Peter Johnson

Peter Johnson

Peter has been a resident and practicing architect in St Kilda for over 33 years. He comes from a long line of architects, engineers and builders going back at least 5 generations with various branches of his family having lived in the South Melbourne and St Kilda area since 1859.

He has researched and written on a range of architectural and local history subjects, and has contributed to the Australian Dictionary of Biography and the Encyclopedia of Australian Architecture.

Peter has acted as the Society's heritage officer since 2002 and was its president from 2009 until 2015.

Monday, 04 January 2016 11:32

Gatwick Hotel, 34 Fitzroy Street

Edward O'Donnell's house Lockinge stood on this site from ca. 1881-1937. Following O'Donnell's death the house was put up for auction on Tuesday 6 August. On auction day it was passed in but later purchased by Margaret Carter sometime in late 1935. Initially she ran it as a guest house with Lorna Beale as its manager. In 1937 Harry Raymond Johnson architect, then City of St Kilda Councillor for West Ward, was employed to design a new modern hotel for the partnership. By the beginning of October 1937 the 'luxurious' Gatwick Hotel was being advertised as 'only just built' and proudly announcing that it's Oriental chef was Alex Julius.

Other Names Gatwick Private Hotel
Date Built Building permit issued 23.4.1937, works completed end of September 1937
Architect Harry Raymond Johnson (1892-1954)
Structural Engineer Clive Steel
Owner (1935-1944) Margaret Carter, 38 Woolton Ave, Thornbury.
Operator (1935-1944) Marlbeale PL, manager Lorna Mary Beale
Other Owners (1944-1977) Louis Whyte, (1977-1998) Ronald & Vittoria Carbone, (1998-) Carbone twin daughters Yvette Kelly & Rose Banks

Argus 1937-10-02 p23

Wednesday, 31 July 2013 15:05

Esplanade Hotel, 11 Esplanade

Other names Carlyon's Esplanade Hotel, Carlyon's Hotel
Date built: 1877
Architect: Smith & Johnson architects
Builder: unknown
Cost: unknown
1st Owner: James Orkney (1822-1896)


The style of architecture employed is called Italianate. It was modelled on a type of Italian palazzo style that employed classical details but without using columns or pilasters, and was made popular in Britain by the work of the architects such as Sir Charles Barry (1795-1860). In Victoria it became the predominant style from about 1875 until the late 1880s. The design of this building is similar to many that would have been built at the time in the Sussex seaside towns of Brighton or Eastbourne.

The main façade forms a large 3 storey block with a faceted bay either end. The roof has no parapets but instead projects out to form an eave with brackets under. At ground level you can clearly see the projecting nib walls that distinguished each of the three houses from each other with their separate entrances. Each house had a verandah at ground level. However the central house also has a first floor balcony. This breaks up the fenestration, provides a strong central emphasis and ultimately balances the whole composition. Unfortunately this important element was removed with the 1920 additions. The rendered brickwork finish would have been left unpainted, giving it a soft grey appearance that toned in with the dark grey slate roof above. The current white painted appearance probably also dates from the 1920 renovations.


The site was created by the subdivision of Crown Allotment 2 (the previous site of the New Bath Hotel) by the estate of John Duerdin in ca. 1870. In 1874 James Orkney (1822-1896), a resident at the NE corner of the Esplanade and Victoria Street, purchased a section of Duerdin's paddock fronting the Esplanade.

Orkney had been involved in railway construction in Britain, before arriving in Victoria in 1852 and becoming the proprietor of the Sir Charles Hotham Hotel in Flinders Street shortly afterwards. In 1861 he was elected MLA for West Melbourne until 1864 and then again in 1880-1885. He was a prominent leader of Scot's Church and comissioner of the Melbourne Harbour Trust 1877-1878.

In 1877 he commissioned the firm of Smith and Johnson architects to design a new terrace of 3 residences for the site. However by November 1878 he had changed his mind and decided to convert the premises to a hotel.

The Orkney family and their descendants continued to own the site until the mid 1950s.


1877-? John Hay; 1920-1925 Thomas Symington Carlyon (1865-1925); 1925- Mrs A. E. Hadwen; -1935- J. Sharpe-Brown;

Famous guests:

1891, Sarah Bernhardt (1844-1823) French opera singer; Alfred Felton (1831-1904) businessman and philanthropist.

