Fremantle Stuff > buildings >
Atwell Buildings, 1895-1929, occupy most of the northern side of the High St Mall.
Atwell Buildings in 1985 photo #E000237, Skip Watkins, courtesy Fremantle City Library Local History Collection.
Atwell Buildings, 112-122 High Street was completed between 1895 and 1929, by architect John McNeece, a two storey commercial building which is now part of the Mall. The new building replaced an older house and shop. In 1898, J. H. Pellew, draper, occupied the shop and rooms on High Street. In 1903 Henry Atwell and E. Atwell bought the building and leasing the shop to Pellew and in 1906 other buildings were replaced and incorporated into the existing long facade. In 1929 the arcade was constructed and Sarah Phoebe Atwell became sole owner. In 1979 Atwell's arcade was renovated. Much of the 1905 shopfront remained unaltered. In 1985 when an application was made to construct a new front to Pellew's drapery the application was refused by Council. Pellew's went out of business in the 1990s. In 2002 the building comprised various commercial and retail outlets. Culley's, a tea rooms in the building, serving Fremantle since 1925 was a Heritage Festival award winner - (Significant contribution to Fremantle's Heritage by an individual or group), 2009.
SLWA photo, Nixon photo, 1929, call no. 007103D, of what is now the High Street Mall with Manning buildings on the left, Atwell buildings on the right, with Pellews and Culleys, and the National Hotel in the middle distance. (Click/tap.) Nixon was only fifty metres away from his studio in William Street.
Two storey painted English Bond brick corner building with Atwell Arcade extending around and through to Cantonment Street. The facade has a simple parapet and a decorative pediment where 'AD 1895' appears in stucco; 'Atwell Buildings' appears below, in the parapet. Engaged pilasters divide the building into bays. The timber double hung sash windows are surrounded by aedicules with engaged balustrade below. There is a verandah awning, which is probably not original.
Statement of Significance
The Atwell Buildings (known as Pellew's Drapery) have historical significance as the businesses they housed were run by the same family for many years, contributing to the commercial development of central Fremantle. The place is of historic significance as an example of a commercial building in the Fremantle Town Centre dating from the early decades of the twentieth century. The place is a fine example of a Federation Free Classical style building, with elaborate stucco decoration above the ground floor level, that makes a significant contribution to the streetscape. The place is of social significance as evidenced by its classification by the National Trust. Awning and shop fronts are not significant.
Atwell Buildings, 112-122 High Street was completed between 1895 and 1929, by architect J. NcNeece, a two storey commercial building which is now part of the Mall. The new building replaced an older house and shop. In 1898, J. H. Pellew, draper, occupied the shop and rooms on High Street. In 1903 Henry Atwell and E. Atwell bought the building, leasing the shop to Pellew and in 1906 other buildings were replaced and incorporated into the existing long facade. Heritage Council.
Thanks to Mingor for the 2016 photo.
In 1929 the arcade was constructed and Sarah Phoebe Atwell became sole owner. In 1979 Atwell's arcade was renovated. Much of the 1905 shopfront remained unaltered.
This is what the Atwell Arcade looked like before the 2016 renovations. The photo was taken by Elizabeth Cox in 1987 at the time of the Americas Cup defence: whence the decorations. Thanks to the Library for photo #LH005342. The Library also notes: 'In 1929 the arcade shops were constructed. The arcade is built on the site of former livery stables.' The photographer was looking towards the High Street end: the counter of Culley's Milk Bar (in the next photo) may be seen in the distance.
A view of the entrance to the tea rooms and the milk bar counter of Culleys, from Atwell Arcade [looking towards High Street]. The milk bar first opened about 1932. Photo Skip Watkins 1990, Fremantle City Library Local History Collection #2754.
The Cantonment Street facade of Atwell Buildings in 1985, Fremantle City Library Local History Collection photo #E000115 by Skip Watkins, 1985. That's the Commercial Club to the left. Pellows had facades in both High and Cantonment Streets.
This is what the arcade looks like now, looking towards the Cantonment St end. The lifts giving access to upper floors are in the dark on the right. The arcade wasn't fully open when I took the photo.
The West Australian, Monday 20 May 1895: 5:
NEW BUILDINGS AT FREMANTLE.
A most noticeable feature in the progress of Fremantle at the present time is the large number of new shops and residences which are in course of construction in the main street in order to meet the growing requirements of the town. The old corner block opposite the Town Hall, which many residents will remember as once having been the site of the old council chambers, is being rapidly demolished in order to make way for a row of two-story [sic] shops more in keeping with the times. The new buildings will have a frontage to High-street of 120ft., and comprise four shops with storerooms upon the ground floor. The first floor will be allotted to show and dwelling rooms. The shops are all of large size, being 28 x 35 in the clear, and the largest one at the corner will have as much as 38ft. frontage to the street. Particular attention has been paid to the windows, some of which will be among the largest in the colony. Each window will consist of one sheet of glass, unbroken by any transome or mullion, thus affording special advantages to soft-goods men, whose goods may be dressed to the ceiling and still be clearly in view of the public. The large shop will have a frontage of 38ft., has three bays of glass, with tiled entrances between, and by this arrangement there will be nearly 50ft. of glass fronting High-street. The elevation has been designed in a conventional manner, similar to that so much in vogue in Melbourne during the great boom, and should therefore be of the most modern and approved style. The whole front is to be built of imported bricks, tuckpointed in black and finished with Doric columns, entablature and pediments worked in "Atsena" cement, the windows also being ornamented with pediments and ornamental dressings of the same material. The cornices will be boldly outlined and enriched with foliated medallions, the whole being surmounted with well proportioned balustrading and panelled pediments culminating in a larger pediment enriched with designs for the modeller to execute. In the panels with which the front will be adorned a new feature will be introduced. All the panels are to be set with ornamental glazed tiles, which should produce a happy relief in the well toned mouldings of cement. The cement work is all to be coloured in imitation of rich tinted sandstone, and in fact the whole front is designed to present to the eye a desirable combination both of shade and colour. The drawings and construction are in the hands of Mr. P. J. Wilson, A.R.V.I.A., architect, the contractor being Mr. W. Reynolds, of Fremantle. The work is being carried out for Mr. H. Atwell, and when completed will cost about £2,500. The West Australian, Monday 20 May 1895: 5.
The West Australian, Saturday 1 July 1933: 6:
A contract has been let by Messrs. Oldham, Boas and Ednie-Brown, architects, to Areus Ltd., for the reconstruction of the High-street fronts of Atwell’s arcade, Fremantle. The work, which will cost about £2,000, comprises the modernising the whole of the frontage to High-street, and diverting the entrance to make a more direct line through to Cantonment-street, necessitating the reconstruction of approximately half of the present arcade. The shop fronts will be carried out in nickel finish, with tiled bases and piers and there will be additional and larger shops. The main walk of the arcade will be formed in terrazzo marble. An. effective electric lighting system has been evolved, and generally the work will be an advantage to this part of Fremantle. The West Australian, Saturday 1 July 1933: 6.
Fremantle Herald, 8 October 2016: 3.
Hutchison, David 2006, Fremantle Walks, Fremantle Arts Centre Press: 153-154.
Garry Gillard | New: 25 July, 2016 | Now: 11 August, 2022