Number 9 Collins Street Melbourne is the Grosvenor Chambers building built in 1887-1888 by architect Oakden, Addison & Kemp for the Scottish decorative artist Charles Stewart Paterson. At some point in its history it also hosted the prestigious Melbourne Club and was Australia’s first custom designed studio complex, used by prominent Australian artists.
In 1976 a brazen thief stole some original stained glass windows from the Collins Street face of the building. It was claimed that these historic windows were the work of the Colonial Victorian firm of Ferguson & Urie!
“Stained glass windows stolen in city raid”
“Thieves yesterday hacked out two stained glass windows worth more than $5,000 from a Collins Street building. The building, No.9 Collins St., has been classified by the national Trust. Since it was built in 1887 it has housed such famous Australian artists as Tom Roberts, Sir John Longstaff and Albert tucker. The building is the centre of a controversy between the Trust and the owners, Colonial Mutual Life Assurance Society, who want to demolish it. A tenant of the building, photographer Mr. Eric Baylis, said he last saw the window late on Sunday night. “When I got here yesterday morning it was gone. Part of the window had been cut out of the frame, while other parts had been hacked out”, Mr. Baylis said. An authority of stained glass windows, Mr. Allan Sumner, said the windows were made by Ferguson and Urie of Melbourne in the late 1880’s. “It is a classic example of that type of work. Now it has been stolen it is irreplaceable”. He said the windows would be hard to sell. “People who know anything about glass will know that that type of work is hard to come by. What people should look for is that the margins on a couple of frames will be damaged because they have been hacked out by a knife or screwdriver”.
“ABOVE: Photographer Eric Bayliss with one of the gaps left by the stolen windows. BELOW: One of the windows before it disappeared”.
(photos from article shown together below)
The Age, Melbourne, Vic, Friday 3rd September 1976.
“Old glass windows recovered”.
“Two stained glass windows stolen from a Collins St. building last Sunday were found abandoned behind a Westmeadows church on Wednesday. The windows, made by Ferguson and Urie, of Melbourne, in the 1880’s, were lying in a paddock wrapped in blankets. Thieves removed them from their frames at the Colonial Mutual Life Assurance building last Sunday. CMLA senior property officer. Mr. A. Gray, said yesterday the windows would not be put back. ‘They are being crated for safe storage. We do not propose to put them back for the same thing to happen again”, Mr. Gray said. He said the windows did not appear to be damaged. An authority on stained glass windows, Mr. Allan Sumner, said the windows would be worth about $5,000. The CMLA building, built in 1887, has a National Trust classification”.
As Dr. Bronwyn Hughes has pointed out on her comment to this article in June 2012, it’s extremely likely that Sumner is incorrect in his observation as to who made the window. “The stairwell window for Grosvenor Chambers was designed by John Hughes and made by Brooks, Robinson & Co. The article doesn’t make clear whether it was the stairwell, but it seems unlikely that another firm would be brought in for other windows.”
This is further corroborated by an article published in April 1888 which chronicled the opening of the Grosvenor Buildings and included a significant amount of detail about the stained glass windows by the “Mr. Hughes” from the stained glass firm of Brooks, Robinson & Co.
Wikipedia: Grosvenor Chambers
Walking Melbourne: Grosvenor Chambers
Walking Melbourne blog: Grosvenor Chambers, 9 Collins Street