Percy Edgar Everett

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Percy Edgar Everett
Percy Edgar Everett.jpg
Born (1888-06-26)26 June 1888
Died 6 May 1967(1967-05-06) (aged 78)
Nationality Australian
Other names Joseph Everett
Occupation Architect

Percy Edgar Everett, (born Joseph Everett, 26 June 1888, died 6 May 1967), was appointed chief architect of the Victorian Public Works Department in 1934 and is best known for the dozens of often strikingly Modernist State Government institutions such as schools, hospitals, police stations and technical colleges the department produced over the next 20 years.[1]

His most well known design is the Police Headquarters at Russell Street (1940–1943), giving Melbourne “its first Gotham City silhouette”.[2] Percy Edgar Everett’s mature style was influenced by a range of Modernist sources including American Art Deco, especially Streamline Moderne, and European early Modernism, such as Expressionism, Bauhaus and even Russian Constructivism, drawn from magazines and his two trips abroad.[1]

Personal life[edit]

Percy Edgar Everett was born in Geelong, Victoria, Australia. His father, Joseph Everett was a blacksmith from England. Joseph established a coach building industry as well as building industry later on, where Percy help was required for detail aspect of the buildings.[3]

Percy received his early education in Ashby Public School, where he first tried his hand sketches. Many among his early sketches were of ship, figurehead, and the sailor, suggesting the kind of environment he was born into. Two subjects that drawn most of his attention during his study in Ashby Public School was drawing and piano lesson.[3]

His interest in drawing and his experience in building industry had led him to the path of Architecture as his first career choice, with music following as the second choice. He then enrolled in Gordon Technical College, under the new direction by George R. King as its first principal, and became the first architecture student.[3] Percy had had an experience in Architecture with W. H. Cleverdon, a Geelong architect, even before he studied in Gordon Technical Collage . He graduated 4 years later and started his first career as a graduate architect.[4]

The first company that he worked at was The Geelong Harbour Trust (1907–1910), where he got to plan and supervise his first structure, a wool store.,[4] and designed the Edwardian style Sailors Rest building on the Geelong foreshore. He then worked for the firm of Seeley & King and formed a partnership with them two years later. The Seeley, King & Everett firm was his first private practice.[5]

His firm was taken over by Laird and Buchan during a trip to Britain and Europe in 1913.[1] While still connected to Laird and Buchan, in 1914 Percy Everett opened a separate practice in Melbourne, but since there was in shortage of architectural work due to the First World War, he took up the post of Principle of the Brunswick Technical School (1916).[1]

He also continued his association with Laird & Buchan, with whom he designed the elaborate bandstand in the Johnstone Gardens, which was constructed in 1919. That same year, the association also designed the Edwardian Baroque Peace Memorial on axis with the bandstand, as well as replanning the gardens in a more formal manner.[6] The revamped park and Memorial were completed in 1926.

In 1930, like many other Australian architects during the depression, he undertook a world tour including the US and the UK, but unusually also included the USSR.[2] In 1932 he was appointed headmaster of Brighton Technical School.[1]

Two years later in 1934, Percy Everett was appointed chief architect in the Victorian Public Works Department. There he was responsible for the maintenance, but more importantly the design of the State's public buildings, such as courthouses, police stations, mental hospitals, TB sanatoriums, schools and tertiary institutions, as well as associated government employees’ residences.[1]

The style of the department, where he retained absolute control over the designs, was at first historicist, like previous PWD designs, though with modernist influences, such as his designs for the Entry Building and brick fence at the Melbourne Zoo (1935), and the Spanish style Court House and State Government Offices in his native Geelong (1937). But by the late 1930s, the department was producing dynamic modernist designs for numerous high profile public buildings, many just before or at the beginning of WWII. Essendon Technical School (1939), Camberwell Court House (1939) and the William Angliss College (1940) are considered amongst the best of this period, and are all on the Victorian Heritage Register. Influences from Dutch 1920s modernism, the German Bauhaus and even 1920s Russian Constructivism can be discerned. Notable designs influenced by the US skyscraper style include the outstanding Russell Street Police Headquarters (1940–43), the smaller New York skyscraper style Ballarat State Offices (1941). His department could also produce polite modern version of historic or domestic styles where suitable, such as 'Collegiate Gothic' for the Melbourne University Chemistry School (1938), the rustic log cabin-style Yarra Bend Gold Club house (1934), or the pitched-roof cream brick of Richmond Girls School.[2]

In 1945 Percy Edgar Everett went to North America to study recent trends in public architecture, but after WWII, the style of buildings produced under his direction did not change. As public buildings were given priority, numerous public buildings in his distinctive style, such as the TB wing at Hamilton Base Hospital (1945), RMIT Buildings 6,7 &9 (1938, 48 and 1955), Caulfield Institute of Technology (1950), and large TB Sanatoria at Heatherton and Greenvale (both now demolished)were major projects in the post war years. By then however, architectural progressives were calling for a more truly modern approach distinct from Everett's devotion to dynamic effects.

One of many governmental projects Percy Everett did at this time was the dramatic Department of Agriculture annexe to the 19th century Italianate State Government offices, built in 1948 (demolished 1997). The building housed sections for photography, films and radio units, and a small cinema, since film and radio were seen as main methods of helping farmers with education and information.[7] It also showed his interest in dominating older buildings, while at the same time responding to their layout. His additions and alterations at the Gordon Technical College and Matthew Flinders High, both in his native Geelong, also display this.

He retired as chief architect in 1953.[1]

Percy Edgar Everett had been married twice in his life. The first one is in 11 June 1924 at Mentone, Victoria, where he married to widow Georgina Buchanan Arthur, née Boyd and the second one in 26 June 1953 at Brighton, to a widow Mavis Delgany Stewart, née Richards. He had two step children. Percy Edgar Everett died at Brighton Beach, Victoria on 6 May 1967.[1]


  • Heatherton hospital, Warrig Heatherton, Australia(1945)


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Adbonline, Everett, Percy Edgar (1888 - 1967) 2006, viewed 01/04/2010
  2. ^ a b c Philip, Goad (1999), Melbourne Architecture, The Watermark Press, p. 135, ISBN 0-949284-36-X 
  3. ^ a b c The Australian Builder, The Official Journal of The Master Builders Association of Victoria, May 1950, Vol.2 no.5, p235 & p239, The Master Builders Association of Victoria, Melbourne
  4. ^ a b The Australian Builder, The Official Journal of The Master Builders Association of Victoria, Apr 1952, Vol.4 no.4, p225 & p288, The Master Builders Association of Victoria, Melbourne
  5. ^ Argus, Planner quits as dream is coming true, Melbourne, 26 June 1953
  6. ^ Argus, Chief Government Architect, Melbourne, 3 July 1934
  7. ^ Melbourne Open House, Fact Sheet 2009, viewed 08/04/2010. <$File/Treasury%20Reserve%20Fact%20Sheet%20for%20Melbourne%20Open%20House%202009.pdf>

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