The former F & C Piesse Store has high historical and social significance as it played an integral part in the economic and social development of the Shire of Katanning.
It was the “pioneer” store of the district.
It also is associated with the most prominent families in Katanning, that of the Piesse family as well as the Richardson’s.
The building also maintains a strong architectural and aesthetic significance, particularly in terms of its streetscape value, despite the alterations and modifications that have been made to the exterior.
It was one of the most up-to-date stores of its kind in the state when it was originally built.
The interior has little, if any, heritage significance.
The Piesse brothers first established a one-room store in the town of Katanning in 1889, at the time the railway was established.
Owing to their success, they were later able to replace this with a more substantial wood and iron structure.
In 1901 the Piesse complex was erected – the third and finest of their stores.
The building was designed by E Summerhayes, of Perth, and built by J H Brown, the contract price being over £3000.
The Great Southern Herald described the new and up-to-date building as it was being completed:
The retail shop, with its handsome plate-glass front is, of course, the central feature in the building.
Its dimensions are 52ft x 50ft and is entered by two imposing approaches having tiled floors and screen lobbies the latter being provided for keeping dust out of the building.
The shop itself is provided with handsome shelving and fittings for the display of the various goods on sale and the five counters form a very effective and detailed part of the work and all have been arranged with drawers and bins for the reception of goods. [GSH; 5/1/05, p. 3]
Some of the other special features of the new complex included the mirror in the millinery department which was “7ft x 4ft, surrounded with beautifully designed embossed glass panes, the initials of the firm being conspicuously worked thereon”; the main staircase; the six offices; the lead-lights’, the showroom on the upper floor, the Italian style of the front elevation and the verandah floored with “patent granolithic paving”.
The whole building was serviced by electric light. [GSH, 5/10/05, p.3]
The facade is Federation Italianate in style with emphasised piers and balustrade parapet.
The building also features a central pediment with a rural motif above the name F & C Piesse.
From here the Piesse brothers continued their successful trading operations until 1904 when Robert Lawson Richardson entered into the partnership and the store became known as Richardson & Co.
Richardson took the store into a very successful period, whereby other branches were being opened up all over the Great Southern and Richardson becoming a household name.
As a result, a new wing was added to the store in 1908 to meet the demands.
In 1924 the business was floated into a limited company under the name of Richardson and Co. Ltd, with Richardson as the Chairman of the Board.
Extensive additions and alterations were carried out to the building in 1927, costing over £8000, when the premises were purchased from the Piesse estate.
The architects were Oldham, Boas, Ednie-Brown and the contractors were Hine & May.
Under the new management and with the up-to-date renovations the business was promoted as “the Pioneer Store of the District: First in 1889 -Still First in 1939”. [Webse, p.38]
The store has had many tenants and by 1980 it lay vacant.
In 1985 local businessmen refurbished the building making it a modern shopping complex and several businesses began trading under the one roof.
There are also boarding rooms on the upstairs level.
The building has undergone many renovations and alterations, particularly in 1985.
The original timber posted verandah was removed and replaced with cantilever style awning.
The face brickwork has been painted and disabled toilets added in June 2002.
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