The Delights of Drummond St

Walter Scott Law’s time in Australia may have been brief but he clearly didn’t spend any time sitting still.

Born in London in 1860, by the age of 21 Law joined other young architects (like Joseph Reed and JJ Clark) and set about creating some of Melbourne’s most confident examples of neo-classical architecture.

By 1895 the great boom was over and Law, with his wife Czarina (nee Egan) and their four children, made sail for South Africa, never to be heard of again.

Two of the finest examples of Law’s work sit on Drummond St  which rises gently north from the city toward Carlton and displays the domestic wealth of the late 1800s.

The jewel in the crown Benvenuta, a Mannerist style villa, is an Italianate treasure with a colourful past.

Commissioned by the widow of a small arms dealer (read gangster?), Leah Abrahams, the Villa was built by Italian craftsman from an abundance of marble and glass imported from the home country. In later life the building became an arbitration court before being leased back to the growing local community as an Italian Club until the interruption of WWII.

Historic accounts skip over the internment of Italians during the war and jump straight to the gifting of the villa by the Commonwealth to the University of Melbourne.

Now the villa is one of the University’s smallest colleges, Medley Hall.

Benvenuta still sits like one of Saturday’s Derby Day race goers on a train – refined and ornate, still and perfect – but incongruously over dressed amongst we lesser mortals.

The classical Drummond Terrace across the road is Melbourne’s largest three story terrace and presents the more sober, frock coated side of Melbourne.

About Walter Scott Law :

Benvenuta today : Medley Hall

Walking Melbourne blog has lots of buildings detailed which might be spotted on a stroll of the city


6 thoughts on “The Delights of Drummond St

    • Thanks Cocomino – like so many things around us we stroll by often without paying much attention. So it was great to take some time to walk and really look at these amazing group of buildings. There are so many beautiful buildings just on this street I’ve kept some photos back to do a separate post on the earlier terraces.


  1. wow … that’s some cool architecture, chaz. cool essay, too … i like learning about the creators of anything creative.
    in my travels to sydney, i’ve noticed that a lot of the architecture of neighborhood homes resemble the one you’ve depicted in the 7th pic, (Drummond St. neoclassical architecture). It’s funny … a lot of the architecture you show here looks strongly like that found in New Orleans, USA., especially with the second floor terraces and the predominant use of arches.


    • Thanks Stephen – it’s true New Orleans embraced the verandah and terraces so there are similarities between the styles of architecture. I found it interesting to read that Law went on to South Africa and wonder whether his style can also now be found on the other side of the Indian Ocean.


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