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Former Customs House (Now Immigration Museum)

Peter Maltezos's picture

Text from Walking Melbourne

The National Trust guide to the historic and architectural landmarks of central Melbourne

Former Customs House (Now Immigration Museum)

400-424 Flinders Street


This strong classical building is one of Melbourne’s major 19th century institutional buildings. Like some other major public buildings, it is the result of a very ambitious early design, subsequently modified. The original 1850s design (by Knight Kemp & Kerr) was only partly built by 1858; it was then completed to a design by JJ Clark in 1876 without the projected grand stairs and classical portico. The Long Room on the first floor is one of the grandest and most elegantly proportioned classical interiors in Melbourne, and now houses the main exhibition space of the Immigration Museum, while the former basement storerooms house the café.



Above, we see an old Edwardian postcard of Customs House and below, two recent photographs by me of its current incarnation into the Immigration Museum.




Above, Queen’s Wharf opposite Customs House on the south side of Flinders Street in 1880, the reason why Customs House was situated where it was.

Below, we see a lithograph from 1962 by Harold Freedman of Customs House and the disused Queen's Wharf.



The Immigration Museum website:


Located in the Old Customs House in the heart of the city, the Immigration Museum explores stories of people from all over the world who have migrated to Victoria from the 1800s through to the present day. Stories are brought to life through moving images, computer interactives, voices, memories and belongings. The result is an entertaining experience that engages the senses.

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Peter Maltezos's picture

Photograph from 1885.

I collect, therefore I am.

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Development & Planning

Wednesday, December 13, 2017 - 12:00
The swirl of development activity in Footscray has found another gear as new projects are submitted for approval, or are on the verge of beginning construction. Two separate planning applications have been advertised by Maribyrnong City Council; their subsequent addition to the Urban Melbourne Project Database has seen the overall number of apartment developments within Footscray in development swell to 40.

Policy, Culture & Opinion

Monday, November 20, 2017 - 12:00
The marriage of old and new can be a difficult process, particularly when the existing structure has intrinsic heritage value. In previous times Fitzroy's 237 Napier Street served as the home of furniture manufacturer C.F. Rojo and Sons. Taking root during 1887, Christobel Rojo oversaw operations though over time the site would become home to furniture manufacturer Thonet.


Visual Melbourne

Friday, August 25, 2017 - 07:00
The former site of John Batman's home, Batman's Hill is entering the final stages of its redevelopment. Collins Square's final tower has begun its skyward ascent, as has Lendlease's Melbourne Quarter Commercial and Residential precinct already. Melbourne Quarter's first stage is at construction and involves a new 12-storey home for consultancy firm Arup along with a skypark.

Transport & Design

Friday, December 15, 2017 - 11:00
Infrastructure Victoria unveiled a new round of research into its larger programme of work dealing with managing transport demand. The authority contracted Arup and KPMG to produce the Melbourne Activity Based Model (MABM) and while it is new, it is considered fit for purpose in the strategic context.

Sustainability & Environment

Tuesday, October 24, 2017 - 12:00
Cbus Property's office development for Medibank at 720 Bourke Street in Docklands recently became the first Australian existing property to receive a WELL Certification, Gold Shell and Core rating. The WELL rating goes beyond sustainable building features with a greater focus on the health and well-being of a building's occupants.