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 business, as well as building business later on, for which Percy assisted with detailed aspect of the buildings.[3]

Everett received his early education in Ashby Public School. The two subjects that drew most of his attention during his time at Ashby were drawing and piano lessons.[3] It was there he first tried his hand at sketching. Among his early subjects were ships, figureheads, and sailors, suggesting the kind of environment he was born into.

His interest in drawing, and his experience in the building industry,[4] led him to architecture as his first career choice, with music as a second choice. Everett gained experience with Geelong architect W. H. Cleverdon and then became the first architecture student to enrol in the Gordon Technical College,[5] under the dynamic leadership of George R. King, who established architectural section at the college.[6] Everett graduated in 1906 and began his career as a graduate architect.[7]

Everett first worked at the Geelong Harbour Trust (1907–1910), where he planned and supervised his first structure, a wool store,[7] and also designed the Edwardian-style "Sailors Rest" building on the Geelong foreshore. He then worked for the firm of Seeley & King, forming a partnership with them two years later. Seeley, King & Everett was his first private practice.[8]

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

He also continued his association with Laird & Buchan, with whom he designed the elaborate bandstand in Johnstone Park, Geelong, which was constructed in 1919. That same year, the association also designed the Edwardian-Baroque Peace Memorial,[4] on the axis of the bandstand, as well as redesigning the park in a more formal manner.[9] The revamped park and memorial were completed in 1926.

In 1930, like many other Australian architects during the Great 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, Everett was appointed chief architect in the Victorian Public Works Department (PWD).[10] 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, tuberculosis (TB) sanatoriums, schools and tertiary institutions, as well as associated government employees’ residences.[1][11]

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).

By the late 1930s however, the department was producing dynamic modernist designs for numerous high profile public buildings, many constructed just before or at the beginning of World War II. 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) and the smaller skyscraper-style Ballarat State Offices (1941). Everett's department could also produce polite modern versions 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 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, as distinct from Everett's devotion to dynamic effects.

One of many governmental projects Everett executed 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, as well as a small cinema, because film and radio were seen as significant new methods of helping to educate and inform farmers.[12] 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 School, both in his native Geelong, also display this.

He retired as chief architect in 1953.[1]

Everett married twice. On 11 June 1924 he married Georgina Buchanan Arthur (née Boyd), a widow, at Mentone, Victoria. Following her death in 1956, he married Mavis Delgany Stewart (née Richards), also a widow, at Brighton, Victoria, on 26 June 1956. He had two step-children. Percy Everett died at Brighton Beach, Victoria on 6 May 1967.[1]


  • State Accident Insurance Office, Melbourne (1941)


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h O;Neill, Frances. "Everett, Percy Edgar (1888 - 1967)" The Australian Dictionary of Biography, 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 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 "Old Yarra Street Pier ". Geelong official website.
  5. ^ Harriet Edquist; Elizabeth Grierson (1 January 2008). A Skilled Hand and Cultivated Mind: A Guide to the Architecture and Art of RMIT University. RMIT Publishing. pp. 38–. ISBN 978-1-921166-91-4. 
  6. ^ O'Neill, Frances. "King, George Raymond (1872–1950)". Australian Dictionary of Biography. Australian National University. Retrieved 2014-06-03. 
  7. ^ 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
  8. ^ Argus, Planner quits as dream is coming true, Melbourne, 26 June 1953
  9. ^ Argus, Chief Government Architect, Melbourne, 3 July 1934
  10. ^ Robert Freestone (2009). Cities, Citizens and Environmental Reform: Histories of Australian Town Planning Associations. Sydney University Press. pp. 346–. ISBN 978-1-920899-35-6. 
  11. ^ Robert Freestone (2010). Urban Nation: Australia's Planning Heritage. Csiro Publishing. pp. 262–. ISBN 978-0-643-09698-1. 
  12. ^ Melbourne Open House, Fact Sheet 2009

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