Streets are landscapes of loss. Alongside the buildings and people who currently occupy them, the vehicles, street furniture and signage, there are ghosts of buildings that have been altered or destroyed, traces of businesses that have closed, people who have come and gone, countless variations small and large that are always in process. This is particularly evident in a walk along Chapel Street Prahran. Continue reading
Every now and then as I walk the suburban streets of Melbourne I see something that stops me in my tracks. It happened again at 282 Chapel Street, Prahran, between Princes and Walker Streets, when I glanced up and noticed a three-storey building, a bit faded and the worse for wear, but unmistakeably special. It looked as though it should have been standing on a boulevard in Paris, rather than in a Melbourne suburb, among standard Victorian two-storey shops, plastered with signage for JB Hifi, which occupies the entire ground floor.
This building’s facade was extravagant, with 17 archways looking onto the street from the second and third storeys, columns and balconies, carved eagles, and a dizzying assortment of shells and other ornamentation. Clearly, it had once been a special place – but today it’s a shadow of its former self. Continue reading