walk the historic Heart

The Historic Heart is home to one of Perth’s greatest collections of heritage buildings, together forming important streetscapes of late nineteenth and early twentieth century architecture.

The collection of buildings includes Government House, the Perth Town Hall, the State Buildings, St George’s Cathedral, St Mary’s Cathedral, Fire Brigade No. 1 Station and the remains of Jewell’s Colonial Hospital. In addition to these well known Perth landmarks, there are also a number of beautiful private residences and commercial buildings, and a magnificent heritage-listed Moreton Bay Fig tree.

Take the time to roam the streets of Perth's east end and discover our city's vivid past. The streets of the Historic Heart are waiting to be discovered.

Photographs by Dion Robeson.



 
Historic Heart Perth Town Hall

1. Perth Town Hall 1870

 

Corner or Barrack and Hay Streets, Perth

One of Perth’s heritage jewels, the Town Hall took some time to construct. The foundation was laid on 24 May 1867 by Governor Hampton, but it was not opened until 1 June 1870 by Governor Weld. The design was a joint production of James Manning and Richard Roach Jewell. Manning was responsible for all of the woodwork, including the magnificent roof, while Jewell designed and supervised the erection of the main building.

All of the woodwork was constructed by prisoners in Fremantle, and the huge circular ribs for the roof were conveyed from the prison to Perth on a carriage specially constructed for the purpose. Convicts also assisted with the hard work of raising what was then Perth’s tallest building.

What is now the ground floor was originally intended to be for markets, although the City Council was forced to convert some of the bays into offices. In 1875 explorer Ernest Giles arrived and his camels were parked in the undercroft while he attended a welcoming party in the main hall. The same year a horse-drawn fire engine began to be garaged underneath the Town Hall.

In addition to Council activities, the Town Hall has also hosted concerts, exhibitions, bazaars, lectures, dances, skating, and stage shows. It was also the place that generations gathered every 31 December to hear the New Year rung in by the bells of its clock.

Words from Heritage Perth

Historic Heart State Buildings

2. State Buildings 1874

Cathedral Avenue, Perth

Starting with just three small buildings to run all of State Government business, various additions were made to the site on the corner of Barrack Street and St Georges Terrace. It was not until 1890 that the complex started to take on its more familiar look, when architect George Temple Poole drew up plans for a new General Post Office in the French Second Empire Style. More buildings, and sometimes additional storeys were added to existing buildings, and in 1904 the facades of the older buildings were remodelled, giving the State Buildings their much-admired elevations which remain today.

Over their 140-year history, the State Buildings have been used as Public Offices, a Police Court and cellblock, Treasury, Survey Department, GPO, Immigration Offices, office of the Premier and Cabinet, Lands Department and Titles Building.

During the last half of the 20th century, various government departments left the building for new accommodation. After this, the site was empty for nearly two decades and a variety of proposals for its redevelopment never saw the light of day. However, it now has a new lease of life with a variety of upmarket bars, cafes and retail spaces, including the luxury COMO The Treasury Hotel.

Words from Heritage Perth

Historic Heart St George's Cathedral

3. St George's Cathedral 1879

Cathedral Avenue, Perth

Building a cathedral is no easy matter, so it is no surprise it took from 1877 to 1888 to raise the funds, draw up the plans and erect Perth’s premier place of Anglican worship. St George’s Cathedral owes its existence to the energy and foresight of Bishop Henry Parry who arrived in WA in 1877 and quickly realised his first task was to build a cathedral which would meet future needs.

The building committee decided to put up a “good, plain Gothic building” and initially approached famous English church designer Arthur Blomfield, before finally settling on Sydney-based architect, Edmund Blacket. Since he died in 1883, sadly Blacket never got to see the finished cathedral, his only work in Western Australia.

Funds were sought both in WA and in England, with one anonymous donor (who later turned out to the chair of the building committee, Sir Luke Leake) offering £2,000. With enough money raised to start works, it was decided to lay the foundations, build the naïve, aisles and transepts, and worry about towers, chapels and vestries at a later date.

The foundation stone was laid on 2 November 1880, although it took until 8 August 1888 before St George’s Cathedral was ready for its first service. To complete the cathedral, a sum of more than £17,000 had to be raised, which is all the more impressive when you realise there were only 40,000 European settlers in all of Western Australia.

Words from Heritage Perth

Historic Heart Burt Hall Song School

4. Burt Hall 1918 and
Cadogan Song School 2017

Cathedral Square, Perth

Septimus and Louisa Burt decided to erect a memorial to their son Lt Theodore Burt, who was killed in action in France in 1916, aged just 23 years. After speaking with the Archbishop of Perth, the Burts decided to build a church hall adjacent to St George’s Cathedral. By the time the building was completed, another of their sons, Francis, had also been killed in action.

