Melbourne has hundreds of skyscrapers, and today I am looking at one of the less notable ones: 250 Elizabeth Street. Once known as Myer House, the building once served as the head office of the Myer department stores. Today the the 22 stories of tower are occupied by a mix freehold and serviced apartments, with the podium housing a single level of shops at ground level with two levels of car parking above.
Located next door to the Myer Emporium on the south-east corner of Elizabeth and Lonsdale Streets, across from St Francis’ Church, the site was originally occupied by a four storey stone building. This photo from the State Library of Victoria dates from 1959, and shows the view east down Lonsdale Street.
Plans for Myer House were floated in the 1970s, with this artists impression dating from 1973 – thiss time we are looking south down Elizabeth Street.
Work started soon after, with this 1975 photo by Wolfgang Sievers showing construction well underway, with the stone coloured concrete cladding moving slowly up the tower.
This undated photo by Jeffery Coles shows the building after it was completed, showing the “M” logo atop the stark white tower, and the “Myer House” lettering on the brown granite podium walls. Back at ground level the shopping arcade was managed by Myer, with a doorway linking it to their adjacent Lonsdale Street department store, and a vehicle ramp descended from Lonsdale Street into a loading dock for the store.
By the time the late 1990s had rolled around Myer had moved out of their namesake building, with their store support offices having to the upper levels of the Lonsdale Street department store building, as well as the Coles Myer “deathstar” on Toorak Road at Tooronga.
With the building otherwise empty the building was sold off, with the new owner converting the office building into an apartment tower by Q4 of 2002 for Somerset Serviced Residences. From the exterior not much changed:
- The outside was painted dark grey with light beige stripes down each corner,
- Small balconies were cut into the eastern and western faces of the tower,
- A third level of carparking was added above the previous upper level deck.
Meanwhile the bland building still dominates Elizabeth Street.
Another decade on and Myer has now completely withdrawn from the city block, having sold the Lonsdale Street building and moved their department store into a refurbished building on Bourke Street. All that will remain of the heritage listed Lonsdale Street store will be the facades on Lonsdale and Little Bourke Streets, with the new owners Colonial First State Global Asset Management currently bulldozing the rest of the block to build a new shopping complex called “The Emporium”.
The demolition job is a story for another day…