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Former Working Men’s College (Francis Ormond Building)

Peter Maltezos's picture

Text from Melbourne Architecture

Former Working Men’s College (Francis Ormond Building)

124 LaTrobe Street

1885-87 Terry & Oakden and Nahum Barnet (Bowen Street wing)

1890-92 Oakden Addison and Kemp La Trobe Street wing & tower block)

c. 1935, 1955, 1997 additions, alterations and refurbishment


The first building of the Working Men’s College, and now the administrative headquarters of RMIT University, the Francis Ormond Building was constructed in two stages. The Bowen Street wing (1885-87) housed the main lecture hall (now the council chamber), workshops, classrooms and caretaker’s quarters. Designed in rigorous Gothic Revival style, this first stage was funded one-third by the founder of the Working Men’s College, the Hon. Francis Ormond MLC, and two-thirds from public donations and levies raised from members of the Trades Hall Council.

The La Trobe Street wing and its distinctive tower block, which suggests the influence of High Victorian architect William Burges, comprised the second stage (1890-92). Ormond was again the major sponsor, but this time through his bequest. Added were offices, college council and instructors’ rooms, classrooms and laboratories. The final building was thus completed to the original masterplan of its architect and instructor at the Working Men’s College, Percy Oakden.


An Edwardian postcard below and after that two photographs of my own.


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