Colonial Mutual Life Building (demolished) - 316 Collins Street. MELBOURNE [Walking Melbourne Building Information]
Walking Melbourne

Colonial Mutual Life Building: 316 Collins Street, MELBOURNE

Colonial Mutual Life Building
Colonial Mutual Life Building
Colonial Mutual Life Building
Colonial Mutual Life Building
Colonial Mutual Life Building

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Building Profile

Name : Colonial Mutual Life Building


Address: 316 Collins Street

Postcode: 3000

Colonial Mutual Life Building was a landmark

Construction Details

Built: 1893 - 1894
Original use: Office
Current use: Not Used or Not Applicable

Built in the Victorian period in the Chicagoesque style

Notable features

The Company wanted to erect the "grandest building in the Southern Hemisphere" and spared no expense doing so. A noted Austrian architect, Edward E. Raht, was engaged to design the building. The general contractor was David Mitchell, who had constructed many other fine Melbourne buildings. Four years and four months elapsed between the first contract for excavations, in November 1891, and the buildings opening by the Governor, Lord Brassey, in March 1896. The foundation stone was laid in March 1893.

Raht opted for an Americanised Renaissance style for the building. For such a mammoth construction, he wanted traditional materials in vast quantities, so contracts were let for local granite and imported marble. Like a palace, the building was supposed to last forever, so innovative construction techniques were needed to lift and lock together the giant granite blocks. When completed, the building rose to a height of 138 feet, with seven stories, and dominated the streetscape.


Architect: Edward E. Raht

Related Links :
Museum of Victoria - CML outdoor exhibit

This building has been destroyed (1960)

The Equitable Company occupied the building until 1923, when it was sold to the Colonial Mutual Life Assurance Society Ltd.ed. The new owners paid £280 000, less than half of the original total cost. Despite its status however, by the late 1950s the building was becoming uneconomic. While structurally solid, its very lavishness, especially its high ceilings, was its doom. Experts, including the National Trust, were consulted but, despite the buildings grandeur and opulence, it was not considered worthy of preservation. In July 1959, CMLs call for tenders for demolition was won by Whelan the Wrecker; by the end of 1960 the landmark building had gone. The contents of a copper time-capsule uncovered during the demolition were returned to the New York headquarters of the Equitable Life Assurance Company.

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