#3 Commercial Bank Audio Script

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DW We asked local historian Michael Collins why such an impressive Italian Renaissance style struc- ture was built in the small town of Mornington.
MC Well, it was originally a bank and the date gives us a clue. It was built in the early 1890s and re- flects the 1880s boom when bank directors acted more like merchant princes and the banks they built were their palaces.
The Mornington Standard of February 8th, 1890 had the following report:
KW Mr. William Ireland, the well-known city contractor has secured the contract to build the new Commercial Bank in Main Street. He has just finished building Mt. Martha Coffee Palace.
MC This is now Mt. Martha House. All hello hello
The first bank manager was a Mr. Short had a particularly sad involvement in the 1892 football disas- ter. This is his account of the happenings on that fateful afternoon:
KW My young clerk William Grover usually called at my house to collect the keys for the bank. When he didn’t turn up at the expected time after the football match at Mordialloc, I contacted his father Joseph to let him know. Joseph immediately set off for Mordialloc on horseback to see what had happened. As it turned out young William had drowned when the boat they came back in sank off Mount Eliza. 14 others died including young William’s uncle, also called William.
MC The monument at the beach end of Main Street, across the Esplanade from the courthouse, gives a brief history of this tragedy.
Three banks have occupied this building. You can just make out the faded sign of the Commercial Bank of Australia across the front. This was followed by the Colonial Bank of Australasia which merged with the National Bank of Australia in 1918. Up to the 1960s it remained the only major bank in the main street. In 1986 the National Bank moved to new premises up the street. In the following year this building was converted, firstly into a restaurant, appropriately named Le Banque, and then into a hotel.
The upper floor was occupied by the bank manager as his residence until 1970. The banking chamber was on the lower floor. This lovely building is now without the original decorative parapet features and lower bank windows. The high ceilings remain along with the wooden floors.
DW At one stage in its life pioneer Mary Jenkins claimed that it too was a guest house. Why not go inside and look around and perhaps have a drink.
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