dwelling above. By 1907, Kevan leased the property to
Ernest Soff a, also a newsagent.

An unusual, but important, feature is the intact shop front below
the verandah. It has a recessed doorway (an ingo) with tessellated
tiled fl oor, comprising an orange coloured chequerboard pattern
leading to an Arts and Crafts timber door. The large plate glass
windows are supported by very fi ne metal frames with lead
lighting above. The stall boards below the glass and side panels
are fi nished with glazed black tiles and a contrasting orange
chequerboard strip.



The Hobson Stores, owned by Walter and Annie Hobson, had a
grand opening on 29 June 1911, with a display of drapery, millinery,
and general outfi tting for ladies, gentlemen and children. It was
the most substantial store in the area at the time.

The Brighton Southern Cross reported at the time:


The most recent addition to the architecture of Sandringham is
fi ttingly both the largest and most handsome building in the street.
The proprietor of the ‘Hobson Stores’ has shown his confi dence
in the future of the district by erecting a substantial structure, and
proposes to carry new and heavy stocks in all drapery lines. Mr.
Hobson has had many years of experience in the management of
a large concern of a similar nature, so that the district makes a
distinct gain by this up-to-date addition to local shopping facilities.
The Hobson Stores will be opened on Thursday with a display of
drapery, millinery, and general outfi tting goods for ladies, gentlemen
and children, and a liberal supply of bargains in those departments
will be a further inducement to feminine patrons on opening day.
Other house furnishing departments will be added as soon as
preliminary arrangements for stocking are made. 24 June 1911

Architecturally, the building is an example of Federation Free
Style, which is seen in the symmetrical design of contrasting red
brick and unpainted roughcast stucco, pilasters and segmental
arched windows. Of particular distinction is the embellishment
of the central arched pediment, with Art Nouveau decoration
and writing style depicting the name of the building and original
owners HOBSON.



Architecturally, this pair of two storey shops and dwellings are
in a richly ornamented Federation Free Style. The buildings in
the Melrose Street precinct form a visual unit with the adjoining
shops to the east.

They are visible in the photo shown, which was taken when horse
and carts were the common form of transport.



In 1906, Thomas Sayle commenced building two shops with a
seven-roomed residence. The buildings were completed in 1907. By
1908, Sayle operated a chemist shop at No 31, and Alexander Irish
operated a confectionery shop at No 29. In 1910, Sayle continued
as owner of the properties and as operator of the chemist shop. No
29 was occupied by John Hutchinson, a stationer. C H Semmens
took over the chemist shop from Mr Sayle around 1939–41).

By 1947, Mr Colee operated a grocery shop at No 29 – see photo

In the 1990s, it was occupied by the RVIB Op Shop and
Sandringham Travel business. By this time the balcony had been
built in, a cantilever verandah installed, and the decorative cement
render elements had been painted white. Recently, beautiful
restoration works have returned the decorative elements to a
clean cement render grey, the balcony revealed, and a posted
verandah constructed.

Architecturally, it is a richly ornamented Federation Free Style
building in the Melrose Street precinct, and forms a visual unit with
the adjoining shops to the west. Note the delightful decorative
render within the pediment at the top.



The Victorian era shop was most likely built earlier than 1917, when
Mary Weeks owned a shop and four-roomed wood dwelling with
25’ frontage to Melrose Street north side. You can see a single
door on the right which was the entry to the residence.

By 1919, the Commercial Bank had purchased the property,
operating as a bank from the premises.

Cyril George, bank manager, resided there. In 1925, a new brick
bank and dwelling was erected there. Benjamin Barbour was the
bank manager and resident.

However, the existing building is designed in the Inter-War Free
Classical style by architects Carleton and Carleton, who called for
tenders for the erection of a new bank for the Commercial Bank of
Australia Ltd in Melrose Street in July 1935. The facade is dominated
by a deep cornice overhanging the two storey trabeated structure,
with frieze comprising a horizontal line of dentils supported by four
pilasters with plain capitals and bases. The high dark plinth imbues
the structure with an appearance of strength.

The premises were owner/occupied by the Commercial Bank of Australia
Ltd. The 1935 building later became known as the Westpac Bank.

Less than a year after it was opened, shots were fi red in a Bank
holdup in December 1936. When confronted by an armed bandit with
a revolver, the teller, Mr Ellis, dived under his counter and obtained his
pistol which he fired twice over the gunman’s head. The bank manager,
Mr Perry, also fired a warning shot. The robbery was foiled and the
gunman fl ed.