John Beswicke was one of Melbourne’s most renowned architects, designing prolific buildings between the late 1800s and early 1900s. Beswicke can be credited for many commercial and residential buildings, including ‘Beswicke Building’ on Brunswick Street in Fitzroy and ‘Rotha’ where Beswicke resided with his family in Harcourt Street Hawthorn.
Beswicke attended Geelong Grammar School and began an architect apprenticeship with Crouch and Wilson in 1862. He worked there for 18 years before the partnership between Crouch and Wilson dissolved – from there, he went into partnership with Ralph Wilson. Over the years, Beswicke worked in other partnerships, including Beswicke and Hutchins, Beswicke and Coote and as a solo architect.
Over his career, Beswicke designed some 300 buildings in the Melbourne area ranging from residences, banks, churches, commercial buildings, hotels, shops and town halls. The town halls are arguably some of his most notable works, including Brighton, Hawthorn, Essendon, Malvern, and Dandenong town hall.
Beswicke designed 15 grand buildings in the Hawthorn area – many of which were for his family. Fourteen of these buildings are still standing today. Three of these buildings are located at 5,7 and 9 Yarra Street, Hawthorn. Each house possesses Beswicke’s signature style, including distinctive corner turrets and square ‘candle snuffer’ roofs.
These historic properties are particularly important to us as we have designed two of the gardens. We have just begun designing 7 Yarra Street and only last week wrapped up construction at number 5. It’s always a great pleasure to design gardens to complement homes with rich history, but working with two Beswicke homes is something extraordinary.