So Miss Theresa and I are engaging in mutual blogging. She’s blogging about the Great Big Sea night (all the bits that I was too bashful/restrained/euphoric/discreet/giddy/shy to write about) and I’m sitting next to her blogging about Melbourne fretwork.
She said “didn’t you already blog about Melbourne fretwork?”
And I said “only about the idea. I have’t shown them pictures! ”
And I haven’t taken 200 images of buildings in Melbourne with amazing wrought iron (which is probably what it properly is, not fretwork) not to show you some.
The fretwork just fascinates me. It’s all over the place: on almost every single house.
I wonder who made it? Was there a whole industry in Melbourne? Or was it imported?
When do all the fretwork buildings date from? I can do a reasonable guess at architecture dates in NZ and the US, but I’m not at all familiar with the architecture styles in Australia.
Theresa also pointed out to me that many of the houses around Melbourne have names. We looked at the names together and wondered what they meant. Were they named by the owners? Or by the builders?
Did the inhabitants of Pioneer House feel particularly adventurous?
Why are these houses named Stella and Loretto? Were the inhabitants from Italy and Austria, respectively? Or did the construction company just map-hop looking for attractive names? Or does it have nothing at all to do with the places? Is Stella for stars?
Did the people behind ‘Ulsterville’ come from one of the small hamlets named Ulsterville? Or did they want to commemorate their origins in Northern Ireland with a witty name (even if they didn’t manage to christen a town, at least they got a house!)?
Most of the names are either pseudo-classical or UK place names. The fretwork designs come from anything and everything. Many are Neo-Classical, a lot are sort of pseudo-Italianate, but I particularly love the ones that show an Oriental or Art Nouveau influence.
I find it so interesting that the fretwork is so prevalent in Melbourne, but so rare in New Zealand. I wonder if the damp New Zealand climate made wrought iron impractical, if they just didn’t care for the fashion, or if New Zealand was never wealthy enough. You do see a bit of wooden lacework in New Zealand, but of course it isn’t as robust, so it’s getting rarer as the years go by.