Harry Albert Norris
1888 – 1966
Harry Albert Norris was an architect well known for art deco buildings he designed during the inter-war period in Melbourne.
Although he was born in Hawthorn, Harry was a Preston resident for many years.
Between 1917 and the late 1920s Harry lived in Wallace Street, Preston with his wife, Magdalena. Before that his childhood family home was in Carlisle Street.
A talent for design must have been in his blood, because as a teenager, a post card he designed was featured in The Australasian newspaper in 1906.
In 1910, as an architecture student, Harry won 2nd prize and the President’s special prize from the Royal Victorian Institute of Architects in a competition for designing ‘a small town hall’.
By 1920 he had established an office in Collins Street and a rapidly-growing practice. His early works included domestic and commercial projects, with a large number of motor garages, factories and bakeries.
During the 1920s and 30s Harry worked on many buildings in Melbourne which may be familiar, including the 1926 Nicholas Building at 37 Swanston Street which is an example of the Chicago School style.
Ornate Motor Showrooms in St Kilda Road, featuring the Spanish Mission style and the Majorca Building in Flinders Lane, Burnham Beeches in Sherbrooke and the Foy & Gibson Department Store on the corner of Bourke and Swanston Streets are just a few more examples of his work.
Regular visits overseas travelling to the USA and England to study industrial and commercial architecture gave him inspiration.
On a more local level, Harry Norris’s work included the Preston Masonic Hall in Bell Street and the Northcote Soldiers & Sailors Memorial Hall in High Street.
In the early 1930s, Harry Norris reconstructed the lobby, upper levels and the chamber of the Northcote Town Hall. Elements of the interior style originate from Art Deco and the Jazz-Moderne styles that were very popular at the time.
Harry continued to design buildings at a prolific rate until he retired and died only six months later in 1966 at the age of 78.
Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1957), Thursday 12 August 1937, page 8
Postcard design. Australasian (Melbourne, Vic. : 1864 - 1946), Saturday 17 February 1906, page 53
Institute of Architects. Argus (Melbourne, Vic: 1848 - 1957), Thursday 15 December 1910, page 4
Northcote Leader (Vic. : 1914 - 1918), Saturday 6 November 1915, page 2
Preston Leader (Vic. : 1914 - 1918), Saturday 30 March 1918, page 2
Ward, Andrew (2001). Darebin Heritage Review 2000. Burwood, Vic: City of Darebin
Darebin Libraries. Local History File: Northcote Town Hall.
Find my Past. Victoria Deaths 1836 – 1985
Find my Past. Victoria Marriages 1836-1942