This series of articles on the buildings of colonial Hobart will cover:

  1. Architectural Eras and Styles in Hobart
  2. Classical Orders you’ll see in Hobart
  3. Doric
  4. Ionic
  5. Corinthian
  6. Composite
  7. Tuscan

Traditionally British architecture adhered to a particular set of styles, rules and proportions which were applied by professional designers employed by the wealthy elite to create a work of art.

  1. Architectural Eras and Styles in Hobart

In classifying Hobart’s architecture, I have been guided by the work of:

Australian Colonial Architecture, 1978 by Philip Cox and Clive Lucas

A Pictorial Guide to Identifying Australian Architecture: Styles and Terms from 1788 to the Present , 1989, by Richard Apperly, Robert Irving, Solomon Mitchell and Peter Reynolds

A Far Microcosm:– Building and Architecture in Van Diemen’s Land and Tasmania 1803 – 1914 by Eric Ratcliff, 2015

When the British settlers arrived in Hobart in 1804, they brought with them their particularly English ideas about how a city should look. By the 1850s a new arrival in Hobart could find examples of all the fashionable architectural styles then common in Britain.

Hobart’s colonial architecture designers did not feel bound to conform with the strict style rules of British buildings.

When thinking of applying a style to a building in Hobart, two terms are needed: Era and Style. Era indicates the year of build and Style indicate the features of the building.


Old Colonial         1804 – 1840        Victorian               1840 – 1890

Federation            1890 – 1915        Inter War              1915 – 1940

Late 20th C          1960 -1990


Georgian, Regency, Gothic, Italianate, Electicism, Edwardian, Mannerist, Art Deco, Stripped Classical, Brutalist

Era: Old Colonial (1804 – 1840)    

Style: Georgian: symmetrical, a plain box, simple lines, central door, square windows

Ingle Hall c1814
Old Colonial Georgian 89 Macquarie St Hobart

Used for: commercial buildings and private homes.

Hobart’s first buildings were a reflection of the unsophisticated society that was more concerned with the basics of protecting themselves and their possessions from theft and the elements, using the locally available skills and materials.

Features: 2 storey, brick, hipped roof, stone quoins, stone detail above windows and door. 12 pane windows, 6 pane doors. Dormer windows and white paint added later.

Waterfront warehouses
Old Colonial Georgian

Colonial commercial buildings, 5-7 Murray St, Hobart. c1830

3 storey, stone, hipped roof, conjoined commercial buildings. Dressed stone façade, frieze and cornice over shopfront.

location of frieze
5-7 Murray St Hobart
location of cornice

Era: Old Colonial (1804 – 1840)

Style: Regency: has the Georgian basics plus elegant detail: parapet, breakfront, string course, hipped roof

Used for: public and commercial buildings

Parliament House, Hobart
Originally Custom House

1835 Custom House. Architect John Lee Archer
1841 – 1904 Custom House and Parliament House
1904 – 2019 Parliament House.

2 storey sandstone, slate hipped roof, parapet, cornice, decorated frieze, string courses, two-step breakfront with Diocletian windows on second breakfront.

Era: Victorian 1840 – 1890

Style: Gothic – Simple box, pointed openings, steep roof, castellated parapet, double height windows

Used for: churches

St David's Cathedral
St Davids Cathedral entry on Murray Street

1868 St David’s Cathedral. Architect GF Bodley. Supervising Architect Henry Hunter.

Sandstone, arcade entry on Murray St, large west window with tracery, buttresses, turrets, castellated parapet on square tower – 13 bells, pointed openings all round

Era: Victorian 1840 – 1890

Style: Italianate – Porch, hipped roof, cornice, bracketed eaves, tall windows

Used for: public and commercial buildings

Derwent Bank
Derwent Bank – now the Tasmanian Club

1846 Derwent Bank. Architect James Thompson

2 storey, sandstone, porch with the only free-standing Roman Doric columns in Tasmania, decorative frieze and cornice above porch, pilasters at corners of building, the window above the porch has bracketed broken cornice, pediment and parapet at roof line.

Era: Victorian 1840 – 1890

Style: Regency – has the Georgian basics plus elegant detail: parapet, breakfront, string course, hipped roof

Used for: commercial buildings

Derwent & Tamar Insurance
Corner Murray and Macquarie Streets Hobart

1875 Derwent and Tamar Building. Architect Henry Hunter

3 storey, full basement, pink and white sandstone quarried locally, vermiculated blocks and rounded windows at ground level, stone detail quoins on first level with bracketed pediments over windows, bracketed cornice above top level, balustered parapet with urns, portico has polished granite columns with Corinthian tops.