The former Commonwealth bank is significant as a symbol of the federal government’s Civil and Defence Works Programme of the late 1930s. Displaying elements of Art Deco styling, the bank is a rare example of early modern architecture in Darwin. The building, as an architectural feature on a key intersection known as Banking Corner, makes a positive contribution to the central Darwin streetscape.
The bank was completed in September 1940 and its design was then strikingly modern; the design also incorporated adaptations (eg, vents, overhangs) for climate control. The building was, and remains, a rare example of early modern movement architecture in Darwin (though later alterations have affected the integrity of the building’s style to a degree). There is an office section in Bennett Street which was converted from former staff quarters.
Construction of the bank reflected new commercial confidence in Darwin, stimulated by the defence build-up during the 1930s after a long period of stagnation. It suffered minor damage during early air raids on Darwin and was occupied by the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) for much of the war. Cyclone Tracy caused minor damage in 1974.
The building was sold by the bank in 2005.