Harman Patil (Editor)

Federal Coffee Palace

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Location  Melbourne, Australia
Opening  1888
Architect  William Pitt
Address  555 Collins Street
Demolished  1973
Number of rooms  370
Federal Coffee Palace

The Federal Hotel and Coffee Palace was a large elaborate Second Empire style hotel in Melbourne, Victoria, built in 1888 at the height of Melbourne's Boom era, and demolished in 1973. It has gained posthumous fame as the building Melburnians most regret having lost.


Design & construction

In 1885, the local businessmen James Mirams and James Munro held a contest for the design of a hotel that would be the finest in the city. It was to be built at 555 Collins Street, on Melbourne's premier thoroughfare, on the corner of King Street near the wharves and Spencer Street Station. Two winners were declared, the elevations of Ellerker & Kilburn, and the planning of William Pitt, who then worked together to design 'the massive edifice'. The exterior stucco facades included sculpted figures, and multiple setbacks to relieve its great bulk, dominated by a lofty corner domed turret and topped by Second Empire mansard roofs. The interior had a huge, four storey marble lobby with a grand staircase, and impressively appointed dining and entertaining rooms. The hotel had 370 guest bedrooms, with a penthouse suite in the tower at the top of the building. The construction took five million bricks and cost £110 000.


When opened, the hotel was originally named 'The Federal Hotel and Coffee Palace.' The 'coffee palace' indicated that the hotel, like many establishments in Melbourne at the time, was not licensed to serve alcohol. This was deliberate, as the hotel's original owners were affiliated with the temperance movement. The Federal Hotel was the grandest of the city's alcohol free establishments, but the absence of liquor hampered the hotel's financial success. In 1923, the hotel became licensed, and was renamed 'The Federal Hotel.'


Renovations in the late 1960s did not save the hotel from declining popularity, and the owners, Federal Hotels P/L, decided to demolish and sell the site in 1973. After lying empty for some years, a modern office building called Enterprise House was built in the late 1970s. A new skyscraper, tentatively called 555 Collins Street, is currently proposed for the site.


Federal Coffee Palace Wikipedia