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Vintage Gas: The Motor House Pump Palace and Lee Body Works

Today’s feature photo is of the Motor House, constructed in the mid-1930s, and located at 68 Milligan Street in the center of the City of Perth, the Capital of Western Australia. The facility housed a drive-through filling station in the front of the building on the ground floor, the Lee Body Works on the second floor, some form of a car rental agency and apparently a parking garage.

The building has survived and is triangle shaped, quite large and different in proportions than the period photograph suggests. Out front on the left is an American made Whippet, and to its right is a Ford roadster. Beneath the overhang are a pair pumps with visible gasoline display cylinders, and behind them, the office windows; on the far-right may be and entrance or exit ramp used for driving vehicles into or out of the building.

Tell us what you find of interest in this image is courtesy of the Western Australian newspaper found via Old Service Station Photographs – Australia.


10 responses to “Vintage Gas: The Motor House Pump Palace and Lee Body Works

  1. What caught my eye was the business behind this to the left that offered a “Shoeing Forge.” When worlds collide.

  2. Great old building, great that you found that it remains. This Google street view angle is the closest to the original photo.

  3. This was VERY similar to a former Service station and Body shop here in Richmond Virginia known as Coleman Scales , then Capital Garage . I worked as a dispatcher , large wrecker driver there . The building has been converted to Up scale apartments who love an urban setting

  4. 34 aussie body ford roadster ,theres a lot of subtle differences to the u.s version and a lot of wood
    35 was the first ‘all steel’ ford body here, great pic!!!!! and yes the change over from horses took awhile here
    I was born in 51 and can remember the milkman n baker still delivering door to door with horse n cart
    my mother collected the droppings for her rose garden lol

  5. I was curious about the “Courthope & Olifant” name on the front of the building. A little sleuthing turned up the following information about the property from the Heritage Council of Western Australia. The wording is theirs, but I have added paragraphing. The building was placed on their Heritage List in 2016, and there are many more photos, including an interior view, at the link at the bottom of this post. Surprisingly, the Courthope & Olifant partnership as “Motor Car Repairers, Panel Beater, and Oxywelders” did not last very long after the building was completed. Their partnership was dissolved on October 12, 1937 with Courthope continuing on as sole proprietor until 1942 when bankruptcy proceedings were started.

    “The land on which Motor House, Perth is situated is the former location of St. John’s Church. Tenders for the construction of Motor House, which was described as ‘a two-storey steel and concrete garage’, were received by July 1935 and the offers ranged from £13 650 to £15 583. The lowest offer for tender was provided by Missen and Mills, who had already
    worked on prominent buildings in Perth such as the Regal Theatre.

    “The design of Motor House, Perth is attributed to W. G. Bennett, shortly after his departure from the firm Heales, Cohen, & Bennett in June 1935, in collaboration with Powell, Cameron and Chisholm. Construction of Motor House, Perth was completed by mid-1936. The place was leased to Edward Lane Courthope, a businessman, and Jesse Olifent, a tradesman, in c.1936.

    “The owner, Seeligson, died on 24 May 1942 at the age of eighty and the beneficiaries of his will were his immediate family. Motor House, Perth continued to be occupied by businesses linked to the automotive industry after it was sold by Seeligson’s family. Land information reveals that the place was then bought by Dunlop in June 1952, possibly as part of a business strategy to compensate for reductions in profit.”

    “Motor House, Perth comprises a three storey triangular Inter-War Functionalist style building with Art Deco characteristics, which is constructed of brick, concrete, and steel. The outside walls of the building are rendered in white cement, which has been incised to look like stone work. The saw-tooth type roof is constructed of asbestos corrugated
    sheeting and is concealed by a deco stepped parapet. Three large openings facing Wellington Street allow vehicle access to the ground floor.”

    A post on the Vintage Caravans website shows that Courthope & Olifant also sold camping trailers under the Motor House name. At the link below are some details as well as another photo of the building as well as the church that was previously there. Remove the two instances of the word “dot” and replace them with periods.

    vintagecaravans dot proboards dot com/thread/8221/motor-house-caravans-perth-wa

  6. This business either: Painted their own signs, — themselves, or Hired an Apprentice Sign Painter at a bargain rate! Notice that the (Blacksmith Shop) , (Ferrier), Shoeing Forge business had a no-nonsense straightforward sign that could easily be read — from afar!!! The sign on the Car Agency — on the other hand — is something really great for an Art Institute to utilize for: “How not to do sign lettering”. An Un-intended Public Service !!! Edwin W.

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