Two items in particular, both of them in the entrance foyer of the Menkens Apartments, remind residents and visitors of the architectural heritage bequeathed to us by Frederick Menkens.
The first is a large photograph of Menkens and his faithful dog, Mick, taken in 1905 at the Charleston Studios in Hunter Street, Newcastle. Menkens’ silk top hat, the elegant pince-nez, the tailored coat, the waistcoat and gold chain and the goatee beard tapered to punctuate the fine-featured visage, all combine to produce a most evocative portrait of a late 19th-century/early 20th-century gentleman.
On another wall are hung photographs showing an earlier warehouse building which once stood on the site, as well as the present 1905 building in the days when it was a clothing factory for the long-established Newcastle firm of Rundles.
Following the major economic downturn of the 1890s, there was no longer a call for the grand buildings of the high Victorian era, and Menkens adopted a different, more functional architectural style in a number of warehouse buildings in the city. One of these, built in 1899 for the firm of R. Hall and Sons, forms part of the present Menkens Apartments. Another warehouse building built for the same firm in 1905, simpler and bolder than the late Victorian style of the 1899 building, stands to the east of and contiguous with the earlier building. It is the second Menkens-designed building to form part of the present-day Menkens apartments.
The entrance foyer retains the atmosphere of the original 1899 building, with its exposed bricks, beams and massive wooden support columns. A glass-fronted cabinet houses a display of Menkens memorabilia.
The more modern part of the apartment building, on the corner of Scott and Market Streets, replaces the former Newcastle Hotel, another 19th-century building which was badly damaged in the 1989 earthquake and subsequently demolished.
The Menkens Heritage