Open House Melbourne 2023
Treasure Hunt

Lovell Chen’s Treasure Hunt

Open House Melbourne 2023 has arrived! As ever, there are a number of Lovell Chen-connected buildings and places. This year we have also created a self-guided Treasure Hunt in the CBD (city centre). It’s a family-friendly way to discover some of the ways Melbourne has changed as it has grown and take a closer look at some very interesting buildings.

OPEN HOUSE MELBOURNE : 29 + 30 July 2023
MAP WITH SUGGESTED ROUTE (approx 1.5 hours) available all weekend
FROM : Open House Melbourne Info Hub, outside Melbourne Town Hall, Swanston Street
OR : Download map now >

So, get yourself a map — the questions are on the back — and get hunting!

Share your pics on Instagram, using the tag #LovellChenTreasures

And here are all the answers (no peeking!) …

1 | 328 Swanston Street
State Library of Victoria

Answer … This plan of the building indicates which walls are clad in stone and which are not.
State Library of Victoria

2 | 300 Queen Street
Former residence

300 Queen StreetAnswer … After the discovery of gold in Victoria in 1851, the city grew rapidly and many early residential dwellings were replaced by larger, more substantial buildings.

300 Queen Street was sufficiently robust to support the addition of a third level in 1858, and in following decades of economic boom and downturn it is likely that its size, location, and capacity for adaptation all contributed to its survival.
image source : Google Street View

3 | 15 Sutherland Street, corner of Guildford Lane
Former Buck’s Head Hotel stables

Guildford Lane Sutherland StreetAnswer … Bluestone is all around you. Look at laneways, paving, kerbing and gutter stone all over the city. It’s the main building material for the Old Melbourne Gaol and St Patrick’s Cathedral, and you’ll see it forming the lower level of public buildings such as Parliament House, the Old Treasury Building and Melbourne Town Hall. Bluestone also hides underground as footings for even more buildings.
photo : Peter Glenane

4 | 283-285 Elizabeth Street and 352-362 Lonsdale Street
Mitchell House

Mitchell HouseAnswer … Mitchell House has a curved presentation to the intersection of Elizabeth and Lonsdale streets, but if you look closely you’ll see that only the solid bands between the glazing are rounded, whereas the windows take the corner in steps! At each floor nine window panes create the illusion of curved glass.
image source : PeterMLawrence, CC BY-SA 4.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

5 | 63-67 Hardware Lane and 23-31 Niagara Lane

Niagara LaneAnswer … The movement of goods between the street and the upper floors was facilitated by external hoists on protruding crane beams. You can see them near the roof line.
photo : Lovell Chen

6 | 195 Elizabeth Street
Former gold broker’s office and oyster saloon

195 Elizabeth StreetAnswer … During the early 1850s, Elizabeth Street and its northwards extension became the start of the route to the goldfields. Businesses established along the street catered directly to new arrivals who were heading to the diggings.
photo : Lovell Chen

7 | 314 Bourke Street
Myer Bourke Street

Myer Christmas windowsAnswer … The Myer Christmas windows
image source : Herald Sun

8 | 335 Bourke Street
Royal Arcade

Gog and MagogAnswer … Gog and Magog
image source : National Archive of Australia itemID11795620-1980

9 | 90-120 Swanston Street, on the footpath close to Little Collins Street
Larry La Trobe statue

Larry La TrobeAnswer … A dog
image source : City of Melbourne via Twitter

10 | 191 Collins Street
Regent Theatre

Regent Theatre projectionAnswer … The Regent was built as a cinema and was the flagship of Hoyt’s Theatres — although from the outset it was intended to include facilities for live entertainment on stage, in accompaniment to the movies.

This photo shows equipment in the film projection room in 1948.
photo: Lyle Fowler … image source : State Library of Victoria

11 | 194 Flinders Street
Metropolitan Gas Company

194 Flinders StreetAnswer … 14
photo : Lovell Chen

12 | 181-187 Collins Street
Former Theosophical Building

Theosophical Society BuildingAnswer … A serpent or snake

Theosophical Society seal

image source (building) : State Library of Victoria
image source (seal) : Frater5 (probable main designer of original emblem, Madame Blavatsky, died 1891), Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

13 | 200-202 Little Bourke Street
Num Pon Soon Society Building

Num Pon SoonAnswer … From the street you may be able to see panels with Chinese characters; suspended timber-framed etched glass lanterns at the first floor loggia; and a flower-pattern central glass window on the upper floor.
image source : courtesy The Victorian Heritage Register

14 | 210 Lonsdale Street
Queen Victoria Women’s Centre

Queen Victoria Women's CentreAnswer … At the time good ventilation (fresh air) was a health treatment, so openable windows and deep verandahs capable of accommodating beds appeared in hospital design.
photo: Shannon McGrath
historic photo : State Library of Victoria

A | 208 Spencer Street
Overhead Water Tank at the former Spencer Street Power Station

Water Tank Spencer StreetAnswer … 5 panels x 14 panels

You’ll be able to see that the tank is five panels wide but to calculate that it is 14 panels long you’ll need to trust that the prefabricated panels are consistently sized (they are!).

