Heritage is about the things from the past which
are valued enough today to save for tomorrow.

Saunders Building

Saunders Building was built in 1892 for the Silver Pan Confectionery Company. The site comprised a single storey shop fronting Wellington Street and a separate factory building to the rear. By 1900, the factory at the rear housed the printing works for Frederick Vosper’s Sunday Times.

In 1910, the lease was taken over by John Saunders, a draper from Kalgoorlie, who finally purchased the property in 1919. The Saunders family operated Western Australia’s most prominent menswear business from the premises until the early 1980s. Several changes were made to the building over the years, including the addition of a second floor and an extension to the rear in the 1950s.

Detailed Description

Saunders Building was built in 1892 for the Silver Pan Confectionery Company. The site comprised a single storey shop fronting Wellington Street and a separate factory building to the rear. By 1900, the factory at the rear housed the printing works for Frederick Vosper’s Sunday Times.

In 1910, the lease was taken over by John Saunders, a draper from Kalgoorlie, who finally purchased the property in 1919. The Saunders family operated Western Australia’s most prominent menswear business from the premises until the early 1980s. Several changes were made to the building over the years, including the addition of a second floor and an extension to the rear in the 1950s.

The current form of the historic Wellington and William Street precinct was established in the last two decades of the 19th century. The first two buildings were the Globe and Royal hotels. In 1892, the Silver Pan Confectionery Company built a shop and factory which was taken over by Frederick Vosper as the printing works for his Sunday Times in 1897.

A set of shops (now demolished) was constructed on the corner of William and Wellington streets for Wesley Maley in 1897. In the 1880s and 1890s, the land along William Street to the corner of Murray Street was occupied by a series of single-storey shops. The only building from this period remaining on this section is the two-storey Commercial Building, 132 William Street, which was constructed c. 1899 for Harriett Mitchell.

Between 1895 and 1900, Sir George Shenton replaced all the earlier buildings (shops and residences) between Murray and Hay streets with retail and commercial premises. On the southern section to the corner of Hay Street were G. & E. C. Shenton & Co.’s shops and warehouse. A series of shops with office tenancies above were constructed along the remainder of William Street and around the corner into Murray Street.

Long term tenants of 98-98 Wellington Street were drapers and clothiers, Cox Brothers. On the opposite side of the road, the large retail and commercial complex known as Queen’s Buildings was built c. 1899, a site previously occupied by smaller shops. Over Hay Street was the double storey Gordon’s Café and Hotel, which would later be adapted into the Wentworth Hotel in 1925.

Wellington Buildings, on the corner of William and Wellington Streets, was built for Harry Higham in 1910. Designed by Oldham and Cox, the three-storey retail and commercial building followed the streetscape detailing established by the buildings constructed pre-1900 and replaced a series of shops built on the site in 1897.

As in the wider metropolitan area and throughout the state, world and local events impacted on the development of the Perth central area between the two World Wars. The

Great Depression of the late 1920s and early 1930s had a tremendous impact on the growth of the state’s economy following World War I, which resulted mainly from the expansion of the agricultural industry. In turn, the slow recovery from the Depression was halted by the outbreak of World War II in 1939.

Although building activity during this period was generally quiet, several new structures were constructed in central Perth. Their Art Deco architecture reflected the phases outlined above and the culture of the time. A small area in William Street underwent rebuilding during this period. Maclaren’s Chambers and Barkers Buildings on the eastern side of William Street between Wellington and Murray Streets were built for members of the Mitchell family in 1925. Both buildings replaced a series of four single storey shops that had been built in the 1890s.

On the opposite side of William Street on the corner of Hay Street, the Wentworth Hotel replaced the earlier Gordon’s Café & Hotel. A photograph dated c. 1940 shows that buildings on Wellington Street had single-storey canopies at first floor level, except for Baird’s Building at 493 Wellington Street, the adjacent Globe Hotel and the Royal Hotel, which all had double storey verandahs. By this time, the forecourt of Perth Railway Station was bituminised and there were groupings of palm trees down the centre of Wellington Street.

Photographs of William Street looking towards the Swan River from the same time show single storey canopies to all the buildings along both sides of the street within the study area. The only exception was Wellington Buildings, which had a single storey verandah over the footpath, which complemented the double storey verandah of the Royal Hotel opposite.

Location