The sorry saga of sad shopfronts sails on, with the worst example being the Bairds Building in High Street. A large amount of money was spent renovating this important building, and by all accounts the interior work has been well done. But, the shopfront is a shocker, completely at odds with the beautiful architecture of the upper floor, and the heritage buildings either side, all three done by the same architects -Cavanagh and Cavanagh, who designed among other things St Mary’s Cathedral and the fire stations in Fremantle and Perth.
The Baird’s Building is listed by council as being ‘of exceptional significance to the City.’ The new shopfronts are totally inappropriate and do nothing to reunite the bottom of the building with the elaborate stucco decoration and Corinthian columns above.
Fremantle Council heritage staff and the Heritage Council have failed again to insist on the right outcome. None of this work even went to council- it was done under delegated authority by council heritage staff despite the size of the project.
Fremantle’s commercial and tourist competitiveness depends on presenting the heritage areas as authentically as possible, and no amount of weasel words from the council’s heritage staff will convince us otherwise.