The Urban Image Thread


Hall of Famer
May 25, 2015
Fremantle, Western Australia

Marich Buildings, 20-28 Henry Street, Fremantle – Australian Heritage Sites
by Andrew Priest, on Flickr

This photograph continues my social history project documenting both the mundane and the interesting in the City of Fremantle and surrounding areas through the medium of Waymarking. The image was taken in April 2020.

The place is of historic significance as an example of a commercial building in the Old Port City of Fremantle dating from the gold boom period in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century (c. 1897). The place is significant because, when viewed from the street, it is a substantially intact example of a commercial building which contributes to the very significant Old Port City of Fremantle.

The earliest building recorded on this site is the Royal Hotel in 1844. Prior to 1884, there was a single-storey stone shop/residence on High Street frontage; there was also a stone building of similar vintage constructed fronting onto Henry Street. The site was redeveloped with shops and rooms on the ground floor level and offices on the first floor. The building was also known as the Rialto Chambers for many years.

The Brockman family owned the property from 1880 until 1948/49 when it was bought by Nicholas Marich, after whom the building is named. Nicholas (Nikola) Marich migrated to Western Australia from Yugoslavia in 1909 working in Kalgoorlie on his uncle's freshwater condensor and at nights washing dishes in hotels and restaurants. Marich put himself through night school learning to speak English proficiently. In 1917 he enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force, serving in the 11th Infantry Battalion during World War I. Upon his return from the war Marich settled in Spearwood, establishing a vineyard and supplying wine to fellow settlers in the area. Marich also worked as a court translator and was the first Yugoslav consul for Western Australia, a position he held from 1930 until 1944. The building remained in the Marich family until 1991.

In 1994 alterations to the building were carried out by Ralph Hoare Architect.

In 1999 the owners, Dunross Enterprises Pty Ltd, were awarded a $15,000 grant to fund a conservation plan of the building. In 2006 the City of Fremantle refused an application by Dunross Enterprises to develop a 5-storey hotel/apartment complex behind the Marich Buildings. A subsequent appeal to the State Administrative Tribunal was dismissed with the Tribunal concluding that in "an area of such high heritage value, a cautious approach was required", and that the 5th level and two-storey balconies were "not acceptable".

Another development proposal was put forward in 2016 for a three-storey building. Where this proposal is at is unclear but in late 2019 the owners had started a program of sandblasting the façade. The work remains unfished.

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