Open House Hobart – a chance to remember Hall’s Machinery

11 November 2018

Hall’s Machinery by night

In November we opened our architectural practice to the public during Open House Hobart.

Morrison & Breytenbach Architects purchased 82–84 Warwick Street, Hobart in September 2004. It had changed hands in 1999 after the death of its long time owner, was subsequently used to store excess product for Rossetto Tiles, and was earmarked for redevelopment as two town houses at the time of sale to us. Known previously as Hall’s Machinery, it was here that the a larger than life character, Vincent (Vin) Smith, sold machinery parts for many years. Many wood workers we know have reminisced on how he specialised in the most obscure parts required to repair and extend the life of machinery otherwise deemed quite unmendable.

We adapted the open space to created our practice studio and a small tenancy for commercial lease moving into our adapted premises in 2005. The patchy polished concrete floor reflects many different past concrete pours. We discovered that the timber floorboards of the two original sandstone cottages that Hall’s Machinery straddled were used as permanent shuttering for the shop’s concrete floor. The steel framed shop front remains as we found it, and the sandstone side and rear walling of the Georgian cottages remain. Single storied on the Warwick Street level, they became double storied at the rear showing just how steeply the ground fell away. The original worn sandstone stairs that led from street level to the shared lower ground level courtyard still remain buried in the boundary wall below.

Every now and then people drop in with unexpected information of the building’s history, including a past resident who lived there as a little girl, and a photographer whose name we no longer recall with 35mm black and white photo negatives evoking the atmosphere of machine clutter of the Hall’s Machinery era.