BLOCK 10 | Dr. James Bridgeham Motherwell

BLOCK 10 | On this day, 17 May 1853, Dr. James Bridgeham Motherwell, lodged a Building Application for his House at 90 Collins Street east.

17 May 1853 – Notice of intent to build:

Collins Street, between Dr. Hunter and Dr. Motherwell 

Builder: Cattenach and Masterton – Richmond

Architect: [ Unknown ]

Owner: Dr. James B Motherwell


Dr. Motherwell was leasing a brick house of 4 Rooms with a Surgery, Servant’s Room, Kitchen and Stable at 103 Collins Street east [ next to the site of his new house ] from Mrs. Hobson when he lodged an application to build his own Surgery and House at 107 Collins Street east [ after 1888 the Street number changed to 90 Collins Street ].

His new house was a large brick house with 10 Rooms, a Kitchen, a Coach House and Stable. It was later enlarged to include 12 rooms. Dr. Motherwell lived and practiced on-site for nearly 32 Years. He died here in April 1886.

In 1886 Dr. Duncan Turner bought the house from Motherwell’s Executors and practiced here for many years. It is a shame that the house didn’t survive, it was replaced by a dull office tower [ 90 – 98 Collins Street ] and Cartier now glistens where Dr. Motherwell lived and consulted patients.

90 Collins Street, Cartier, former home of Dr. J B Motherwell. © 32 Blocks
90 – 98 Collins Street Office Tower, former home of Dr. J B Motherwell. © 32 Blocks
90 Collins Street, Cartier, former home of Dr. J B Motherwell. © 32 Blocks


Dr. James Bridgeham Motherwell, an M.D. of Glasgow and a Licentiate of the Royal College of Surgeons of Ireland, was born in the county of Sligo Ireland and immigrated to Australia. He practiced for some time in Tasmania where he held an official position as a medical officer at the convict settlement of Port Arthur. He subsequently came to Victoria in 1849 and commenced practice in Melbourne where for many years he maintained a leading position in the medical profession.

He became one of the physicians of the Melbourne Hospital soon after the foundation of that charity, and he remained connected with it until his resignation. He took part in the formation of the first medical societies in this colony, and when the Medical Society was formed in 1855, by the amalgamation of two rival societies, he took a conspicuous share in arranging the details and two years later, he was elected its president. The Australian Medical Journal, which was started about the same time as the amalgamated society, occupied much of his attention, and he was for a long time one of its editors and a principal contributor to its pages.

In 1856 he was appointed one of the members of the Council of the University, then only just formed, and he held this office until 1885. He was also elected an examiner in medicine under the special regulations. He was an original member of the Medical Board of Victoria and when the board was re-formed by a vote of the whole profession, he was elected upon it by overwhelming numbers. Although his health had, for several years, been very precarious, and his eyesight had failed him, he kept up a fairly active performance of the duties connected with these several offices and he resigned only when he felt himself unequal to their fulfillment.

He enjoyed the complete confidence of his medical brethren, and consequently at one time did a very large consulting practice. His heart, however, was in his profession, and although one of the best known of our old colonists, he never undertook any public functions not associated with the science to the cultivation of which his life was devoted. His house in Collins Street has been for a very long period one of the most conspicuous features of the medical quarter of this city, and he will always be remembered kindly, both by those to whoso sorrows he so successfully ministered, and by his associates in the brotherhood of which he was an honored member. The Argus, Tuesday, 13 April 1886.


BLOCK 10 PLAN copy
© 32 Blocks.