319-323 Swanston Street, Melbourne resides on the corner of Little Lonsdale Street and Swanston Street, diagonally opposite the State Library of Victoria. In August 1848, the site was sold to a man named George Evans. Evans was a plasterer and stonemason who arrived in Melbourne as a member of John Pascoe Fawkner’s party in 1835 and was the only one of this party to make a permanent home in the Port Phillip district. Evans is a well-known figure, primarily because he built the Emu Bottom homestead in Sunbury, reputedly Victoria’s oldest surviving homestead. The building row at Swanston Street was built by at least 1851, probably by Evans himself, and is significant as a pre-gold rush construction that has been continuously occupied thoughout the 19th and 20th centuries.
Excavation took place in 2013 over a total of 3 weeks and revealed extant structures including original bluestone foundations, hearths, and a cesspit. Artefacts included ceramic, glass and coins dating from the 1850s onwards, as well as a large abundance of bone, and smaller items such as buttons, needles, and marbles. The most remarkable find was an intact clay pipe bowl molded into the figure of a mermaid.