Audio Script Back to Audio Tour Index
DW Coffee Palaces were hotels and guest houses which did not serve alcohol. A largely Australian institution, they were encouraged by the Temperance Movement in the 1880s.
We asked Janet Groves, descendant of an important early pioneer family, to tell us about coffee pal-aces in Mornington.
JG Mornington had two Coffee Palaces, both built in the late 1880s. The larger, further along Main Street, later became the Grand Hotel. We’ll talk about that later in the tour. This building at 28 -30 Main Street was built for a Scottish lady Mrs. Robertson. It was firstly used as a guest house and lat-er as a shop with a dwelling. According to pioneer resident Mary Jenkins, Mrs. Robertson was well known for her little meat pies.
In the early 1900s it became a newsagency started by a Mr. DeZoete who was also the lamp lighter of the original wooden lighthouse on Schnapper Point. Every evening he used to climb a ladder to light the lamp. He sold the business to a Mrs. Wood who had been running a stationery and fancy goods business a few doors further up Main Street at Clifton House. In the 1920s the newsagency also sold pianos, sheet music and gramophones!
Under the Wood family the former Coffee Palace continued as the town’s newsagency for 50 years. The Pender family later bought it from the Woods and added a lending library. They ran it until the newsagency moved further up the street.
DW This north end of Main Street was a cluster of many businesses early in the 20th Century until town development expanded gradually south towards the highway. Even in the 1950s, there were still small houses and paddocks dotted along Main Street. There were stables around here some-where, weren’t there?
JG There were. If you look on the left hand side of the building, you will notice an archway. Stables for a Cobb and Co Coach were located at the rear of this building. This archway may have been the original access to the stable area – the little laneway at the rear wasn’t opened until much later. Local identity Alan Denham tells us that around 1900, there was a funeral parlour and this was used as the entrance. (see photo)
On the right hand side, and as part of the next building, there is a small tiled doorway leading to the upstairs level. Although it was built much later it’s an interesting feature.
DW Thanks Janet. Further up Main Street, Dickinson Brothers opened a furniture and drapery store at the beginning of WW1 and Coles Variety store opened with much fanfare in 1949. The next stop will be 62 Main Street.