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Central Hall (also known by its former name, Cathedral Hall) is a building that stands at the end of Brunswick Street in Fitzroy, Melbourne, Australia. This structure today serves as a centrepiece of Australian Catholic University's St. Patrick's Campus. It once held a similar role within Melbourne’s Roman Catholic (and predominantly Irish) community, from the time the hall and adjoining clubrooms were opened in 1904.
Central Hall, Melbourne Wikipedia
The first planning for the Catholic hall took place in 1901. Archbishop Thomas Carr, and the Dean Phelan, made several announcements to their parishioners at Mass and in parish meetings relating about a proposed hall. At this stage, the hall was to be built on the grounds of St. Patrick's Cathedral, facing north on Albert Street. By October 1902 this idea had been abandoned since the hall would have obscured the view of the Cathedral from Albert Street (heading west to the Cathedral).
On 8 November of the same year, Archbishop Carr announced at Saturday evening Mass that the Archdiocese had acquired a property on Brunswick Street, a former boot factory built in 1873. The property had come at a 'very moderate' cost of £4,200.
The foundation stone of the hall was laid by the Archbishop at a ceremony on Sunday 26 April 1903, and work on the hall and the clubrooms proceeded on the designs of the architects Reed, Smart and Tappin. The clubrooms in the old factory structure were opened in June, but the hall itself was finished about a month behind schedule, and was not able to host the St. Patrick's night celebrations on 17 March 1904 as first hoped. Instead, the grand opening took place on Sunday, 10 April, with over 2,000 people crowding the hall (which had a capacity of 1,100).
Central Hall has been put to many different uses since it opened in April 1904. During the 1920s the hall played host to jazz nights, and in the postwar period, Cathedral Hall hosted Italian dances each Sunday night for many years.
Central Hall (as it became known from the 1960s) is best known for hosting the TF Much Ballroom of the early 1970s. T. F. Much Ballroom was a major Melbourne music and cultural event. Bands which made a name for themselves at Ballroom events include Daddy Cool in 1970-71. Other bands to play at the hall during the 1970s included Spectrum, Midnight Oil, Indelible Murtceps, and Tamam Shud.
By the late 1980s, Central Hall had even become a venue for Victorian state boxing matches and title fights.
While still owned by the Archdiocese of Melbourne, Australian Catholic University was granted the use of Central Hall, and became the scene of the opening of St. Patrick's campus on 28 July 2000. The hall is regularly used for all of ACU's theatrical activities, while the Recital Room (formerly the Supper Room) with the hall also accommodates the university's music students, and other classes when absolutely necessary. Central Hall has undergone restoration in recent years, and was nominated for heritage listing in 2002.