South Melbourne Town Hall

South Melbourne Town Hall

South Melbourne Town Hall, originally known as Emerald Hill Town Hall until the name of the municipality was changed in 1883, was designed by Charles Webb to house the Emerald Hill Town Council, Public Hall, Mechanics Institute and Library, Post and Telegraph Department, Police Department and Courthouse and Fire Brigade. It was built by Gillon and Treeby and officially opened on 30 June 1880.

A large turret clock was added to the clock tower in 1881. The interior was refurbished and additions made in the 1930s to designs by Oakley and Parkes, undertaken by builder G. Farnsworth and supervised by City Engineer A. E. Aughtie. The low mansard towers that originally flanked the central tower were removed in 1945. The Town Hall, built on an elevated site, in the Victorian Academic Classical style with French Second Empire features, is a rendered building featuring a wide facade with a central portico and projecting pavilions at each corner. The facade is dominated by a giant order Corinthian colonnade expressed as pilasters along the walls, fluted engaged columns on the pavilions and freestanding columns on the projecting portico with a triangular pediment embellished with the words ‘Town of Emerald Hill’ and the municipality’s coat of arms. A tall tower with a cupola, mansard and Baroque colonnettes clustered at its base is centred behind the pediment. The side facades have detailing of comparable complexity to the front facade.

The Jubilee Fountain, situated in the forecourt, was designed by G H Henderson and built in 1905 to commemorate both the jubilee of the municipality and the 140 local residents who fought in the South African Boer War and the 8 who died. The tall, temple-like fountain is set on bluestone steps with granite columns and canopy, brass font and two bronze plaques. The fountain is surmounted by ironwork supporting three gas globes constructed in 1994 as a reproduction of the original design.