Original pawnbroker building offers rich history and Perth's best toasted sandwichesThe heritage-listed building at 143 Barrack Street, Perth, is for sale. Photo: Colliers

Original pawnbroker building offers rich history and Perth's best toasted sandwiches

From the only purpose-built pawnbroker building in Western Australia to now creating the best toasted sandwiches in town, 143 Barrack Street will provide its next owner a rich 120-plus years of history.

Colliers International has listed the 119-square-metre restored building in Perth’s CBD for an asking price of $2.5 million. Located on the corner of Barrack Street and Grand Lane, the three-storey heritage-listed building has attracted some unique tenants in Scissor Sound Hairdressing, app creator Heads or Tails and the popular Toastface Grillah.

143 Barrack Street, Perth. Photo: ColliersThe property is home to cult sandwich shop Toastface Grillah. Photo: Colliers

The building has undergone a series of conservation works and was awarded a Heritage Awards Certificate of Merit by the City of Perth two years ago – a fact not lost on buyers, according to selling agent Tim Scott.

“We have had a fair bit of domestic interest since listing and the heritage award has been noted by buyers as this is not something easy to come by,” Mr Scott said.

He said part of the value of the property was the upcoming development of the area. It is set to benefit from the Cathedral and Treasury precinct, Perth City Link and Elizabeth Quay and a number of projects on the cards including a 21-level mixed-use residential and hotel development now being built on the corner of Murray and Barrack streets.

Built circa 1894 by philanthropist Phineas Seeligson, the distinct ornamental facade and high pitched gable of the Federation Romanesque building makes it as individual as its founding owner.

143 Barrack Street, Perth. Photo: State Heritage Office The Barrack Street building started as a pawnbroker and had many incarnations. Photo: State Heritage Office

Mr Seeligson was a prominent leader in the Jewish community, running a successful pawnbroking business in the 1890s. Although pawnbroking was initially associated with criminal activity, the industry modernised in the 19th century and became more like banks, where personal property was deposited as security for cash loans.

The State Heritage Office said often inadequate resources of working-class families during this period made the pawnbroker an essential element for solving domestic crises.

Dying without an heir in 1935, Mr Seeligson left much of his estate to the Jewish community stipulating that it be used for charitable purposes. In his will he instructed his trustees not to sell 143 Barrack Street until 30 years after his death, believing that the value of the property would increase and ultimately return greater wealth.

143 Barrack Street, Perth. Photo: Angie TomlinsonThe 119-square-metre building is on the corner of Barrack Street and Grand Lane. Photo: Angie Tomlinson

The building was built by Henry (Harry) Trigg, the first architect born and trained in WA, influenced by the flamboyant architectural styles of the gold rush era in the Perth city centre.

Much of the building is intact, retaining many original fittings including a decorative timber staircase, cast-iron fireplaces, gas light fittings and pressed-metal ceilings.

The State Heritage Office also pointed out the building would likely contain archaeological deposits in its sub-floor spaces, providing information about the pawnbroker business and the people that plied the trade.

143 Barrack Street, Perth. Photo: ColliersOffice space under the high pitched gable. Photo: Colliers

Finishing its role as a pawnbroker around 1930, a new shop opened at 143 Barrack Street – Cafe Nanking – a Chinese restaurant and quite the novelty for Perth at the time.

It didn’t last long and the shop went through a series of tenants as smallgoods trader, clothing and naturopath.

Nowadays its wares are decidedly hip – apps and three-cheese toasties.

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