Sands & McDougall Warehouse

Sands & McDougall Warehouse

Economic good fortune touched each of the colonial capitals during the 1880s. As businesses expanded they built splendid new offices and impressive warehouses, in their home towns and in other cities. The greatest frenzy of building speculation and genuine commercial growth was in Melbourne. This unusually tall warehouse in Light Square is one local outcome of that boom.

In 1853, John Sands and Thomas Kenny bought a stationery business and set up in Collins Street, Melbourne. The firm became Sands and McDougall in 1861. (That spelling has been retained, although the key figure in the firm’s expansion from the 1870s was James MacDougall, who joined the firm around 1862.) The firm competed with imports by printing all types of stationery, with an emphasis on quality. It opened a branch in London in 1875 and in Adelaide in 1882.

The company’s Adelaide headquarters on King William Street was run by a new partner, Robert Brown Fraser. In common with other businesses the firm chose a less central site for its warehouse, but still within the limits of the city.

In the late 1880s, James MacDougall travelled to Europe and the US to assess the stationery market and came back to Australia with plans for an ambitious building program for the company. As a result, it built the massive six-storey building in Spencer Street, Melbourne. A similar but smaller-scale building, designed by D. Garlick & Son and built by W. Rogers, was erected in Light Square, Adelaide.

The mayor’s report of 1889 noted that the premises were almost fire resistant, as each floor was “separated by arches turned in cement concrete and resting upon iron joists”. It was a prominent feature of the city and the design was described as “bold and substantial”. It features bold brick and rendered detailing, with giant order pilasters linking first and second floors, and paired pilasters on the top floor. String courses articulate and give a sense of proportion to the Light Square and Waymouth Street facades. The exterior remains largely original.


show more


[edit | edit source]

The building is historically and architecturally significant as a 'modern' high rise warehouse.

Connects with

Related places
Related people
Related organisations
Related events
Related things

See also

Images of Sands & McDougall Warehouse

  • Sands and McDougall Warehouse
Daniel Garlick
W Rogers
Building materials
Brick, Concrete, Render, Plaster
Architectural styles
2 Victorian Period (c. 1840–c. 1890)
1889 -
Architecture and design features
pilasters, string course
Engineering features
West End
Council Ward
Alternative Addresses
Town Acre
Planning Zone or Policy Area
Original owners
John Sands, Thomas Kenny, James MacDougall
Original occupant
Later occupant/s
Purposes and use
Commercial, Warehouse
AS2482 classification
18100 - Historic Sites (unclassified)
Public Access
Business/trading hours
State Heritage ID
ACC Reference No.
DPTI Heritage No.
Certificate of Title No.
CT 6092/623 D12196 APT 7 CT 6092/624 D12196 A7
NTSA file exists
Heritage Status
State Heritage listed
State heritage listing
State Heritage listed
Date of State heritage listing
Local heritage listing
Date of Local heritage listing
NTSA listing
NTSA classified
Date of NTSA listing
Section 23 (4) crtiteria
Risk status
Historic Themes
3.1 Economic Cycles
3.1.5 Farming Boom
3.4 Manufacturing
3.4.3 Factories
Australian Curriculum references
Year 5: The Australian Colonies


  • ACA, Annual report 1889, p. 103, Assessments; The Age, 2 February 1983, p. 24;
  • Australasian Builder and Contractor's News, 7 July 1888; Down, H.P., A century in printing
  • - the story of Sands and McDougall 1853-1953; MLSA, Historical photographs (Town Acre
  • 180).

Further reading

External links

Something to add or share?

blog comments powered by Disqus