  Source Content or [note]
1. Tenders, Argus 1877.01.23 p.3 Tenders
Tenders required by noon 5 February, for erection of a terrace of three houses, at Esplanade, St Kilda for Jas, Orkney. Smith & Johnson architects

2. Notices, Argus 1877.11.16 p.8 Notice of application for a Publican's Licence
To the Licensing Magistrates for District of St Kilda, – I, James Hay, of St Kilda, do hereby give notice that I desire to obtain and will at the next annual licensing meeting apply for a public licence for a house situate at the Esplanade, St Kilda, to be known as the Esplanade Hotel, containing more than 50 rooms, exclusive of those required for the use of the family. The 15th day of November, AD 1877.

3. News, Argus 1891.05.29 p.5

Sarah Bernhardt Tour
…several other persons well known in theatrical circles were on the platform, and a carriage was waiting to convey Madame Bernhardt to the Esplanade Hotel, St Kilda, where she is to remain during her stay,…

4. Argus 1920.01.03 p.15 Esplanade Hotel, Sold
Mr. T. S. Carlyon, formerly of Ballarat, and lately of Carlyon's Hotel, Spencer street who has returned to Melbourne from a tour of the world, has purchased [the lease of] the Esplanade Hotel, St Kilda, and has decided to enlarge and remodel it.

5. The Australasian Decorator and Painter, 1921.06.01 p.235

Decorations at the Esplanade Hotel, St Kilda.
An interesting example of interior decoration has just been completed by Mr Harry Bush at Carlyon's Esplanade Hotel. [full description of alterations and the additions to the front and ballroom at the rear, with 4 images of these interiors]

6. Argus, 1925.07.21 p.13

Carlyon's Hotel Sold
Carlyon's Esplanade Hotel has been sold through Mr Percy Henry to Mrs A. E. Hadwen of Gelnbrook avenue, Malvern. The sale does not include the ballroom, which is not on the licensed premises. It is understood that the price is about £35,000. There are about 90 bedrooms. Until recently Mrs Hadwen owned the Francacelli Cafe, which she sold for £15,000. Possession will be given on August 10. The future of the ballroom is uncertain.

7 Argus 1925.10.21 p.24

Death of Mr. T. Carlyon. 
The death occurred at a private hospital of Mr Thomas Symington Carlyon, whose name has been associated with the direction of leading hotels. Mr Carlyon was aged 60 years, and death followed an illness of three weeks. … The Esplanade Hotel and the Ballroom were sold by Mr. Carlyon in August of this year, and it was his intention to travel.

8. Argus 1935.04.24

Hotel to Cost £225,000
A new hotel of eight stories constructed of steel and concrete will be erected this year on the site of the  Esplanade Hotel, formerly known as Carlyon's. Each of the 250 bedrooms will have its own bathroom, and a glass-enclosed bathing pool will be provided on the roof.
Three lounges, a dining-room to seat 350 persons, a saloon bar, and bookstall will be included in the ground floor, and in the basement will be a grill room, gymnasium and Turkish baths, pharmacy, hairdressing saloon, and a dry-cleaning department.
Demolition will begin in July, and the new hotel, which will cost about £225,000, will be ready for occupation in March 1936. The building was designed by Mr F. G. Richardson, architect, of 90 Queen Street.
Mr J. Sharpe-Brown, a former manager of the Mount Buffalo Chalet, and proprietor of the present hotel, will be general manager of the new hotel.

Thursday, 31 January 2013 16:42

eBooks (for purchase)

thumb cooper v1Author: John Butler Cooper 

Title: History of St Kilda: from its first settlement to a city and after, 1840 to 1930, Volume 1
Description: published 1931; xvi, 405 pages; 47 illustrations. A pdf facsimile.  (This is 8.6Mb file).

Cost: AUD $10 (but free to registered members).

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Author: John Butler Cooper
Title: History of St Kilda: from its first settlement to a city and after, 1840 to 1930, Volume 2
Description: published 1931; xv, 338 pages; 70 illustrations. A pdf facsimile.  (This is a 5 Mb file).

Cost: AUD $10 (but free to registered members). 