The building was designed by architect George Herbert Parry, and Sir John Forrest, a friend of the Burts, laid the foundation stone for Burt Memorial Hall on 26 October 1917. The Hall was officially opened on 12 June 1918 in front of a ‘large and representative gathering of churchmen and citizens of Perth’. It was much praised by the West Australian.

Over the years, Burt Memorial Hall has served as an important church and community venue, hosting many events including art shows, religious services and lectures and children’s Sunday School classes. Words from Heritage Perth

The Cadogan Song School is a new concrete and glass building to service the choir of St George’s Cathedral and the Anglican Diocese of Perth. The building is located to the north of Burt Memorial Hall, with direct access to the lower level Hall, with the main entrance accessible from the Dean’s Yard’s.

St Andrews Cathedral

5. St Andrews 1859

36 St Georges Terrace, Perth

Constructed in 1906, St, Andrews Uniting Church was one of Perth’s first Presbyterian churches. The building’s Federation Gothic style of architecture was the achievement of architect James Hinse. Hinse incorporated red brickwork and sandstone detailing, which compliments the style of St George's Cathedral and Burt Hall at the adjacent Cathedral Square. 

The church was one of the principal places of worship for Presbyterians in Perth. St Andrew’s was the focus of Presbyterian activity in Perth for much of the twentieth century. The church closed its doors in 2009.
 

Historic Heart Cremorne Arcade

6. Cremorne Arcade 1897

572-578 Hay Street, Perth

The Cremorne Arcade provides evidence of the urban expansion and intensive building program that occurred in the City of Perth because of the State’s gold boom from the 1890s to World War I. 

A substantial commercial premise of this era, Cremorne Arcade illustrates the type of two-storey commercial building constructed in Perth in the early twentieth century, providing shops at the ground floor and offices at the first floor.

For over twenty years from 1901, Cremorne Arcade was used as a business premises by Charles Harper, who served as Lord Mayor for Perth from 1937 to 1939.

Today the Cremorne Arcade continues to be utilised for retail purposes with office space on the upper level.

For more information see Heritage Perth

Historic Heart Criterion Hotel

7. Criterion Hotel 1937

560 Hay Street, Perth

Built for the Swan Brewery Company Ltd in 1937, the Criterion Hotel (formerly the Regatta Hotel) is the only remaining Art Deco hotel in the Perth. 


Art Deco was a popular architectural style throughout Australia after the Depression, when building activity increased significantly from 1936. Hotels inspired by Art Deco architecture included the centrally located Adelphi Hotel (demolished in the 1970s) and the Bohemia Hotel (demolished in 1980s), along with the Raffles

The Criterion Hotel is also significant as the site of the oldest continuously licensed public house in Perth, with a “pub” operating on the site of the Criterion Hotel since at least 1848.

For more information see Heritage Perth

Pier Street Precinct

8. Pier Street Precinct

Pier Street Perth

Pier Street comprises of an interesting collection of buildings and a pleasant streetscape. The precinct’s unique appearance is due to the amalgamation of diverse period buildings; the Salvation Army Fortress and Federation period commercial buildings, the 1960s Railton Temperance Hotel and the later twentieth century Sebel Perth Hotel. 

The street is home to several retailers, including Australia’s longest standing independent record store, Dada’s Records. The iconic store is renowned for having the largest selection of new vinyl in the Southern Hemisphere.
 

Historic Heart Salvation Army

9. fmr Salvation Army Headquarters 1899

Pier Street, Perth

The former Salvation Army Headquarters, constructed in 1899, is a conspicuous Perth landmark designed in the Federation Free style of architecture - complete with a fortress. 

Around the corner on Murray Street is the former Salvation Army Congress Hall, constructed in 1929-1930 in the Inter-War Georgian style. The two buildings are linked by a bridge over the adjacent laneway.

Following its establishment in Western Australia in 1891, the Salvation Army quickly expanded throughout the colony and these buildings served as the administrative and social service headquarters of the organisation, a role it fulfilled for 90 years. 
No longer occupied by the Salvation Army, both buildings have now been re-purposed. The former Congress Hall is now apartments and the former Headquarters is now office space.
 

Historic Heart Miss Mauds

10. Miss Mauds 1911

Pier Street Perth

After establishing Perth’s first authentic Miss Maud Swedish Pastry house in 1971, Maud Edmiston applied for the first alfresco dining area in Perth in 1979 for her restaurant the Miss Maud Smörgåsbord Restaurant on the corner of Pier and Murray Street.

