Building Completed, 1842
The image is reproduced from a glass negative held at the Royal Historical Society of Victoria
The tender of Donovan and Crosbie was accepted for constuction of a building, to the plan of Mr O'Hagan the architect, for £1,920. the building was completed in December 1842. The first tenant was the Corporation of Melbourne (now called the Melbourne City Council) which stayed until they could move into the new Town Hall, finished in 1854.
Garryowen's 'The Chronicles of Early Melbourne', published in 1888 includes a description of the building.
The minutes of the General Committee of Management for the year of 1842 to 1843 reveal that this ambitious project had more than its share of problems, setbacks and in-house disagreements. There were several extra expenses involved with the building and membership decreased, rather than increased, owing to a financial decline in the settlement. There was no annual meeting in June of 1843, and no report printed.
Members of the Institution gathered in the hall of the new building for the 1844 Annual General Meeting, which was held in January, to commemorate the anniversary of the opening of the building. They listened as George Gilbert read from a report delivering unwelcome news, that the Institution owed more than it could pay.
Over time the financial situation improved. The meeting room was well-used, rented out to all who needed a place to meet, discuss, lecture or entertain. There were important political meetings regarding democratic rights; scientific and musical groups and associations now had a place to meet. A squatters' meeting, to discuss their concerns about tenure of their land, held in June 1844, drew a crowd so large they could not be accommodated and so the meeting was held in front of the building.