Fremantle Stuff > buildings > Davies Building

Davies Building

1905, 85-87 High St, designed by architect John McNeece, built for George Davies. the town lots - 420 and 421 - are shown to be the property of A. [presumably Alfred Alexander, as his father Alfred George had died in 1853] Davies, 1855-59 and then G.A. [George Alfred, son of Alfred Alexander] Davies, 1876-1879 - in documents held by the Fremantle City Library.


The photo shows on the right what the whole building looked like from 1905, and the left what replaced the eastern half in about 1970, when it was built for the TAB. Capture from Google Maps Streetview, 24 July 2016.

David Hutchison gives this convenient summary:

Davies Building. Nos 85-87. Erected in 1905 for G.A. Davies, a town councillor and mayor (in 1895), this property was divided in two, as part of his estate, in 1950. The eastern half, bought by the Totalisator Agency Board, was demolished in the early 1970s and replaced by the present TAB Building, which was set back to allow for the proposed widening of High Street. The western half of the original buiding remains in use for commerce and residential purposes.

All of High Street was intended at that time to have this setback, but this is the only building (or part thereof) that was demolished to bring it about, so it's a convenient demonstration of how much would have been lost to the West End streetscape if it had gone ahead.

Ron & Dianne Davidson write:

... the built environment was on the verge of destruction. In the late 1960s and 1970s most of Fremantle's councillors were determined to bulldoze the city beyond recognition in the name of progress. The city's bustling commercial axis, High Street, was to become a four-lane thoroughfare. The extravagant gold rush facades along both sides of the street would just have to go. Number 89-91 had gone already. Henry Street would link into a coastal [pp. 15-16] highway. Almost all the buildings along its east side had been purchased by Main Roads, the Metropolitan Regional Planning Authority and the Fremantle City Council and would be obliterated even though they represented, arguably, the West End's finest stretch of buildings. On the other side of Henry Street the Orient Hotel was marked for demolition to be replaced by a glass and aluminium showroom for second-hand boats. Fighting for Fremantle: 15-16.


A curious moment in architecture. The Davies building on the left is two years later than the Hicks building on the right (Anthoness, 1903). The pediment of the older building has been allowed to stand in front of the newer one. One or both must be on the property of the other by a few inches.

I'm also a bit bemused about the Davies building, as it looks as if the pediment which is in the right half of the existing building should be at the centre of a building that was one third wider. I don't suppose I'll ever find a heritage architect who could explain this. ... Update: I spoke to an architect this afternoon. He thinks it's quite possible that the missing half of the building could have had a pediment on its lefthand size the pair of the one on the extant side.

In 2019 the TAB has long ago moved out of nos 89-91 and various businesses tenant it. No. 87 High St did house The Record Finder, but that has moved west along High Street. Breaks, a coffee shop remains on the ground floor.

Heritage Council entry for 85-87 High Street. Lots owned by Davies family from 1880s. [But see the documents referred to near the top of the page: A. Davies owned the two lots at least from 1855, and possibly earlier.] Built c. 1901 [must have been no earlier than 1905] by J. McNeece replacing several cottages and shops, for George Alfred Davies, and stayed in the Davies family to 1950. George Alfred Davies was Mayor in 1895. Arthur Elvin Davies (1867-1918) was a Fremantle undertaker from 1888, Councillor 1906-1911, Roads Board 1905-1907, and a JP. 
The building was occupied by Tates Wines in 1940s, Penfolds Wines 1956-1980s. The shop front was altered in 1971 by Montague Grant Architect and in 1973 by Bennett Allen & Allen. Fremantle Wine Saloon in 1970s. Currently (2002), various retail uses.
Two storey rendered masonry and corrugated iron hipped roof building with a highly decorative façade. The parapet has an engaged balustrade with a highly decorative stucco pediment on the right side, including a face. The first floor has four stucco arched windows with multi paned casements and fanlights, there are three engaged Corinthian columns. The ground floor has an awning over the shopfronts (probably not original).

References and Links

See also: Hicks building (Wyola Club).

Heritage Council page.

Hutchison, David 2006, Fremantle Walks.

Garry Gillard | New: 24 July, 2016 | Now: 8 June, 2020