Friday, December 4, 2009

Empire Hotel

One of the things that intrigues me about early Brisbane is the number of hotels that were built. There certainly seemed to be a very high ratio of hotels to inhabitants, much higher than today. Of course, that was prior to the motor-car when suburbs had to be self-contained, and no-one expected drinkers to have to walk too far to get to their local. Now we want to keep drunks off the roads, and we don't want people to drive to hotels, but they are too far away to walk to ;-) Here's a local that was built in the heavily-populated Fortitude Valley area - the Empire Hotel on the corner of Ann St and Brunswick St, photographed around the year 1934.

(Photo: State Library of Queensland and John Oxley Library; #1865)

This opulent-looking establishment was designed by eminent architect Richard Gailey for Brisbane hotelier National Corrigan, replacing Corrigan's earlier hotel of the same name. The original hotel on the site was erected in 1865, and Corrigan had this one built in 1888. The State Government's cultural heritage pages state: The Empire was constructed by Smith and Ball Contractors and the first publican was Walter McFarlane. The hotel extended 130 ft (39 m) along Ann Street and 120 ft (36 m) along Brunswick Street, and contained over sixty rooms." Renovations to the hotel were undertaken by Richard Gailey Jnr in 1925, and then by Hall & Phillips in 1937. The second renovation saw part of the Ann St frontage removed for the construction of apartments. The apartments were torn down in the 1960s. Here is a photograph from 1994 showing the smaller Ann St dimensions.

(Photo: State Library of Queensland and John Oxley Library; #94768)

The Valley went through the doldrums after large suburban shopping malls appeared in Brisbane, but now it has rediscovered itself as the live music and entertainment precinct of Brisbane. The Empire Hotel is at the vanguard of all of that, and my recent photograph of the hotel is below.
(Photo: © 2009 the foto fanatic)

Click here to visit the Empire's funky web site. (Hint: turn your speakers down!) :-)

Click here for a Google Map.

tff

Next: From bomb shelter to bus stop

4 comments:

  1. I just found your blog, I have an interesting photo of the empire, taken under the awning, looking up. In the midst of the renovations, a very old cast iron roman column pokes out. I will email it to you if you are interested.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks for the generous offer, DD, but I do not need it at the moment. Thanks again!

    ReplyDelete
  3. DD, there is another fabulous website called Lost Brisbane where you can share that photo & any other ones you have of Brisbane as you lived it. I would love to see it & I am sure many others who regularly view that site would too!

    ReplyDelete
  4. In this sentence I think you mean to quote Nathaniel Corrigan in lieu of National - "This opulent-looking establishment was designed by eminent architect Richard Gailey for Brisbane hotelier National Corrigan,

    ReplyDelete

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...