The partnership of Mason & Weinstock was formed in 1951 by established pre-war architect John "Jack" Mason (1911-2014) and the considerably younger Abraham Weinstock (1926-2016), who was then a recent atelier diplomate. In operation for nearly two decades, the small but prolific East Melbourne-based practice had a broad and unusally wide-reaching output that spread well beyond Melbourne, across much of regional Victoria, and into southern NSW.
Born in Footscray on 17 April 1911, John Ernest William Mason began his architectural career in 1926, as a teenage draftsman in the Melbourne office of Walter and Marion Griffin. He worked there for a few years, during which he also had a brief stint in the couple's Sydney office, which operated from their home in Castlecrag. Mason left the office when work fell away during the Depression years. Gainfully employed on various odd jobs, he also commenced studies in accountancy, thinking that he might not return to architecture. However, when the building industry gradually improved, Mason opted to forge ahead with an architectural career and took a position in the office of William Merritt, later transferring to Marsh & Michaelson. He remained there until 1939, when the Second World War prompted the closure of the office. In early 1942, Mason elisted with the RAAF and served with the Department of the Interior, putting his architectural skills to good use in the design of military camps. Demobbed in early 1946, Mason returned to civilian life and resumed his position with Marsh & Michaelson.
During 1945, Mason entered three design competitions in collaboration with fellow servicemen Robert Coxhead (1915-1987) and Ronald Bath (1919-?). Winning multiple prizes and considerable publicity, the three men briefly considered establishing an architectural partnership, but this did not eventuate. Instead, Mason commenced private practice from an office in Queen Street and then, in 1951, entered into partnership with Abraham Weinstock, a former colleague from Marsh & Michaelson. Born on 26 Mary 1926, Weinstock was of Orthodox Jewish background; in later life, he claimed to have been Melbourne's first Jewish architect to qualify after the War. He studied at the Melbourne University Architectural Atelier between 1943 and 1945, and again from 1949 to 1950, undertaking night classes while working for Marsh & Michaelson during the day. At the atelier, Weinstock recalls being aware of a significant shift from the teaching of historicist styles towards a more functionalist approach, which he attributed to the then atelier director, diehard modernist Osborn McCutcheon. Finishing the course by December 1950, Weinstock applied for permission to sit for his ARBV examinations. He had completed these by the following March, and became a registered architect a few months later, in July 1951. By then, he was already working in association with Mason, from offices at 81 Hotham Street, East Melbourne.
According to Weinstock, the practice began with a single residential commission but soon grew at a rapid rate, already employing three staff within its first year. While he characterised Mason & Weinstock as "a very modest firm", it undertook a wide range of commissions, from small-scale domestic projects to larger-scale commercial, retail and industrial projects. The office also did a number of ecclesiastical projects; notwithstanding Weinstock's Jewish faith (which, by his own admission, shifted from his family's Orthodoxy towards a more liberal flavour), he designed several Christian churches (or additions thereto), but only one Synagogue. In 1961, the firm's two principals established a company, Consolidated Abattoir Services Pty Ltd, to provide specialist design services to the meat industry. This brought an increasing number of commissions from regional Victoria, including a meat processing plant as far afield as Wodonga. At one stage, the practice maintained regional branch offices in Colac and Deniliquin.
The partnership of Mason & Weinstock ceased in 1970, and the spin-off business, Consolidated Abattoir Services Pty Ltd, was deregistered eight years later. Its former principals both enjoyed notable longevity, dying within two years of each other in the second decade of the twenty-first century: Jack Mason on 25 April 2014, having reached the impressive age of 102 years, and Abraham Weinstock on 25 December 2016, aged 90 years.
Select List of Projects
Coxhead, Mason & Bath (1945)
Mason & Weinstock (1951-1970)