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National Hotel

Lot 416, High and Market Streets, 1895

Duffield family researcher Philip Pope informs me that Lot 416 was first purchased in 1832 by John Hole Duffield for his son Charles. According to City Library records he continued to own it until the record runs out in 1879, and that M. Higham owned half of the lot from 1876. Charles and his elder brother, another John Hole Duffield, built their first shop on the site - a general store. Charles left for South Australia in 1867. By 1869 the shop was occupied by Abraham Moise Josephson (see below). In the early 1880s Lot 416 was also the site of the National Bank - which gave the later hotel its name, when the Highams came to own it in 1886.

National Hotel (below), 98 High Street, on the corner with Market Street, 1895, with the second floor added 1902. Damaged by fire in 1975 and 2007; restored 1995, 2001, 2013. It was built (1895) by Richard Rennie. Its first licensee was William Conroy, 6 September 1886 (Wikipedia).

Photo from Battye's Cyclopedia, 1912-13. Note the advertisement for Vic's Pictures at the Town Hall, one block away.

SLWA photo of what is now the High Street Mall with Manning buildings on the left, Pellews and Culleys on the right, and the National Hotel in the middle distance, Nixon photo, 1929, call no. 007103D. (Click/tap.) Nixon was only fifty metres away from his studio in William Street.

The following fragmentary history is from the National Hotel website:
The site was first used as a shop in 1868, then during the 1870s [Hutchison has 1880] became the National Bank. In 1886 the branch relocated to lot 30 [no. 16] High St, opposite Sandover's store.
By late 1886 the National Hotel opened, taking its name from the bank that occupied the site. The site and building was then owned by J.J. Higham, a local merchant and businessman [who sold it in 1891 to James Hagan and/or his son James Edward Hagan]. In 1895 the building underwent a major reconstruction [with F.W. Welford taking over as propietor].
Some time later the hotel was acquired by Michael and Daniel Mulcahy (Messrs Mulcahy Bros), who came to Western Australia to prospect for gold and enjoyed great success, then went on to become prominent Hotel proprietors and pastoralists. In 1902 they enlisted the architect Mr Louis Pearce to prepare plans to rebuild an up-to-date and commodious hotel, worthy of its position in the centre of Fremantle.
The original two-storey hotel was to be replaced with a new prominent hotel of five levels including a basement. The hotel was to be constructed of stone and brick with stone forming the foundations and the lower portions of the walls with the brick above. The plans included a right-of-way from Market Street, and balconies totalling 450ft in length and about 9 foot in width. The wall height was 45 foot, extending to 70 foot from the ground to the top of the dome, the flag pole being a further 21 foot high. Internally, there was to be a total of between 50 and 60 rooms with provisions of 13 foot ceilings on the ground floor to 12 foot ceilings on the other floors as well as spacious stairways and corridors. The basement contained a large kitchen, three cellars, two wine store rooms, a scullery, storeroom and servants dining room.

The West Australian in 1902 stated that:
"The architect has, throughout, apparently, striven to produce something which will reflect the highest credit upon his profession, and when the building is completed, it should form a valuable addition to the architecture of Fremantle." The National Hotel was anticipated to cost between 7,000 and 8,000 pounds. Michael Mulcahy died in 1917 and until at least 1933 the hotel was still owned by Daniel Mulcahy. By 1948 ownership had changed to Mr. T. Dean who also owned the Central Hotel in Perth.
In 1953 Allen & Nicholas carried out works, including erection of suspended awnings. On 15th February 1975 the top floor was destroyed by fire. In 2006 the hotel was closed for a major upgrade. Prior to the completion of development works, on the 13th March 2007, the hotel was vandalized and set on fire which seriously gutted the interior and the roof, however the exterior remained just about intact. The hotel has changed ownership a couple of times since then and in 2010 received the City of Fremantle heritage award for the conservation including restoration and reconstruction of the exterior of the hotel building. The building was purchased by the Carnegie's International Group in 2012 who set about restoring it into the magnificent venue you see today.
The National Hotel is a substantial and highly decorative four level prominent corner hotel, expressing the affluence of the gold boom and designed in the Federation Free Style of Architecture.

