#6 Grand Hotel Audio Script

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DW This is the larger of two coffee palaces built in Mornington. A meeting in the Cricketer’s Arms Hotel in 1888 convened by “gentlemen from Melbourne and locals” decided to establish a coffee palace in Mornington at the site next door. In the 1880s the Temperance Movement encouraged the building of coffee palaces throughout Australia as places for people to meet in an alcohol-free envi- ronment.
Pioneer descendant Janet Groves takes up the story . . .
JG The Cricketer’s Arms Hotel had been built in 1868 by Henry Howard as The Mornington Hotel. It was a fine building with decorative finials and urns on the parapet.
By 1886 Cornelius Crowley was the owner and licensee. It was Crowley who commissioned William Pitt to design and build The Grand Coffee Palace next door. Pitt had designed the Windsor Hotel in Melbourne which was also originally a coffee palace. Ironically, many coffee palaces subsequently became hotels serving alcohol. The Grand Coffee Palace became Mornington’s Grand Hotel in 1892.
A fire near the end of that year might have destroyed this new Mornington landmark if prompt ac- tion by one of the residents had not confined the fire to a single room. This was 30 years before the Mornington Fire Brigade was formed.
The original Grand had three bays beneath the central tower. The Mornington County Herald of April 1889 reported:
KW Mr. Crowleys Temperance Hotel or Coffee Palace – Handsome structure facing Main Street contains 25 bedrooms.
You will see an an arch on the left which was an open carriageway to allow for horses and carriages to travel through to the stables at the rear, which were operated by the Swift family.
DW and what about the buildings further up the street?
JG Cornelius Crowley also owned the building containing two shops next door to the Grand. In the first a barber and tobacconist was established in 1889 by Ernest Teerly who had come to Mornington from Melbourne. He moved his business across the road in 1893 to a larger building. In the following year, Crowley was advertising the second shop in The Frankston Standard for the lease of ‘an old es tablished bootmaker’s shop which had been owned by T. Hutchinson”.
The Grand Hotel was expanded to its current size in 1919 and has retained the original design of the Mansard roof and tower. During renovations the iconic tower was removed but subsequently rein- stated.
The telephone number of the Grand Hotel was originally Mornington 1 when the telephone was connected in 1909 and it still retains this as its last number. 5975 2001
DW And the hotel has been owned by the one family for around 40 years?
JG It most certainly has.The Grand has been owned by Bernie Taylor and his family since 1976. Al- though there has been renovation and modernisation, the Taylors have taken pride in the historic el ements of the building and made sure they were preserved to be seen by patrons. Inside you can see a beautiful etched glass window uncovered during renovations and an original brick wall has been exposed. The wall shows what the colour of most of Mornington’s early buildings would have been. Most of these buildings have now been modernised with stucco and painted finishes. You can also see a series of interesting photographs of early Mornington along the corridor which leads down to the back entrance.
DW As you travel along Main Street towards the Barkly Street corner, the two original shops built by Cornelius Crowley have been replaced by the hotel extension. Most of the rest of the street to the corner was empty or had houses, except for Smith’s butchers followed by the Mornington Market and then Charlesworths established a nursery on the corner over what had been an air raid shelter.
Most of these buildings were demolished between the 1970s and the 1990s.
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