The Federal Coffee Palace was a beautiful and elaborate building built in 1888 and demolished in 1973.
Architects Ellerker & Kilburn together with William Pitt designed the hotel, which eventually cost £90 000 to build and £20 000 to furnish. They created a vast ornate hotel of nearly 500 rooms, including 370 bedrooms, ballroom, two dining rooms, a café, shops, two drawing rooms, reading, writing and reception rooms, and two billiard rooms. It was entered through a magnificent arcaded lobby running through four floors with a glass roof and an ornately balustraded white and red marble staircase.
Located on the corner of Collins Street and King Street (555 Collins Street), the Federal Coffee Palace operated as a alcohol free hotel until 1923 when it was licensed and renamed The Federal Hotel. A coffee palace was a residential hotel that did not serve alcohol. In the UK, they were known as Temperance hotels’ built to provide an alcohol-free alternative to corner pubs and hotels.
The Federal Coffee Palace in Melbourne was regarded as the largest and grandest Coffee Palace ever built.
A decline in railway passengers arriving at Spencer Street Station, the hotel struggled to remain viable with trendier hotels such as the Southern Cross far more popular.
Renovations in the 1960’s did not save the hotel and Federal Hotels P/L sold it to developers in 1971 and demolished in 1973. Statues removed by Whelan the Wrecker were donated to the McClelland Sculpture Park and Gallery in Langwarrin, and a panel of the cast iron stair balustrade was donated to the Museum of Victoria.
Source & Links
- flickr.com – Graeme Butler images
- vic.gov.au – Temperance and Melbourne’s grand coffee palaces
Melbourne’s grand coffee palaces
During the 1880s many coffee palaces were created in Melbourne and suburbs, with more than 50 existing by 1888.