Clarendon Terrace, East Melbourne
Headquarters of the Sir Robert Menzies Memorial Foundation
Built in 1857, Clarendon Terrace was one of the first dwellings constructed in Clarendon Street. It is a terrace of three two-storied houses with cellars located at 208-212 Clarendon Street, East Melbourne, Victoria. The architect was Mr Osgood Pritchard and the builder was Mr Robert Huckson. Construction of the main building was in bluestone with brick dressing, whilst the main facade was stuccoed.
The building's architectural importance stems from the fine Corinthian portico supported by four giant columns rising through two stories. This feature, which is extremely rare in Victoria, gives the building the distinctive and striking facade.
Clarendon Terrace is now owned by the National Trust of Australia (Victoria) and was the scene of one of the Trust's greatest preservation battles. Classified in 1958, the property had previously suffered damage by neglect for many years. It had been placed on the State Government's Historic Buildings Register but this did not prevent it becoming a potential casualty when the owners applied to the Historic Buildings Preservation Council for a permit to demolish it in 1977. The permit was granted and the building seemed doomed. However, local residents and the National Trust recognised the architectural importance of the building and its great streetscape value and with the support of the Council of the National Trust a strong rearguard action was mounted. This culminated in the purchase of the building by the Trust, with significant financial support from the State Government.
In 1981, discussions between the National Trust and the Menzies Foundation resulted in a proposal whereby the building could not only be preserved, but could also continue to contribute to Australia's history. The Trust had no hesitation in accepting this proposal.
The Foundation agreed to meet the bulk of the restoration cost and in return, the National Trust agreed to lease Clarendon Terrace to the Foundation for a term of 45 years at a peppercorn rent, and has given the Foundation the right of first refusal of purchase if it ever decides to sell. Clarendon Terrace is now a valuable asset of the Foundation which is responsible for the maintenance of the building, the cost of which is met through the sub-rental of the northern terrace.
The central and southern terraces have been amalgamated into a single unit for the Foundation's administrative offices which are housed on the ground level whilst the upper floor provides meeting rooms for the Foundation and for hire to similar, outside organisations. The third terrace has been restored to the original style as far as practicable.