John James Burnet, 1904-6. 2-storey and attic, 7-bay near-symmetrical Wrenaissance bank. Polished red sandstone ashlar principal front; harled side and rear elevations; polished red sandstone ashlar dressings and details. Base course and stall-risers, cornice over shopfront articulated around porch and terminated at Ionic pilasters framing elevation, cill course at 1st floor, and deep mutuled timber cornice at eaves, articulated around central open pediment.
NE (COMMERCIAL STREET) ELEVATION: wide centre bay crowned by large semicircular open pediment, framed by panelled pilasters and fronted by canted stone porch at ground comprising architraved surround to 12-panel 4-leaf timber door with carved armorial panel in parapet above; Ionic columns flanking door, narrow windows with shouldered architraves in flanking faces. Tripartite window at 1st floor; keystone and shouldered architrave to French window at centre, margined flanking lights. Pilastered segmental-arched window in tympanum, bracketted and corniced cill and consoles supporting sub-pediment engaging principal cornice, carved strapwork flanking in tympanum. Stall-risers at ground in flanking bays (left stall-riser of lower height), architraved surround to 3-light pilastered windows engaging frieze above. Regular fenestration at 1st floor; margined windows, pilasters dividing bays with bracketted below cill course.
SE (HANGCLIFF LANE) ELEVATION: asymmetrical, 3 bays, centre bay slightly recessed, door at ground, window at 1st floor, tripartite window offset to right at 2nd floor in pedimented gable with flanking multi-flue wallhead stacks. Architraved window at 1st floor in bay at right, flat-roofed 2-storey wing advanced at bay to left; paired doors with short stylised balustrade terminating parapet to W; elevation curved down to dwarf wall fronting elevation at right, and surmounted by steel railing; railing terminated to E by panelled ashlar square pier with base and corniced cap.
NW ELEVATION: mirrored image of SE elevation but with round-arched window in gable, modern door at ground in bay to left, and bipartite window to left of door in wing advanced at right.
Modern glazing to windows at ground, 15-pane timber sash and case windows at 1st floor, 2-leaf glazed timber doors with 8-pane fanlight and 4-pane flanking lights to French door; 20-pane casement window in pediment. Purple-grey slate piended roof with finials terminating ridge, segmental-headed lead clad dormers with 16-pane timber sash and case windows. Tall harled stacks to end elevations and to W of centre bay, heavily corniced with circular cans.
Statement of Special Interest
The old Union Bank at 117 Commercial Street was built in 1873 by William Henderson, but completely destroyed by fire on the 9th May 1903. The bank moved to Ganson?s Building until 1906, by which time the construction of the new bank had been completed. A photograph of 1959 shows a chemist?s shop occupying the left hand side of the principal front. The shopfront appears to be inter-war, with a similar arrangement to the existing (low stall-riser) but with an entrance door in the centre bay. The window in the pediment is fronted by an Art Nouveau wrought-iron balcony, which is an essential part of the design. This building has all the qualities of other works by Burnet including the flamboyant use of familiar classical elements interwoven to an overall design strongly influenced by Beaux Arts and English architecture of the period, and executed in the best Arts and Crafts tradition of high quality workmanship and materials. Features particularly reminiscent of other Burnet works are the canted porch which strongly reflects the buffet recesses in his domestic work, and the open semicircular pediment, deep mutuled timber eaves, and pendant swags at the capitals. As always, Burnet responds to the location by producing a building of the first quality, and combines perfectly his lively design ability with the classical severity and scale of a provincial bank.
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