‘Cliveden Mansions’ after its early-20th century conversion to apartments (above); ‘Cliveden’ as Sir William Clarke’s single family home as it appeared from 1887-1909, without its top floor addition.
Just for fun, we dug up the floor plans to the now-demolished Cliveden Mansions apartment block. It’s an important piece of Melbourne real estate history, if only as an example of a style of living that never quite caught on.
Cliveden Mansions began life as Cliveden, possibly Melbourne’s largest single family home. The home was built for Sir William Clarke in 1887 and was situated at the corner of Wellington Parade and Clarendon Street in patrician East Melbourne. It’s telling that Clarke chose an established East Melbourne location for his mansion instead of the newly developing semi-rural suburb of Toorak or the seaside location of Brighton. Even his naming the mansion after a century-old (albeit rebuilt in 1851) estate in Buckinghamshire, England alludes to Clarke’s ambitions for establishing an entrenched presence amongst Melbourne’s elite.
Such ambitions were wrought in 1909 when his wife died and sold the mansion to the Bailleau family for less than a quarter the cost of its construction thirty years prior. The Bailleau family then added a fourth storey and converted the property into 48 apartments, a novel form of housing for the city’s elite. Prior to Cliveden Mansions and a small handful of inner city “bachelor’s flats”, Melbourne bore very few prestige communal dwellings. Taking its cue from New York City apartment blocks, Cliveden Mansions provided no internal kitchens for its residents. Far from a shortcoming, this trait was in fact flaunted in promotional material. Cliveden Mansions’ advertising clearly articulated:
Kitchenettes are unknown at “Cliveden” Mansions. All meals are prepared in the up-to-date kitchen presided over by a highly-accomplished French chef, and served in the diningroom [sic] by a courteous and efficient staff. The diningroom is soley for the use of tenants and their guests.
For the convenience of tenants who prefer to take morning of afternoon tea in the privacy of their suites, gas and electric heating facilities are provided, and in special cases or emergencies can be served in tenant’s apartments.
First floor floor plan (above) and the communal dining room (below).
By the end of Second World War, amenities such as a communal kitchen and a shared garage and mechanic (another Cliveden Mansions perk) were no longer seen as necessary and the ageing building saw its prestige slip. By 1967, the Bailleaus sold the by then decrepit apartment block; in 1970 it was controversially demolished to make way for a Hilton Hotel high rise.
The derelict Cliveden Mansions block two years before its demolition in 1968 (photo courtesy of East Melbourne Historical Society).
Click below for more images of apartment block and floor plans for the second and third floors.