Mission to Seafarers

Architect: Walter Butler

Docklands | D03

One of the earliest examples of Spanish-influenced design in Melbourne, The Mission to Seafarers buildings are unusual for combining two distinct architectural styles: Spanish Mission Revival and Arts and Crafts. Walter Butler was one of the most prominent and progressive architects of the period, and this is one of his most unusual and distinctive works.

This Spanish Revival style had become prevalent on the west coast of America, throughout California and New Mexico during the 1890s. It revived the architectural legacy of Spanish colonialism of the 18th century and the associated Franciscan missions. This style later found widespread popularity in the suburbs of Melbourne.

The adjoining administration, residential and recreational building show the influence of English domestic Arts and Crafts architecture, with its projecting gable, pepper pot chimneys and three adjoining oriel windows. Walter Butler, architect to the Anglican Diocese in Melbourne, had come to Australia with an intimate knowledge and experience of the Arts and Crafts movement and continued to use the style in his residential designs of the 1920s.

Maritime imagery is evident throughout the buildings, including stained glass windows in the chapel depicting stories of seafarers lost at sea, the pulpit in the form of a ship’s stern and the large mariner’s compass inlaid in the terrazzo floor. The chapel is notable for its fine collection of crafted joinery by Robert Prenzel, including the altar and sanctuary chairs with their carved Australian flora motifs.

Need to Know

  • Open: Saturday 10am-4pm, Sunday 10am-4pm

  • Frequency Of Tours: Self Guided

  • Building Type: Community- Mixed Use

  • Year Built: 1916-17

  • Website: http://www.missiontoseafarers.com.au/

  • Tram Stops: Stop D15: The Goods Shed/Docklands on routes 70 and City Circle

  • Photo Credit: Justine Philip


717 Flinders Street , Docklands VIC 3008

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