Home' Scoop Homes and Art : Insite 28 Autumn 2011 Contents 114 INSITE AUTUMN 2011
uring the first half of the 20th
century, St Georges Terrace
resembled a fi ne European-
style boulevard, lined with
elegant edwardian buildings. Its gracef ul
architecture intrinsically linked the city to
its colonial past, the wealth generated by
the 1890s gold rush and the federation era.
As a premier business address, it became
a focal point for both civic and business
powerbrokers. However, ironically, it was its
prestige that contributed to its destruction.
In the 1960s and 1970s, a powerf ul
confluence of forces – a mining boom,
which brought unprecedented economic
growth; inadequate planning policies and
legislative protection; and a dominant
modernist aesthetic – eventually led to
the transformation of St Georges Terrace
into what many saw as an ‘Americanised’
conglomerate of look-alike skyscrapers.
For some, like antiques dealer and
heritage activist Les Lauder, the demolition
of such beautiful heritage buildings was
unforgivable and, clearly, something he
still feels emotional about. “St Georges
Terrace was completely ravaged,” he says.
“The developers came in, ripped down the
buildings and put up ‘insurance offices’. It’s
not just about individual buildings, but the
loss of an entire historic precinct,” he says.
“A sense of place is tremendously
important. It’s part of our identity. We need
to know where we came from and how our
society developed. The destruction of heritage
is a sign of real immaturity. It’s like getting
rid of your grandparents. You just wouldn’t
do it.” And Les believes the loss has devalued
the city. “Perth’s Dullsville tag didn’t just
happen, it was created,” he states.
Although equally passionate, Heritage
Perth executive director Richard Offen
A renewed interest in heritage buildings is not only protecting
Perth’s past, but also ensuring that our architectural stories
continue to enrich our city streets WORDS Dale Fisher
ABOVESt Georges Terrace before World War II.
TOP Roadworks in St Georges Terrace in the 1920s.
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