A previous National Hotel building on the site was bought in 1891 or shortly after by James Hagan and/or his son James Edward Hagan. He came to Fremantle when his brother Patrick died in 1891, leaving him (James) the ownership of the Victoria Hotel. The National was run for a short time by his son, James Edward Hagan, before James sold both hotels in 1893, and he and most of his sons left for the goldfields.

Photograph of a painting by Toby Leek, courtesy of the artist.

Wikipedia:
Architectural style: Federation Free Classical
98 High Street, Fremantle
Opened 1886; renovated 1895, 1902, 1953, 1995, 2001-02, 2012-14
Owner: Carnegies
Floor count 5 (including basement)
Renovating team: Architect Louis Pearce (1902), Allen & Nichols (1953), Michael Patroni (1995)
The National Hotel is on the corner of High and Market Streets Fremantle. Originally built as a shop in 1868, it was occupied by the National Bank in the early 1880s. When the bank relocated in 1886, the building became the National Hotel.
Original building
The site was originally occupied by a single storey shop in 1868 which was run in 1869 by Abraham Moise Josephson (who was later a successful pearl merchant). During the early 1880s the building was occupied by a branch of the National Bank of Australasia. In 1886 the branch relocated to a premises in High Street opposite Sandover's store. Later that year the building was converted into a hotel retaining the name as the National Hotel. The site and building was then owned by John J. Higham, a local merchant and businessman. William Conroy became the first landlord of the National Hotel on 6 September 1886, but ceased this occupation less than a year later when at 12.45am on 24 June 1887 he confronted Councillor John Snook in the Fremantle Town Hall. Conroy shot Snook in the jaw. Snook subsequently died three months later. Conroy was tried and hanged for his murder. In 1891 Higham sold the property to Mr. James E. Hagan. In 1895 the building underwent a major reconstruction, with F. W. Welford taking over as proprietor.
New (extant) building
The hotel was subsequently acquired by Michael and Daniel Mulcahy who came to Western Australia to prospect for gold and enjoyed great success, going on to become prominent hotel proprietors and pastoralists. In 1902 they enlisted the architect Louis Pearce to prepare plans to rebuild a more modern and commodious hotel, worthy of its position in the centre of Fremantle.
The original two storey hotel was to be replaced with a new hotel of five storeys including a basement. The hotel was to be constructed of stone and brick with stone forming the foundations and the lower portions of the walls with the brick above. The plans included a right-of-way from Market Street, and balconies totalling 450 ft in length and about 9 foot in width. The wall height was 45 foot, extending to 70 foot from the ground to the top of the dome, the flag pole being a further 21 foot high. Internally, there was to be a total of between 50 and 60 rooms with provisions of 13 foot ceilings on the ground floor to 12 foot ceilings on the other floors as well as spacious stairways and corridors. The basement contained a large kitchen, three cellars two wine store rooms, a scullery, storeroom and servants' dining room.
The West Australian in 1902 stated that "The architect has, throughout, apparently, striven to produce something which will reflect the highest credit upon his profession, and when the building is completed, it should form a valuable addition to the architecture of Fremantle." The National Hotel was anticipated to cost between 7,000 and 8,000 pounds.
By 1907 M. Byrne had taken over as proprietor of the hotel.
Michael Mulcahy died in July 1917 and his brother, Daniel, died in June 1925 with the hotel remaining in the family ownership. By 1948 ownership had changed to Mr. T. Dean who also owned the Central Hotel in Perth.
In 1953 the building underwent further changes, and in 1975 the top floor was destroyed by fire. In 1995 the owners commenced extensive restoration work with the facade and 1st floor balconies, in 2007 while closed and nearing completion of redevelopment work the building was again set on fire resulting in substantial damage. In 2009 the building was sold to Carnegies, an international hospitality chain. Since then the building has been the subject of restoration efforts; the first stage reopening occurred in December 2013 with the remainder including a roof top restaurant due by mid 2014.

References and Links

Hitchcock J.K. 1919, 'Early days of Fremantle: High Street 50 years ago', published in 12 parts in the Fremantle Times 21 March - 20 June 1919.

Thanks to the Hagan family for some of the information above.

Wikipedia page.


Garry Gillard | New: 18 September, 2014 | Now: 11 November, 2023