September 26, 2019
Explore the history of the Elsternwick Post Office building
Standing proudly on Glen Huntly Rd, the former Elsternwick Post Office building has served the people of Elsternwick Village for more than 120 years.
Anyone taking a stroll down Elsternwick’s favourite shopping strip is set to pass this grand heritage building on the corner of Glen Huntly Rd and Riddell Pde, taking in its imposing red-brick and decorative trim facade.
The two-storey property was first built by Herbert H. Coulson in 1891 under the design and direction of the Public Works Department, according to Heritage Council Victoria (HCV).
The property was set on a bluestone plinth with an ornate facade featuring cement dressings.
The post office complex originally featured a public lobby, telegraph and sorting offices, hall, dining hall, kitchen and stores on the ground floor.
Upstairs, the building comprised residential quarters including two bedrooms, a sitting room, a servants’ room and bathroom.
Post office operations
When the new building opened, the postal district for Elsternwick was extended to parts of St Kilda and Caulfield.
More than 79,000 postal items were being handled by the Elsternwick Post Office by 1906, with this figure growing to more than 150,000 by 1910, according to the Elsternwick Historic Walking Tour app.
The post office ceased operating from the building in the 1980s, when the service was relocated to nearby Carre St.
These days, the building is occupied by Capezio Dancewear, The Reflexology Studio and John Marks & Associates, while the adjacent former Caulfield City Rifle Club is home to Bang Bang at the Rifle Club.
The former rifle club was built in 1915 as one of three miniature ranges constructed in the area around this time.
Elsternwick Post Office’s historical significance
The design of the building is important as one of the early and largely intact examples of the ‘Queen Anne’ style that was imported from England to Australia circa 1885.
The style, now often referred to as Federation style, was known for its use of red-brick and stone or stucco dressings, as well as its steep proportions.
Other style characteristics include dominant roofs with hipped and gabled forms, in addition to tall chimneys and dormers, which are roofed structures that often contain windows.
According to HCV, Elsternwick’s former post office building was a notable stylistic innovation at the time.
Today, the building remains historically important because so many other examples of this style have been destroyed, mutilated or painted over during the years.
The former post office was also important to the community as a symbol of aspiration for the then developing suburb.
At the time of its construction, Elsternwick stood as a small community that had grown around the Elsternwick Railway Station, which was built in 1959.
The former Elsternwick Post Office building is now part of the bustling Elsternwick Village shopping precinct and its busy retail, business and dining scene.