B | 472-478 Bourke Street
Equity Chambers, now Hilton Melbourne Little Queen Street

Equity ChambersAnswer … Through the central glass entry doors you’ll find the original bronze, glazed tenancy board, incorporating the inscription Equity Trustees Coy. This Company was Established in 1888.

More on Equity Chambers
photo : Lovell Chen

C | 464-466 Collins Street
Collins House

Collins HouseAnswer … C
image source : courtesy Ironfish Real Estate, via Google

D | 477 Collins Street
The Olderfleet Clock

Olderfleet ClockAnswer … This excerpt from Lovell Chen’s 2014 conservation management plan for 477 Collins Street explains the story …

In a somewhat farcical fashion, the ‘clock’ wrote to The Age soon after its disappearance congratulating itself on “escaping the possible fate of ending up on a developer’s living room wall” and advised it “would not be returning’ to the Olderfleet”.(1)

The clock remained hidden during uncertainty surrounding the redevelopment of the site. Following negotiations with the Historic Buildings Council, and after a public appeal by the site’s developer, Becton, the clock was reportedly ‘satisfied’ with the restoration works and returned by its ‘self-styled guardian’ in January 1985.(2)

As the ‘clock’ recalled:
“Four years ago … I escaped from the horror of the Olderfleet/Rialto penitentiary. Since that fateful day in 1981, I have lived out of a worn suitcase … My life on the run made me suspicious of every stranger, every knock on the door, and every idle construction worker … Good people of Melbourne, it is now obvious that certain developers can work in conjunction with the HBC and provide for both their own and the council’s interest. Nowhere is such a harmonious building more obvious than the Olderfleet complex in Collins Street.”(3)

(1) The Age, 3 February 1981, p.2
(2) Sun, 17 November 1984, in National Trust of Australia (Victoria), Building File B0469 (3)
(3) My life on the run, letter from ‘Olderfleet Clock’, January 1985, provided by Urbis
image source : PeterMLawrence, CC BY-SA 4.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

E | 400 Flinders Street
Immigration Museum, former Customs House

Immigration MuseumAnswer … This site fronted the furthest navigable point of the Yarra River — see surveyor Robert Hoddle’s 1837 plan of Melbourne (Museums Victoria). The Customs Department was responsible for ensuring that duties were paid on all goods brought into Melbourne and from this location government officers were able to easily gain access to inspect cargo.
image source :

F | 425 Collins Street
Former AMP Building

AMP BuildingAnswer … Emblems for each of the Australian states surround the ground floor windows.
photo : Lovell Chen

G | 1 Queen Street
Former Fletcher Jones store

Fletcher JonesAnswer … The Plus 8 trouser was a very popular Fletcher Jones style. These were cut with an additional 8 inches of cloth into the drape.
image source : Fletcher Jones building in 1956,

H | 124-144 Lonsdale Street
Wesley Place

Wesley PlaceAnswer … The School House originally featured segregated classrooms for boys and girls accessed by separate entries. A similar intention may also be reflected in the two separate external bluestone stairs leading to the first floor. See >
photo : Trevor Mein

I | 163 Spring Street
Princess Theatre

Princess TheatreAnswer … An apostrophe

More on Princess Theatre
photo : Jenny Bolis

J | 46-74 Flinders Street and 2-8 Exhibition Street
Former Herald & Weekly Times Building, now Herald Living apartments

Herald & Weekly TimesAnswer … These are radio masts. The radio antenna was a vertical wire suspended from a cable between them.
image source : NearMap

Open House Melbourne

Lovell Chen acknowledges that this tour takes place on the lands of the Wurundjeri people, who have been custodians of this land for thousands of years. We acknowledge their stories, and connection to land, water and culture, which is embedded in Country. We pay our respects to their elders past and present.

The map

Lovell Chen Treasure Hunt

Treasure Map of Melbourne’s Hoddle Grid
with questions on the back

Includes suggested self-guided walking route (approx 1.5 hours) and some extra locations of interest.

Download now >

Open House Melbourne