1855 – 1931
Who was Nahum Barnet?
Barnet was born in the Melbourne Hospital on Swanston Street, the son of a Polish-born pawnbroker, jeweller and tobacconist. He was an active member of Melbourne's Jewish community, serving on many committees and often writing letters to the Jewish press.
He produced a number of significant buildings including Her Majesty's Theatre, Austral Building, St Kilda Synagogue re-development, the Empire Building on Flinders Street, the former Auditorium, 280-282 Bourke Street and Alston's Corner and Georges Department Store all on Collins Street and the Wertheim Piano Factory in inner suburban Richmond, Melbourne Synagogue in South Yarra.
The popular claim that there was not a street in Melbourne where a Barnet building could not be found was first coined by Isaac Selby and reiterated in Barnet's obituary in The Argus. Popular culture holds that when challenged with the street Brunton Avenue, the reply was that Barnet had designed the small cabman's shelter in 1903.
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