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Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Savings Bank, 217 Lonsdale Street, Dandenong, in 1912

By the 1890s, an extensive row of shops, many of them two storey and of brick, lined Melbourne Road (in the area now known as Lonsdale Street). One of the most elaborate was Caffin and Caffin’s Dandenong Cash Store, built in 1893.

In a photo taken about fifty years later, in 1945, the roof line and general appearance of the line of shops hardly seems to have changed. The main visible change is the number of motor vehicles parked in the street and the increased number of shops and businesses.

A few surviving buildings, such as the Cosy Corner Café, with corner tower and cupola (former Arkana buiding), are a reminder of the Dandenong shopping precinct as it was in the early years of the 20th century. By 1939, chain stores such as Williams the Shoeman and Crofts had arrived.

By 1950, more chain stores such as Woolworths and Moran and Cato were here, and even an American Hamburger Bar. There were some shops in Foster Street and a few in Langhorne Street, at the town hall end. Within the next thirty-five years, drastic changes occurred and the whole character of the shopping precinct altered dramatically.

In 1962, a visiting journalist noted ‘the brashly modern shops of glass and steel with spruikers shouting into microphones to lure customers in. He commented, "The influence of migrant ways and tastes is evident in the Dandenong shops, in the exotically named foods on display, in sharp-toed shoes and the expresso machines in milk bars".

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