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thumb Daley coverAuthor: Charles Daley

Title: History of South Melbourne from the foundation of settlement at Port Phillip to the year 1938. 
Description: published 1940; xxiii, 407 pages; illustrations, maps, portraits. A pdf facsimile. 
(This is a 5 MB file)

Cost: AUD $10 (but free to registered members). 

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thumb PROVlogo

Digitisation of these books was only made possible
by the generous support of the Public Records Office Victoria 
and their Local History Grants Program.


Monday, 25 June 2012 11:58

Murweh, 18-20 Esplanade

Other Names: Rathlin (?-1901), Kilnyana (1901-?), Mandalay (1916-1979?)
Date Built: 1882


Smith & Johnson [The partnership of Alfred Louis Smith (1830-1907) & Arthur Ebden Johnson(1823-1895)]
Builder: not known
Cost: not known
Owners: Alfred Kirkpatrick (1882-?), Mrs E M Perkins (-1892), Southern insurance Co Ltd (-1901)
Occupants: Alfred Kirkpatrick (1882-1885), Thomas Smith (1886-1887), Mrs E M Perkins (-1892), Mrs A W Fraser (-1901)
Description: Large two storey Italianate villa of 10 main rooms with double height verandah facing the the sea.
History: The site formed part of Crown Allotment 7 and was purchased by Alfred Kirkpatrick in ca. 1880. Smith & Johnson architects designed the house in 1882 which was named after the Queensland station on the Warrego River that Kirkrpatrick owned in partnership with Edward Quin.

 mmbw1367cpart MMBW detail base plan 1367, dated 1897, SLV Maps Collection

Source Description or [note]
1.     Argus 1880.10.29 p.2 Sale by Auction: This day at three o'clock on the ground, being subdivision of Crown Portion 7 into six valuable allotments. In the estate of the Late Thomas Jackson ... [description follows].
2. Argus 1881.09.19 p.4

Commercial Intelligence: Messrs Richard Gibson & Co report having sold, on account of Mr Mars Buckley, his Murweh Station, on the Warrego River, Queensland … Messrs Alfred Kirkpatrick and Edward Quin, of Wilcannia, being the purchasers.

3. Argus 1882.02.23 p.11

Tenders: invited by the 27th inst. for erecting residence for A. Kirkpatrick, Esq, Esplanade, St Kilda. Smith and Johnson, architects, Market buildings.

4. Argus 1885.10.17 p.8

To Let: Furnished or unfurnished, for one or two years, Murweh, Esplanade, St Kilda.

5. Argus 1892.03.23 p.2

Sales by Auction: This day at twelve o'clock, Rathlin, formerly Murweh. [description follows]

Sunday, 11 December 2011 17:35

Herford, 203-211 Alma Road

Date built: 1870, November-?
Architect: Lloyd Taylor (1830-1900)


1st Owner: Frederick Christian Lange, -1870-1888
Other Owners/occupiers: William Officer, 1888-

Frederick Christian Lange (1832-1888) purchased Crown Allotment 172A sometime between 1864 and 1870. He lived nearby in Inkerman Street and was probably aware of the site's strategic location on top of a small hill and thus having good views of the Bay.

Lange employed Lloyd Taylor (1830-1900) architect to design his new house. Tenders closed on 31st October 1870 but it is not known who the winning contractor was. The house was to be know as Herford, probably after the village of the same name in North Rhine-Westphalia district, Germany. Lange probably had some family connection with this village. Lange was in partnership with Emil Thoneman trading under the name of Lange & Thonemen. They described themselves as merchants and general importers. Frederick was also one of the local Australasian directors for the Swiss Lloyd Marine Insurance Company.

