Joseph Reed (architect)

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Joseph Reed
Joseph Read ca.1870-90.jpeg
Born 1823
Cornwall, England
Died 29 April 1890 (aged c.67)
Melbourne, Victoria
Nationality British
Occupation Architect
Buildings State Library of Victoria, St Michael's Uniting Church
Projects Royal Exhibition Building

Joseph Reed (c. 1823–1890), a Cornishman by birth, was probably the most influential Victorian era architect in Melbourne, Australia.[1] He established a practice, Reed and Barnes in Melbourne in 1862. The practice now known as Bates Smart is one of the oldest continually operating in the world.


Probably born in 1823 in Cornwall, England, Joseph Read arrived in Melbourne in 1853. The following year he won a design competition for the State Library of Victoria, designed the Bank of New South Wales in Collins Street and the Geelong Town Hall. In 1862 he partnered with Frederick Barnes (1824-1884).[2]

Following a visit to Europe in 1863 he was impressed by the brick architecture of Lombardy, an influence visible in the designs for the Independent Church on Collins Street, St Jude's in Carlton, the National school in Carlton, and in the Frederick T. Sargood's Rippon Lea Estate at Elsternwick. His architecture remained however eclectic, including Italianate, Classic, Gothic and Scottish baronial.[2]

In 1883 Barnes retired from the partnership and Reed was joined by A. M. Henderson and F. J. Smart. In 1890 Henderson withdrew while N. B. Taplin joined the firm. The office later became Bates, Peebles and Smart.[2]

In 1890 Reed came into financial difficulties, and died of "inanition and exhaustion", on 29 April.[2]

Architectural expression[edit]

Reed's buildings represent an impressive body of work much of which still exists today. They include the classical State Library of Victoria (1856), Collins Street Independent Church (1867), Frederick Sargood's Rippon Lea Estate (1868) and Melbourne Trades Hall (1873). In contrast to the polychrome Romanesque of Rippon Lea and the Independent Church is the stern Gothic manner of Scots' Church (1871-4) across the road; the energetic spire was for the last decades of the nineteenth century Melbourne's tallest structure. The Trades Hall is grandly palatial, the world's oldest and probably most splendid trades hall. In the fashionable Second Empire style Reed also designed Melbourne Town Hall (1870); the World Heritage-listed Royal Exhibition Building, completed for the 1880 International Exposition in Melbourne; and the now demolished Menzies Hotel (1867). Reed completed the building of St Paul's Anglican Cathedral to the designs of William Butterfield after that architect resigned the project in 1887. Reed was faithful to the original design, but provided most of the furnishings, including the elaborate pulpit.

List of works[edit]

Reed & Barnes
Reed, Henderson & Smart
Reed, Smart & Tappin
  • Mutual Store, Flinders Street (1891)
  • Metropolitan Gas Company (1892)
  • Church of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart, Carlton (1910)



External links[edit]