David Mitchell was born in Scotland in 1829. After completing a stonemasonry apprenticeship, he arrived in Melbourne in 1852. Rather than join the goldrushes, he set up business in Richmond as a building contractor. His first major contract was for the masonry for St Patricks Cathedral in 1856, and from then on his business thrived as Melbourne building boomed as a result of the gold.

Mitchell used bluestone widely, as well as his own bricks, constructing not only shops and warehouses, but some of the city's most beautiful churches and corporate headquarters. Scots Church (1873) and the Royal Exhibition Buildings (1879) are amongst Mitchell's buildings that have survived although, sadly, others such as the Menzies Hotel and the Equitable (or CML) Building itself, have been demolished.

By 1878, Mitchell had established his estate near Lilydale and opened the limestone quarry that still operates under his name today. The Equitable (later Colonial Mutual) was his last major building before his retirement in 1899. He devoted most of his remaining years to his agricultural interests, especially wine-growing, before his death in 1916, at the age of 87. David Mitchell's contribution to the architecture of 'Marvellous Melbourne' in the 19th Century is unmatched. He is also remembered as the father of Dame Nellie Melba.

More Information