Choosing images for this week’s Sepia Saturday was quite easy.
The challenge was to show a quartet of photos using the themes of towns, hotels or main streets.
I knew immediately that I wanted to look at four hotels in Wangaratta. At first I wanted to feature four different hotels but all the hotels in Wangaratta are so fascinating I realised I couldn’t do them justice in one post. I decided on four images of William Henry Clark‘s Hope Inn that later became the Sydney Hotel.
The first image is reputed to have been taken in the late 1860s. Although most repositories that have this image list it as being the Sydney Hotel, I have seen a similar image on which the sign out the front actually says Hope Inn.
William Henry Clark held the license of this hotel until some time after March 1855 when the last newspaper report in the Ovens & Murray Advertiser that placed Clark at the Hope Inn was published. While Clark may have removed himself to the far more salubrious surroundings of his new brick two storey Commercial Hotel around 1855, he remained owner of the Hope Inn for at least another decade.
The man standing in the doorway in the image was probably the owner or licensee. This advertisement from March 1865 suggests that when the image was produced the owner was still William Clark, and the licensee was William Painter. A closer inspection of the image on Museum Victoria’s website indicates the man is almost certainly NOT William Henry Clark. He was born in 1809 and aged around 60 when the image was taken. A photograph of him in 1863 shows him with a wild and woolly and almost totally grey beard. The man in the image is much younger, having quite a dark beard. William Painter was born in 1829 and would have been almost 40 in 1868 or 1869 so is a good candidate for the man on the veranda.
The image of the hotel has been attributed to F. Cornell. This advertisement for Cornell’s services from the Telegraph, St Kilda, Prahran and South Yarra Guardian on 17th February 1866 is important. He offers photographs of private residences, i.e. outdoor photography, at a time when such a service was quite difficult to perform. The process used a “wet-plate process” whereby the glass plate had to be dipped in chemicals before the exposure, and then the image had to be processed on the spot. The usual way to achieve this was by having a studio set up in a wagon on site. Cornell may have been a travelling photographer before he set up in his Melbourne studio and his advertisement clearly shows that he had a studio wagon available although he may have gone ‘on the road’ when business was quiet or when given a lucrative commission after his Melbourne studio was opened.
After Clark, the re-named Sydney Hotel went through a series of owners, many of whom placed their own mark on the building. A list of the owners and licensees can be found on the fantastic Sydney Hotel website. It is inspiring to find a current business that appreciates and has taken the trouble to investigate the history of the building of which it is custodian. After Clark’s shingle roofed building the hotel was modernised and expanded before 1903 when Henry Campbell took it over. Whittaker stated that the Sydney Hotel replaced the burnt out Hope Inn but so far I have found no evidence of a fire in news reports. In fact the Sydney Hotel of circa 1895 looks remarkably like it includes the old bones of the Hope Inn.
The different roof line to the right clearly indicates an addition, and the veranda on the far left has been enclosed and the entire place bricked up. However the five veranda posts across the front and the older style roof line echo the Sydney Hotel of the late 1860s. It would be nice to locate a better version of this image to see if a chimney lines up with that of the earlier hotel.
In 1909 Henry Campbell called for tenders for extensions and a new frontage for the hotel. The delightful art nouveau Sydney Hotel was the result.
In 1941 Christopher William O’Keefe commenced major renovations.
He turned the beautifully styled and tuck-pointed building seen above …
into this …