For over 45 years, Miss Maud’s has been serving Western Australia with traditional Swedish treats.  

Historic Heart Government Printing

11. fmr Government 

Printing Office 1894

78 Murray Street, Perth

The former Government Printing Office was built between 1894 – 1922 in the Federation Free Style. The original building was completed in 1894 at a cost of 4,144 pounds, with additions made in 1907 and 1922. 

The printer was responsible for the printing of Parliamentary papers, The Government Gazette, most of the official stationery of the various Government departments, and the publication of the scientific and professional papers prepared by the Government Geologist and other officers.

No longer used as a printing office, the beautifully restored building is now home to Curtin University of Technology.

For more information see Heritage Perth

Historic Heart Government Stores

12. fmr Perth Government Stores 1911

70-74 Murray Street

Adjacent to the former Government Printing Office, the former Perth Government Stores was built in 1911 in the Federation Free Classical style, with the front façade employing Georgian elements. 

It is one of the many buildings designed by the Public Works Department under the direction of Hillson Beasley, its chief architect, and built by William Atkins, a well-known West Australian builder.

Historic Heart Perth Salvation Army

13. fmr Salvation Army Congress Hall 1929

48-54 Murray Street, Perth

The former Salvation Army Congress Hall was constructed in 1929-1930 in the Inter-War Georgian style. Around the corner on Pier Street is the former Salvation Army Headquarters, a conspicuous Perth landmark constructed in 1899 in the Federation Free style - with a fortress.

Following its establishment in Western Australia in 1891, the Salvation Army quickly expanded throughout the colony and these buildings served as the administrative and social service headquarters of the organisation, a role it fulfilled for 90 years. 
No longer occupied by the Salvation Army, both buildings have now been re-purposed. The former Congress Hall is now apartments and the former Headquarters is now office space.

Historic Heart Chief Secretary

14. fmr Chief Secretary 1912

57 Murray Street, Perth

The former Chief Secretary Office was constructed in 1912 in the Federation Free Classical style with influences of Federation Free style. With its fine detailing and distinctive Donnybrook stone façade, the building is a landmark in the Murray Street precinct.

Occupied by, several State Government departments dating from its construction in 1912 until 1992, the building now houses the Curtin University Law School.

Historic Heart YAL

15. Young Australia League 1922

45 Murray Street, Perth

The heritage listed Young Australia League (YAL) building at 45 Murray Street is a rare example of the Inter-War Free Classical style of architecture. It was built in 1922 to accommodate the club rooms and administration of YAL, an organisation originally established to promote the Australian rules football code. The foyer of the building now houses a museum of memorabilia associated with YAL’s early years.

In contrast to the YAL building, the adjacent building at 55 Murray Street is an example of the Federation Queen Anne style of architecture. Originally built as a house, this is the only remaining residential style building in the east end of Murray Street - and a rare example of a substantial late nineteenth century house in central Perth. The house was the home of a prominent member of the Roman Catholic community, philanthropist, property investor and politician Timothy Quinlan who, together with his father-in-law, Daniel Connor, invested in significant land holdings in central Perth which became known as the Connor-Quinlan Estate.

Historic Heart Fire Station Museum

16. No 1 Fire Station 1901

25 Murray Street, Perth

The No 1 Fire Station was the first purpose-built fire station in WA. It opened in 1901 and continued in operation until 1979.

Before No. 1 Fire Station was built in 1900, the Fire Brigade operated from the undercover area beneath the Town Hall on Barrack Street. Fire brigades in Western Australia expanded rapidly after the Fire Brigades Act of 1898. There were just 21 in 1902, but twenty years later this number had doubled.

The expansion of the service from 1898 meant the Central Fire Station under the Town Hall was no longer sufficient, so a new station was planned on the corner of Murray and Irwin Streets which opened in 1901. Designed by architects Cavanagh and Cavanagh, the new building was Romanesque in style, with solid rock-faced stone walls and a red-tiled roof.

The large engine room had three exits and held two large steamers and two hose carts, which doubled the equipment with which the brigade had previously been working. When a call was received, an officer pressed a button, which set the alarms ringing, flooded the building with electric light, and opened the trap doors in the ceilings to clear the sliding poles.

Today No. 1 Fire Station has been converted for use as a Fire Brigade Education and Heritage Centre, and is a popular museum and education centre, visited by both schools and the public.

