The only purpose-built pawnbroker building in Western Australia has been included in the State Register of Heritage Places.
Heritage Minister Albert Jacob said the three-storey Phineas Seeligson building at 143 Barrack Street in Perth tells the story of the prominent leader in the Jewish community.
"The Federation Romanesque building, with its ornamental facade and high pitched gable makes it a striking and distinctive addition to Barrack Street," Mr Jacob said.
"However, the story of philanthropist Phineas Seeligson also makes this purpose-built pawnbroker building deserving of recognition at State level."
Mr Seeligson ran a successful pawnbroking business in the 1890s. Although pawnbroking was initially associated with criminal activity, the industry modernised in the 19th century and became more like banks, where personal property was deposited as security for cash loans.
Dying without an heir in 1935, Mr Seeligson left much of his estate to the Jewish community stipulating that it be used for charitable purposes.
"Here was a man with so much confidence in the future of our State that, in his will, Mr Seeligson specifically gave instructions for his trustees not to sell the Barrack Street property until 30 years after his death," the Minister said.
"He firmly believed that the value of the property would increase and ultimately return greater wealth to his beneficiaries.
"Our State's history shows that Western Australia was built on the confidence of such enterprising people who saw the potential, and invested, in an up-and-coming State."
Mr Seeligson's pawnbroker building was built in 1894 by Henry (Harry) Trigg, the first architect born and trained in WA.
The ornate building is a fine example of the flamboyant architectural styles of the gold rush era in the Perth CBD. It is also relatively intact and retains many of the original fittings including a decorative timber staircase, cast-iron fireplaces, gas light fittings and pressed metal ceilings.
Minister's office - 6552 5800