Philadelphia Robertson House - 36 Clarendon Street, corner George Street. EAST MELBOURNE [Walking Melbourne Building Information]
Walking Melbourne

Philadelphia Robertson House: 36 Clarendon Street, corner George Street, EAST MELBOURNE

Philadelphia Robertson House
Philadelphia Robertson House
Philadelphia Robertson House
Philadelphia Robertson House
Philadelphia Robertson House

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Building Profile

Name : Philadelphia Robertson House
Past Names : Mosspennock, Mosspennoch


Address: 36 Clarendon Street, corner George Street

Postcode: 3002

Construction Details

Built: 1882
Original use: Residential (Mansion)
Current use: Residential (Mansion)

Built in the Victorian period in the Victorian Italianate style

Notable features

Mosspennoch is a thirty-four room Italianate mansion of render on brick construction. The main front to the street is essentially a two storeyed double fronted facade with a solid arcaded verandah and balcony made up of a central entrance pavilion flanked by two segmental bows. The basic structure of arcades on square piers has superimposed over it Ionic shafts on the ground floor and a fine dentillated entablature with a central segmental pediment and Corinthian shafts on the upper floor with the same entablature developed further with a cornice on modillions. There is a balustrade at balcony level and a balustraded parapet. Further back from the street front is a wing extending to the south, now totally defaced by having a porch infill built over it. Internally the building is a complex one with modifications at various dates, related to its conversion to a private hotel and to its present use. The interior is of interest for the hallway with its timber wainscot panelling and a fairly restrained Ionic cornice, and for the library upstairs, with wainscot panelling, pediments with imitation half-timbering, timber chimney piece and bookcases capped with timber fish-scale tiling. Despite some interesting features the interior is beyond consideration as a specimen of Victorian decoration. The importance relates to the exterior of the main house, the library and entrance hall, but excludes the 1930s wing and the remaining interior.


Mosspennoch, at 36 Clarendon Street, East Melbourne, was built in 1882 for James Liddell Purves, barrister, by P E Treeby, contractor. Charles Webb was the architect. J J Purves was one of the most distinguished and colourful characters of his day. He was a leader of the Victorian Bar, a politician and the foremost member of the Australian Natives Association. His house was the largest dwelling in East Melbourne at the time, it became second only to the magnificent Cliveden, built on the adjacent site in 1887. These two mansions on the most prestigious sites in Melbourne became the centre of Melbournes social activities until the turn of the century. After Purves death the building became a boarding house, The Ritz. It was purchased by the Red Cross in 1949 and named after an early leader of that society, Philadelphia Robertson.

Architect: Charles Webb

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