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Baird Building

33-37 High St, 1901-03, with the former Athena Lodge at 35 High St, architect Cavanagh & Cavanagh, built by Richard Rennie, between two grand hotels (Orient and P&O) also designed by the Cavanagh studio, on part of lots 62, 63, facade classified 1974. Dates and purpose of the Athena Lodge are unknown, tho the Heritage Council note below suggests 1969-1975 as a possible period for its existence.

John Dowson: Installation of electric cabling, 23 September 1905, for the new tramways showing 33-37 High Street. The Baird's building ... (Old Fremantle, 2003: 175) Shops on the ground floor at the time were the Fremantle Tea Rooms and the Ark Royal Photo Co. The original bullnose iron verandah is visible.

The Athena Lodge, upstairs, access through the central door, in a 1981 photo by Sharr. The name of the building is no longer on the facade above the first floor windows.

Since the above photo was taken in 2014, the ground floor has been gutted and there are now two shops with plain glass fronts - and the facade has been painted white (it was partly cream).

John Dowson: Since opening in 1901 this building has served Fremantle well. It has been the home of Bairds Co shopkeepers, the Lumpers’ Union, oyster saloons (Lussich & Antony), art studios (Melrose), photographers (Edward Cambie and David Morris), architects (John McNeece - for many years a Fremantle councillor), the long lasting Cafe Continental (Juan Boleda), and even the offices for the Melville Roads Board. Source: John Dowson (personal communication).

In 2016 the groundfloor shopfronts are plain glass and the awning is transparent, like nothing else in the street.

The photo is from John Dowson who sent an email on the subject to members of the Fremantle Society, in which he points out that 'The new shopfronts are totally inappropriate and do nothing to reunite the bottom of the building with the elaborate stucco decoration and Corinthian columns above'. See the reference to the Society below.

Heritage Council:
Commercial Building, 33-37 High Street was designed by Cavanagh and Cavanagh and built by R. Rennie c. 1901. As Athena Lodge, alterations were carried out 1969. In 1975 the building, then offices, was upgraded and alterations were carried out.
Currently (2002), two cafes and entrance to offices above.
Two storey rendered building with highly decorative parapet including balustrade. The three tall pairs of timber sash windows are flanked by pairs of engaged Corinthian columns and have decorative stucco above and brackets below. There is pressed metal under lining of the veranda awning (probably not original), no. 33 shopfront appears original.
The place is of historic significance as an example of a commercial building in the Old Port City of Fremantle dating from the gold boom period in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. The place is a fine example of a Federation Free Classical style building, with elaborate stucco decoration above the ground floor level, that makes a significant contribution to the streetscape. The place is of social significance as evidenced by its classification by the National Trust. Awning and shop fronts are not significant.

There was a large Baird's store in Fremantle at a later date on the corner of Queen and Adelaide Streets, where the Target store currently stands.

This photo might give some idea of the inappropriateness of the current state of the dazzling white building with its gesture at a verandah and bland glass frontage at ground level.

References and Links

Article mentioning the construction of the building in 1903:
"Fremantle", The Daily News, Thursday 10 September 1903, p. 3.

Fremantle Society blog entry critical of recent renovation - with photo.

Freoview blog entry also critical of recent renovation - with photo.

Dowson, John 2003, Old Fremantle: Photographs 1850-1950, UWAP.

Heritage Council.

Roseanne Baird, Try Bairds, nd, np. Booklet, 45pp., with history of the Baird family and stores, but does not mention this building.

Garry Gillard | New: 4 September, 2015 | Now: 30 April, 2022