Curtin House

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Curtin House
Melbourne 2013-Aug 057c.jpg
Former names Tattersall's Club
Tattersalls Building[1]
General information
Architectural style Art Nouveau
Address 248-256 Swanston st
Town or city Melbourne
Country Australia
Coordinates 37°48′43.2″S 144°57′54.7″E / 37.812000°S 144.965194°E / -37.812000; 144.965194Coordinates: 37°48′43.2″S 144°57′54.7″E / 37.812000°S 144.965194°E / -37.812000; 144.965194
Opened 1922
Cost £50,000[2]
Other dimensions Frontage of 81 ft 5 in to Swanston St. by a depth of 88 ft on the southern boundary and 66 ft on the north side. It has a rear frontage of 50 ft 8 in to Tattersalls Lane.[1]
Technical details
Structural system Structure of reinforced concrete (as placed by the Steel Form Supply Co P/L
Floor count 6
Floor area 21,360 sq. ft.[1]
Lifts/elevators Single lift within open cage encircled by stairs.
Design and construction
Architect Harry Norris[3]
Architecture firm Harry Norris
Civil engineer Hawkins & Bendixsen

Curtin House is a six storey Commercial Palazzo style building on Swanston Street in the Melbourne city centre, known in the 2000s as a 'vertical lane', with a range of specialist retailing, dining, and entertainment spaces occupying much of the building.


Curtin House was built in 1922 as the Tattersalls Club, containing shops on the ground floor, bar and dining room and meeting rooms on the next two floors for the Club members, who were from the horse racing world, and offices to let above.[4] It was one of the first major works of architect Harry Norris, who went on to design many important city buildings in the interwar years. The Club either disbanded or merged with another club and left the building in 1937, when their rooms were put up for lease[5] with the bar and other fitting sold off in 1940.[6] In the late 1930s and early 1940s the building housed the offices of the Victorian Branch of the Communist Party and its youth wing the League of Young Democrats. As supporters of Stalin, who had made a pact with Hitler, the CPA Australia was anti-war, and so seen as unpatriotic, and their offices and library here were famously raided on 17 June 1940 minutes after the Federal Cabinet decided to ban the party, 'seizing enough literature to fill two vans'.[7] The League of Young Democrats had been spared, but were also raided on 25 february 1941 minutes after it too was declared illegal by Cabinet.[8] By 1948 the name had been changed to Curtin House, when it was reported as become the new home of the National Secretariat of Catholic Action, which included a range of Catholic organisations and a bookshop, in the old Club rooms on the first floor.[9] It is presumed that the new name commemorated the war-time Labor Prime Minister John Curtin, who had died in office in 1945. He was a lapsed Catholic, but it is not known exactly why or when the name was changed.

The Tattersalls Club was built on the site of Nunans's Buildings[10] destroyed by fire on April 13, 1921.[11] The fire claimed one victim, Miss Gertrude K Riley.[12] Morton Parker Pimentel, director of Federation Films on the third floor, was accused of having started the fire deliberately, but the evidence was slight.[13]


Through the 1980s and 90s it was occupied by a range of business and organisations attracted by the cheap rent, such as the Genealogical Society, and eventually used for pop up exhibitions and not quite legal residential space. In 2000 it was bought by group of investors led by Tim Peach.[14] Following some restoration the rejuvenated Curtin House was leased to a range of 'creative spaces' such as the Metropolis Bookstore, Cookie Restaurant occupying the former clubroom floor, the Rooftop Cinema in 2006, [15] and the Toff in Town live music and performace venue in 2007.

Other tenants in 2017 include a family owned and operated Kung Fu academy,[16] website developers,[17]a rare record store,[18] and an architecture office.[19]


  1. ^ a b c "City building to syndicate for £145,000.". The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1956). Melbourne, Vic.: National Library of Australia. 31 March 1951. p. 14. Retrieved 29 November 2012. 
  2. ^ "TATTERSALL'S CLUB.". The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1956). Melbourne, Vic.: National Library of Australia. 29 August 1922. p. 9. Retrieved 29 November 2012. 
  3. ^ Harry A. Norris established his own architectural practice in 1919. Norris's first significant city building was the seven-storey Tattersall's Club premises (now Curtin House) at 252 Swanston Street in 1922 Pg 131. Moreland North of Bell Street, Heritage Study, Volume 2 – Heritage place and precinct citations, Final, April 2011
  4. ^ "Tattersalls Club". The Referee Sydney 8 Nov 1922. Retrieved 22 May 2017. 
  5. ^ "Shops etc To Let". The Argus. 3 Dec 1937. Retrieved 23 May 2017. 
  6. ^ "Tenders". The Argus. 9 Jan 1940. Retrieved 23 May 2017. 
  7. ^ "100 Police Raid Pemises". The Argus. 17 June 1940. Retrieved 23 May 2017. 
  8. ^ "Headquarters Raided". The Argus. 25 February 1941. Retrieved 23 May 2017. 
  9. ^ "New Offices for National Secretariat". The Argus. 29 July 1948. 
  10. ^ "Advertising.". Oakleigh Leader (North Brighton, Vic. : 1888 - 1902). North Brighton, Vic.: National Library of Australia. 16 December 1893. p. 1. Retrieved 1 December 2012. 
  11. ^ "SWANSTON STREET FIRE.". The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1956). Melbourne, Vic.: National Library of Australia. 15 April 1921. p. 7. Retrieved 29 November 2012. 
  12. ^ "SWANSTON STREET FIRE.". The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1956). Melbourne, Vic.: National Library of Australia. 16 April 1921. p. 20. Retrieved 29 November 2012. 
  13. ^ "NUNAN'S BUILDINGS FIRE.". The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1956). Melbourne, Vic.: National Library of Australia. 23 July 1921. p. 17. Retrieved 29 November 2012. 
  14. ^ Raising the Curtin, By Larissa Dubecki, April 4, 2007, The Age
  15. ^ "Rooftop cinema to add more stars to city sky". The Age. 23 September 2006. Retrieved 22 May 2017. 
  16. ^ Wing Chun Bing Fa Kung Fu Academy
  17. ^ Tundra
  18. ^ Collectors Corner
  19. ^ SIBLING

External links[edit]

Media related to Curtin House at Wikimedia Commons