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Chapter 6: Our Own Building


“Property is desirable, is a positive good in the world.”

Abraham Lincoln: Message to Congress

Between 1966 and 1982 the Club rented the second floor of 483 Elizabeth Street. The Victorian Chess Association (now “Chess Victoria”) shared the premises, at first for nothing, but later paying a fee. In the 1970’s the Club established a fund to buy a building. It made a detailed proposal to the V.C.A. that each body should try to save $15,000 by 1982, with a view to using the resulting $30,000 as a down payment on a building to be owned by them both. Nothing came of this suggestion and, as Care for a Game records, in 1977, after a long search for something suitable within its means, the Club used its building fund of $20,000 plus gifts and interest-free loans to buy 110 Peel Street, North Melbourne, just up from the Victoria Market, for $77,500 subject to a $30,000 mortgage. The Club offered the V.C.A. a tenancy of the ground floor, which was refused, and so it let the ground floor to another tenant and used the first floor as its club-rooms.

Elizabeth St. renovations. Stephen Solomon sports tartan jacket.

Elizabeth Street renovated


The building was bought by trustees for the Club (Edwin Malitis, Carl Nater, Bob Seaman and Bob Brooking), who also guaranteed the $30,000 mortgage debt. The club-rooms were long and narrow (about 22 metres by 5), with steps up to the roof, where there was a small store-room. In refusing the offer of a tenancy the V.C.A. had already, unbeknown to the Club, taken a lease of the Club’s former home at 483 Elizabeth Street. It ran its own chess centre there until its lease expired in 1990. The resulting costs exsanguinated the V.C.A., fulfilling the Club’s prophecy that the chess centre was doomed to financial failure. For a few months in 1990 the V.C.A. used the Peel Street club-rooms for its events, paying the Club a fee.

The gift by will of Arnolds Rudzitis enabled the Club, in a second bold move, to break out of its cramped position in North Melbourne. Again after a long search, in June 1990 it bought its present home at 66 Leicester Street, Fitzroy, giving the Club the much needed luft (three times the size of the Peel Street club-rooms). The price was $340,000 and the purchase was subject to our getting a planning permit. This was obtained, and Peel Street was sold for $181,000 in August 1990. The purchasers of the Fitzroy building were Malitis, Nater and Brooking as trustees for the Club. It was able to raise just enough in gifts and interest-free loans to do without a mortgage. The Club took possession in December and after prolonged negotiations the V.C.A. began holding its events at Leicester Street. The V.C.A. experienced difficulties as time went by and 1998 was the last year in which it paid a fee for using the club-rooms.

The opening of the new club-rooms in Fitzroy was marked by a simul given by G.M. Tony Miles on 38 boards.

Tony Miles inaugurates the Fitzroy building