Words from Heritage Perth

RPH Precinct

17. RPH Precinct 1855

The Royal Perth Hospital Heritage (RPH) Precinct,located at the east end of Murray Street, is home to the first purpose built hospital in Western Australia. It was opened in 1855 and continues in operation today.

The design of the buildings within the Precinct show changes over time in medical practice - as well as the development of State Government architecture from the construction of the first building in 1855 through to the 1930s. The Precinct is associated with a number of significant State Government Architects, including James Austin, Richard Roach Jewell, George Temple Poole, Hillson Beasley, William B Hardwick, A.E.’Paddy’ Clare, John Tait.

The Precinct is comprised of the following buildings: Colonial Hospital (1855) with Outpatients’ Extension (1923), Administration Building (1894), Kirkman House (1908-09) with Nurses’ Quarters Extension (1926), Old Kitchen (1909), Cancer Clinic (1930), Moreton Bay Fig Tree (c.1900) and associated gardens.

Historic Heart Victoria Square Cottages

18. Victoria Square Cottages 1890s

Victoria Square, Perth

The Victoria Square Cottages provide a rare example of a nineteenth century residential group in Perth. The cottages were part of the suburban residential development of the city when it expanded at the turn of the twentieth century. 

The decorative treatment of the front elevations of the cottages, and the repetition of these elements across the group, establishes a grander scale for the place than could be produced by a single building. The visual quality of the landscape is enhanced by the descending terracing of the cottages, which reflects the natural fall of the land. 

From the 1890s until the 1970s, the cottages served as rental accommodation for workers and their families. From the early 1970s they have been used by various of its social welfare and religious service organizations.
 

19. Archbishop's Palace 1855

Victoria Square, Perth

The Archbishop's Palace demonstrates the role played by Roman Catholicism in the early years of Western Australia and the growing wealth of the Roman Catholic community in Western Australia from 1855 onwards.

In 1855 the first section of the Episcopal palace was completed. Remodelling of the building over the next 80 years illustrates the changing styles of architecture thought appropriate for official ecclesiastical buildings – with its styling changed to a more classically derived and simplified design.

The Archbishop's Palace is held in high regard by members of the Roman Catholic community in Perth even though the Archbishop now resides elsewhere. The Archbishop's Palace is closely associated with Bishop Serra and Archbishops Clune and Prendiville.

Historic Heart St Mary's Cathedral

20. St Mary's Cathedral

Victoria Square, Perth

Few building projects in Perth have taken as long as St Mary’s Cathedral. When Michael Cavanagh drew up the plans for a new cathedral in the mid-1920s, he could never have imagined the building would only be completed some 80 years later. But the story of St Mary’s goes back to the very early Swan River Colony.

The first Catholic cathedral, which still stands today, was the St John’s Pro-Cathedral. However, it quickly proved too small for the growing Catholic community, and the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception replaced it in the middle of Victoria Square, on a spot originally allocated to the Anglican Church.

In the mid-1920s, plans for an even more impressive cathedral were drawn up, but limited funds meant only extensions to the older church could be managed at the time. This new cathedral was named St Mary’s, and despite plans for its completion, it was not until the end of the 20th century that sufficient funds became available. After it reopened in 2009, St Mary’s Cathedral finally completed Cavanagh’s vision of a grand gothic church. Today it remains the centre of focus for Perth’s Catholics, and the most impressive place of worship in Western Australia.

Words from Heritage Perth 

Public tours at 10.30am every Tuesday (except public holidays). Phone (08) 9223 1350. Admission: $5 donation. Tour tickets available at the Church Office at 25 Victoria Avenue.

St John's Pro Cathedral

21. St John's Pro Cathedral 1865

18 Victoria Avenue, Perth

Being the first Catholic Church in the state, the Pro-Cathedral of St John the Evangelist is an important building for the history of the Catholic Church in Western Australia. It was the centre of Catholic life for the first twenty years of the Catholic Church in the Swan River Colony until the first St Mary’s Cathedral was completed in 1865. 

The Cathedral is constructed of brick which has been covered with lime render and painted ochre to resemble the colour of the original building. Arched windows frame the building with wooden mullions and clear glass.

Historic Heart Mercy Convent

22. Mercy Heritage Centre 1871

Victoria Square, Perth

Located within the Convent of Mercy built in 1871, the Mercy Heritage Centre is a space where people can share in the story of the first Mercy Foundation in Australia in 1846 and learn more about the Mercy ministries and various traditions which have developed since then.

Open by appointment for guided tours. Admission is free. 
For further information visit Mercy Heritage Centre

Historic Heart The Perth Mint

23. Perth Mint 1899

Corner of Hay and Hill Streets, Perth

Established in 1899, The Perth Mint is the oldest operating mint in Australia, and Australia's only remaining gold rush mint.

