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A Colourful History

A Colourful History

Little Leichardt Street

The street name ‘Little Leichardt Street’ has been worked into the floor surface of the foyer. Did you know the design of the building responds to the site’s original pattern of lanes and alleys and encourages pedestrian movement along these historical routes?

Madame Brussels Lane

Madame Brussels Lane is named after the famous brothel owner, who was a resident of Lonsdale Street in the 1880s. In fact, the area surrounding 50 Lonsdale Street was known as the red light district. Madame Brussels controlled eight of the brothels in the precinct surrounding 50 Lonsdale Street. Most were considered ‘high class’, but others like the one at 4 Casselden Place were of a more dubious calibre. In 1878, local policeman, Sergeant Dalton, was quoted as saying that her weekly earnings were “something enormous: 3 or 4 pounds”. He also said that “no other brothels were as extensive as Madame Brussels”.

Madame Brussels was born Caroline Baum in Potsdam, Germany in 1851. She opened her first brothel at 8 Lonsdale Street. She was a 28 year old widow. As her business thrived, she purchased 32 Lonsdale Street, a brick house with seven rooms. She bought the adjoining six-room house at 34 Lonsdale Street in 1889. She connected the houses and retained ownership of both until her death in July 1908.

Casselden Place

The heritage buildings at the rear of the site on Little Lonsdale Street, including 17 Casselden Place features a historical plaque which notes the history and naming of Casselden Place (the laneway)

River Red Gum Tree

The remains of an ancient River Red Gum tree are displayed in a sheltered part of the courtyards adjoining Madame Brussels Lane. The relic of an ancient River Red Gum tree was discovered in 1988, during the site’s first archaeological dig. It is possibly the only reminder of the woodland that once covered central Melbourne. Maps indicate this was one of the city’s last areas to be sold and cleared of its trees.