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    Grace Park prize design, 30 June 1884, courtesy of State Library of Victoria.


(3122, 6 km E, Boroondara City)

Amalgamated with the cities of Kew and Camberwell in 1994 as part of the new City of Boroondara, Hawthorn had been a municipality since 1860 and a city since 1890. The suburb is bounded by Burke Road, Barkers Road, Gardiners Creek, and the Yarra River. Pastoralist John Gardiner first surveyed the area in 1837. From 1843 land sales were carried out in Hawthorn township, the area just east of the Yarra River near the Church Street and Burwood Road intersection. Houses surviving from that time include James Pinnock's Gothic Revival bluestone house at 5 Creswick Street (1845), and James Palmer's Burwood Park, now known as Invergowrie, at 21 Coppin Grove (1846).

Speculation on land purchases increased during the gold rush as the area attracted travellers stopping over in establishments like the Governor Hotham (1855) and Hawthorne hotels (1852). The sale of village blocks in 1852, further subdivision of land into agricultural blocks, and the gathering of retail traders along Glenferrie and Burwood roads, transformed the scattered pastoral society into a settled community. The extension of the railway from Burnley to Hawthorn, first in 1861 and then in 1882, accelerated residential subdivision and the growth of a commuter middle class. Hawthorn expanded rapidly during the 1880s land boom when grand Victorian houses built in subdivisions like the Grace Park Estate spoke of a well-to-do suburb. High rates of home ownership, a plethora of independent schools (including, from 1916, Scotch College), grand churches, and prominent sporting clubs such as the Grace Park Tennis Club, consolidated Hawthorn's status as a select address. Yet the outstanding opulence of residences like John Beswicke's Rotha in Harcourt Street was still the preserve of a minority. By the 1880s working-class families lived in single-fronted, wood-blocked cottages on low-lying subdivisions like those forming Melville, Smart, Barton and Connell streets. Many worked in Hawthorn's clay brickworks found principally in Auburn, east of the village and around the lower parts of Gardiners Creek. Hawthorn bricks referred to as 'pinks', 'blacks' and 'browns' adorned the polychromatic fa├žades of many local houses. During the depression, residential sections of Hawthorn were equally as run-down as those in determinedly working-class Richmond across the Yarra River.

Transport played a significant role in developing Hawthorn as a dormitory suburb during the 1880s and again in the 1920s in the second wave of residential expansion. Transport was also important in consolidating the suburb's main retail centres. At the turn of the century Burwood and Glenferrie roads were Hawthorn's dominant manufacturing and retail strips, with development at the intersection creating a hub of civic life with such notable buildings as the Hawthorn Town Hall (1890), the Catholic Church of the Immaculate Conception, consecrated in 1869, and the still popular Glenferrie Hotel (1888).

In 1913, however, the extension of the electric tram service from St Kilda to Kew Junction saw Glenferrie Road supersede Burwood Road as the suburb's commercial and entertainment precinct. The encroachment of Swinburne Working Men's College and businesses such as Truscott's Pram Factory also made Burwood Road less viable as a retail centre. By the 1930s Hawthorn had 175 factories providing much-needed employment. Businesses like Fowlers Vacola bottling company, Mica Products and Eagle Mills took advantage of unrestricted land close to the city and the handy supply of women and girls who could be employed for piecework.

Hawthorn's plentiful parks and gardens consolidated the suburb's role as one of Melbourne's leafy eastern suburbs and provide important community spaces. Commemoration of civic and national events, such as Empire Day and Anzac Day, were frequently held at the Glenferrie Sports Oval. During World War II the ground became the suburb's training centre for rescue teams and the Red Cross. It was once home of the Hawthorn Football Club which dominated the Victorian Football League with four premiership wins in the 1980s.

In the 1980s council and residents viewed with alarm the extensive flat development that had been permitted on subdivided blocks in Hawthorn after World War II. Preservation of historic streetscapes and individual buildings became a political issue driven partly by market forces and the growing interest in local history. The suburb's still substantial Victorian and Edwardian building stock was now highly prized and house prices rose with the demand for 'old world charm'. From the 1990s parking congestion and the redevelopment of Hawthorn's landmark sites combined to make planning an ongoing and contentious community issue.

Vicki Peel

Peel, Victoria, Deborah Zion, and Jane Yule, A history of Hawthorn, Melbourne University Press in association with the City of Hawthorn, Melbourne, 1993. Details