Join a heritage tour and visit The Perth Mint’s dazzling exhibitions. View the largest gold coin in the world valued at more than $50 million, see Australia’s biggest collection of natural gold nuggets, watch a gold pouring demonstration in an 1899 melting house, and more. Hear tales of the Mint’s golden past and learn of the gold mining legends that shaped Western Australia.

Open daily from 9am to 5pm. Phone (08) 9421 7223 or
visit The Perth Mint website for admission prices and tour times.

Historic Heart Perth Concert Hall

24. Perth Concert Hall 1973

5 St Georges Terrace, Perth

The Perth Concert Hall is the main venue of the West Australian Symphony Orchestra, and also hosts a number of other events and performances. Acoustically, the venue is considered one of the best in Australia, with the design overseen by the New Zealand acoustician Sir Harold Marshall.

The concert hall was opened on Australia Day (26 January), 1973. Designed by Howlett and Bailey Architects, local architectural firm, the building is constructed in the Brutalist style, making heavy use of white off-form concrete and a solid opaque interior. The main auditorium of the hall seats 1,729 people, as well as a 160-person choir gallery and a 3000-pipe organ. The building has two façades: facing north over St Georges Terrace, and facing south over the Swan River.
 

HistoricHeart-86_LR.jpg

25. Government House 1864

St Georges Terrace, Perth

Tours of Government House are offered to groups every second Tuesday at 11am. Bookings are essential. For further details visit Government House Tours

The grounds of Government House are open Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday each week from 12pm to 2pm for lunch in the grounds.  Please note that the grounds are sometimes closed for work or private functions, so we recommend calling ahead. For further details visit Government House Grounds

Historic Heart Council House

26. Council House 1961

27 St Georges Terrace, Perth

Council House was designed by two young Melbourne architects - Jeffrey Howlett and Donald Bailey - who were awarded the commission after a nationwide design competition. The walls consist of floor-to-ceiling double-glazed sealed windows in aluminium frames. One of the most distinctive elements of the building is the pattern of T-shaped sunshades placed uniformly against the four walls. 

While Council House is now regarded by experts as the best example of modernist architecture in Perth, there were periods when its future was in serious jeopardy. In the 1990s, just 30 years after its grand opening, there was a push to demolish the building because it did not fit with the State Government of the day’s vision for Perth, in particular the notion that the area around Council House and Stirling Gardens should become a ‘Heritage Precinct’. The term ‘heritage’ was being used by to describe a certain historic style of architecture, rather than recognising that modern structures can hold heritage value. There was considerable public debate over the future of the building which brought on a strongly fought campaign by architects and the community to save Council House. It was heritage listed in 2006.

For more information visit the City of Perth website
 

Historic Heart

27. The Supreme Court 1864

Stirling Gardens, cnr Barrack Street & St Georges Terrace, Perth

The Supreme Court is an excellent example of Federation
Academic Classical architectural style used for major public buildings in the early 1900s. Its formal proportions and grand scale and design represent the role of the legal system in society and respect, being the main law enforcing institution in the city. 

Construction of the Supreme Court was a major technical design achievement on a difficult site on the edge of the river in the early 1900s. The building features a dignified setting, largely concealed by dense gardens, which shield it from its public surroundings.

Historic Heart Old Court House Law Museum

28. Old Court House Law Museum 1837

Stirling Gardens, cnr Barrack Street & St Georges Terrace, Perth

Perth’s oldest building has the unique claim of being the key place where religion, education and the law were truly born in the young colony. Before the Old Court House was opened in 1837, a temporary ‘rush church’ on the corner of Hay and Irwin Streets had doubled as place of worship and court.

This tradition of multiple use was continued when Perth’s civil engineer, Henry Reveley, was tasked with designing “a suitable building as a court-house which could likewise be appropriated to the uses of a temporary church”. He drew up plans for a simple building with a distinctive Doric entrance, and construction started in 1836.

Opening on Good Friday, 24 March 1837, for worship, the Old Court House started hearing law cases the following morning. Everything from a boy charged with stealing a melon to a man suspected of murder were all held in the one place. Sometimes the school which also used the room had to be interrupted if an important case was to be heard.

From 1905 to 1964 the Arbitration Court was held there, after which it became the offices for the Law Society of Western Australia. From 1987 it has been the Old Court House Law Museum which is open to anyone who wishes to explore Western Australia’s fascinating legal past.

Words from Heritage Perth