In Literary & Arts

Victoria Premier Ted Baillieu

Victoria Minister for the Arts Ted Baillieu

Golden Oldie: Old Treasury Building Celebrates 150 Years

Victor P Taffa

Premier and Minister for the Arts Ted Baillieu visited the Old Treasury Building yesterday to mark its 150th anniversary and launch a new biography on the life and work of the building’s architect, JJ Clark.

“It was the gold rush in colonial Victoria that spurred the construction of a Treasury Building for Melbourne and 150 years on, the heritage-listed building remains one of our city’s most iconic and historically significant public sites.” Premier Baillieu said.

Built to store the colony’s gold, complete with a metre thick floor above the barrel-vaulted basement, the Old Treasury Building also provided offices for Victoria’s Governor, Premier, Treasurer, Registrar-General and the Registrar of the Supreme Court.


“The Old Treasury Building was the headquarters for Victoria’s political and administrative leaders, making it second only to Parliament House as the centre of state affairs in Victoria.” Premier Baillieu said.

“The building that remains is one of the finest examples of Renaissance Revival architecture that exists today.”

“What is even more extraordinary about the building, is that it was designed by a teenager, 19 year old JJ Clark.”

“This says as much about Clark’s own remarkable talents as it does about the youthful energy and aspirations of Melbourne in the mid 1800’s, an energy that is very much still alive today.” Premier Baillieu said.

John James Clark (1838–1915) immigrated to Melbourne from the UK when he was 14 years old and just five years later began work on the Old Treasury Building. Some of his other landmarks include the Melbourne City Baths, Customs House, Royal Mint, Melbourne Hospital for Women (later Queen Victoria Memorial Hospital), parts of Victoria’s Government House and the Melbourne and Pentridge Prisons, as well as numerous other public buildings interstate and in New Zealand.

The biography, JJ Clark: Architect of the Australian Renaissance by Dr. Andrew Dodd, is the first to document Clark’s life and work.

To coincide with the 150th anniversary, a free exhibition Gold and Governors: 150 years of the Old Treasury Building opens today at the Old Treasury Building, providing visitors with a glimpse into the history of the building and the development of Melbourne.

A series of events will accompany the exhibition, including lectures and seminars, heritage walking tours and education programs.

Gold and Governors: 150 years of the Old Treasury Building will be open at the Old Treasury Building, located at 20 Spring Street, Melbourne, until 30 November 2012. Entry is free.


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