Saturday, September 13, 2008

Ashes

One of my favourite spots in Perth (not that I've seen much of it) is Guildford. Mostly I drive through it on my way to Midland for furniture shopping, Spotlight, patchwork stores, but twice now I have actually stopped. There are a number of quaint antique stores and cafes and lots of old buildings. This week I stopped, not to shop (although I was on the way to Midland) but to check out the buildings and history of the area.
<--Guildford Post Office

Now an outer suburb of Perth, Guildford was originally a market town on the upper reaches of the Swan River serving the developing agricultural regions. It was a favourite area of Capt. Stirling who founded the free-settlement of Perth and established his country retreat here.





The Guildford Hotel was built in 1886, during the Gold Rush. A number of hotels were built in this time, often on street corners on the way to the Goldfields. It was built in 'Federation Free Classical Style' with a heavily embellished and symmetrical facade, demonstrating the prosperity of the time. Now painted in deep red and green, the original colours of the facade were apparently more muted.
<--Guildford Hotel, pic from www.swanvalley.com.au


The landmark hotel was almost condemned in 1991 until new owners stepped in and restored the building. It was at this time it was discovered that the original parts were contructed with convict made bricks.



Sadly, last week the Hotel burned down. It was quite a shock. Unfortunately I hadn't gotten around to taking photos of it prior to this. The fire gutted the building and caused an estimated $3million damage. But how can you put a price on history?
Pic from ABC news online-->

Stepping out of my car half a block from the hotel, almost 2 weeks after it burned down, you could still smell the smoke in the air. All that remains is the facade, tall and straight and unblemished aside from some scaffolding, trying to deny the destruction of its innards. Pansies are still growing in the flower-boxes on the boarded up windows. But burned metal hangs down from what was once the roof. And the dull-grey sky can be seen through the upper story windows.



The owners have vowed to restore it to its former glory. The current/former/temporary premier (election was last weekend, votes are still being counted, neither Lib or Lab got enough votes to rule outright, so they are waiting for the Nationals to decide who they want to side with) said the Government would look at helping to fund the restoration. Let's hope he is out of power before they can decide on this!
Most of the original 120 year old materials are gone: the sparking Jarrah boards, the intricate ceiling roses and cornices which were part of its architecture. All gone.
Can the Guildford Hotel and its history really be restored?

The remains:

1 comments:

Sueblimely said...

What a shame although at least the exterior seems as if it has not been burned as bad as it could have been. I wonder if they will be able to afford to rebuild the inside in the original style?