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Excerpts

The site
"The site of the future town was an ideal one, consisting of undulating land richly carpeted with grass and studded with noble red gum trees, which gave it a beautiful, park-like appearance. Such was the site as I saw it on a bright October morning in 1852." (Albert Mattingley)

The clients
"The weather on opening night, said The Weekly Times, was ‘wet and sloppy’. Carriages and cabs had been told in the newspapers to ‘put down’ from the direction of Errol Street, downhill to the portico, and ‘take up’ much later, from the opposite direction. As they made their way to the portico, the crowds on the narrow pavement and muddy street, if they were anything like their contemporaries, indulged in commentary and jeering. A small group of seamstresses and milliners, their umbrellas furled because the rain had now gone away, used them to point out detail on the ladies gowns – some they had put there themselves – and to suggest that the men might have gone to better tailors in the city. A huddle of drinkers outside the Court House Hotel opposite the portico barracked Cr. ‘Windbag’ Laurens as he arrived, punctual as always, and cheered Cr. Carroll’s arrival half an hour later, just before the most honoured guests were due."

The architect
"Shortly after Carroll, and in the company of other members of the Town Hall Committee, the red-headed architect of the Town Hall, Mr. George Raymond Johnson, was welcomed with cheers, encouraged from among the crowd by Mr. Hill, the superintendent of works, who followed Mr. Johnson into the hall."

The building
"The building is of noble proportions, exquisite in design, tastefully ornamented, and reflects the greatest credit on the architect, Mr J.R. (sic) Johnson." North Melbourne Advertiser 23 June 1876.

The opening
"The Errol Street pharmacist and Ball Committee member Charles Ager Atkin developed a special array of perfumes for the occasion. Some had predictable names, such as rose, patchouli and lavender but he also threw in some saucy colonial names – Kiss me Sweetly, Box his Ears etc – and an intriguing Pride of Hotham Bouquet."


 

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