mitchell chambers/ j masel & son/ gayne's (1902-1960)

 

The Architect

Though it was not built until 1902, the original “Sketch Plans for Gayne’s Corner” were drawn in 1896 from designs by Perth architect Thomas Benjamin Jackson for John Mitchell and his wife Harriet. It stood three-storeys tall with a tower on the corner extending to four storeys, with retail space on the ground floor and offices above.

This property, on the corner of Murray and William Streets, Perth, was in Harriet's name and one in a string of properties extending up William Street from Wellington to Murray Street, granted to the Mitchell family when they arrived in Western Australia’s early days.  

Initially known as Mitchell Chambers the first ground-floor tenants, with frontages to Barrack and Murray Streets, was J Masel and Son selling clothing, toys, jewellery and “fancy merchandise”, and for the next three decades the building was known as Masel’s. In 1932, after other, similarly-named retailers operating in Perth confused Masel’s customers, J Masel & Son changed its name to Gayne’s.

Next to Gayne’s on Murray Street was the Prince of Wales Theatre and next to that, Bairds department store.

Destruction

The magnificent tower and elaborate original facades were removed after suffering severe storm damage in early 1957. In the late 1950s the Gayne’s building and the Prince of Wales Theatre were bought by Bairds, which demolished the structures facing Murray Street in 1960 to make way for a new larger store.

In 1971 Myer Stores bought Bairds and remodelled the property, operating there until their new flagship store opened in Forrest Place in 1989. In 2002 the building facing Murray Street was demolished to make way for the Perth Underground Train Station development. The building facing Wellington Street was closed in 2003 but after asbestos removal, new tenants moved into this historic building; the Heritage Council and State Heritage Office of Western Australia.