Over time the house was enlarged and the adjoining Crown Allotments 173A & 167B on the south side were added to the grounds making a total area of nearly 15 acres.

mmbw1419cNorthern section, part MMBW detail plan 1419 (May 1900), SLV MapsWith perfect timing, Lange decide to return to Europe in 1888 and so he put the house to auction on Thursday, 22 March. The sale notice describes the house thus: –

Family Mansion erected for the owner , no expense having been spared in its finish and construction.
The residence erected on the most elevated and commanding position in East St Kilda, comprises on the ground floor – drawing room and dining rooms, each 20ft x 16ft; breakfast room and parlour, each 15ft x 16ft. Music or ballroom, one of the most handsome rooms in the colony, 35ft x 23ft, with bay window, lavatory, fitted with every requirement; kitchen, 19ft x 12ft; scullery, 12ft x 12ft,. First floor – two bedrooms, 20ft x 12ft; bathroom (No. 1) plunge and shower, hot and cold water laid on. Handsome bedroom, 23ft x 16ft, with adjoining bathroom, bath of white marble; billiard room19ft x 23ft with bay window 4ft deep; servant's rooms, 23ft x 12ft and 12ft x 12ft. The cellar, 28ft x 8ft, is cool and dry.
The out-offices comprise brick coach house, two stall stable, harness room, man's room, loose box, fruit room, and dairy.
A balcony and verandah run along three sides of the house, an elegant conservatory being on the west, connection it with the ballroom. The large conservatory imported from Europe, 40 x 30, and 22ft high, is one of the most elegant and beautiful in the colony. There are two stone and intermediate houses about 44 x 25 each, orchid house 61 x 15, peach house 60 x18, lawn tennis court, asphalted, enclosed with galvanised iron netting.
The whole of these improvements are on Portion 172A, comprising 5 acres and 12 perches, at the corner of Alma-road and Herford-street, the massive iron entrance gates and carriage drive entering from this street.
The grounds are laid out as garden, shrubbery, lane and grazing paddocks, the shrubs and flowers well grown, and selected. Crown Portion 167B and 173A, containing 9 acres 2 roods and 24 perches, are laid out in garden, shrubbery, and grass paddocks.

The proud new owner was William Officer who paid £23,500 for the property. Meanwhile Lange was not to enjoy his European holiday for long. He died in Bonn, Germany on 13th November 1888.

The grounds were subdivided in 1914, although the house remained until July 1940 when it was finally demolished.

House images ca. 1880 

Garden images ca. 1880 


1. Argus 1870.10.20 p.3


Tenders are invited until 31st inst. inclusive for the erection of a villa residence in Alma street, East St Kilda, for F. C. Lange, Esq. Lloyd Taylor Architect, 82 Collins-street west.

2. Argus 1875.10.27 p.1


Swiss Lloyd Marine Insurance Company, Australasian Branch 84 Collins Street West, Melbourne. Local directors - Jules Rennard Esq, Frederick C. Lange Esq. (Lange and Thoneman)

3. Argus 1888.03.03 p.15 Sale by Auction 
[Description of house as above]
4. Argus 1888.03.24 p.10

Commercial Intelligence

Messrs C J & T Ham report that the sums for which they sold Mr Lange's residence , Herford, East St Kilda, yesterday, was incorrectly stated as £13,500. It should have been £23,500, Mr William Officer being the purchaser.

5. Argus 1888.11.16 p.1


On the 13th inst., at Bonn, Germany. Frederick Christian Lange, late of Herford, Alma Road, St Kilda, aged 56 years.

6. Argus 1914.09.12 p.8

Sale by Auction

Land Auction 3 o'clock today, Herford Estate, 60 magnificent allotments, easy terms.

7. Argus 1940.01.17 p.14


Wednesday February 7, estate of the Late Thomas Rothwell, Herford Hall, 30 Lansdowne Road, large two story brick mansion.

8. Argus 1940.02.09 p.8

Reports of Auctions

Sold a large brick home at 38 Lansdowne Road for £3,500

9. Argus 1940.07.13 p.12


Wednesday July 24, 38 Lansdowne Street, East St Kilda, large demolition sale.

Sunday, 15 April 2012 21:26

Yanakie, 161 Alma Road

More information will be added soon.


Tuesday, 10 April 2012 20:59

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Sunday, 11 December 2011 14:59

Maps & Drawings

The collection holds many maps & drawings. Some important items include:

  • John Vardy, Borough of St Kilda maps, 1873 (coloured copy)
  • John Vardy, Borough of St Kilda maps, 1873 (B&W copy)
  • Victoria Railways, St Kilda to Brighton Tramway, plan of St Kilda Street and Esplanade intersection.



For details about our Collection Policy, please click here.

Sunday, 11 December 2011 14:57


The collection holds many manuscripts.



For details about our Collection Policy, please click here.

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