Glass Terrace, constructed between 1854 and 1856, is believed to be the oldest surviving freestanding terrace in Melbourne. Glass Terrace is a set of eight row houses, each with its own front and rear garden, and all linked by an iron picket fence. Built in the restrained and austere Georgian manner, Glass Terrace was built in two stages and financed by the prominent Irish born speculator/pastoralist Hugh Glass.
The first two houses, built in bluestone, were designed by the architect David Ross. The remaining six houses were designed by Charles Webb.
Hugh Glass was one of the wealthiest and most influential men in Victoria in the 1850s and 1860s. His wealth was built on pastoral holdings and land deals and he exercised enormous influence over the colony's parliament. His business empire collapsed in the 1860s, but he was saved from bankruptcy by his suburban property holdings, including Glass Terrace.
Scottish born architect David Ross migrated to Victoria in 1853. He practiced architecture in Melbourne for nine years, before moving to New Zealand in 1862. During his time in Melbourne, he established an architectural practice with R.A. Dowden. Ross was awarded 70 commissions between 1853-1862, but very few of his buildings remain.
Charles Webb emigrated from England to Port Phillip in 1849. He established an architectural practice with his brother James (1849-54), and another practice with Thomas Taylor (1854-58). From 1858-88 he practiced on his own. Webb designed a number of houses in Brighton, and a number of prominent Melbourne buildings including the Church of England Boys' Grammar School, South Yarra (1856); Royal Arcade, Bourke Street (1869); South Melbourne Town Hall (1878); Tasma Terrace, East Melbourne (1878); and the Grand Hotel (Windsor), Spring Street (1884).
Glass Terrace is the forerunner of a great tradition of terrace houses in Melbourne. Others such as Royal Terrace, Fitzroy, 1854-56; Clarendon Terrace, East Melbourne, 1856-57; Rochester Terrace, St. Vincent's Place, Albert Park, 1869-79, and Tasma Terrace, East Melbourne, 1878-87, are some of the finest examples of this building type in Australia. Glass Terrace was restored by the Ministry of Housing in 1985.