Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Sebastian Hodge's Commerical Hotel, King and Castlereagh, Sydney

I've been looking for a photo of Sebastian Hodge's Commercial Hotel for some time. I'm also looking for a photo of Sebastian - he was President of the Licensed Victualler's Association when he died, so there's a good chance one exists somewhere.

A kind person named Tracey executed a RAGK (random act of genealogical kindness) and unearthed two photos for me. But first, a wonderful introduction to Sebastian's hotel, from an 'article' published all the way over in Darwin in 1885.

North Australian
Friday 23 January 1885
There are very few hostelries more widely or familiarly known than Sebastian Hodge's Commercial Hotel, corner of King and Commercial Hotel, corner of King and Castlereagh streets, Sydney. The Commercial is one of the old style of city houses, and was built at a time when extent and solidity of work counted as something additional to appearances. Added to a situation singularly singularly suited to the convenience of the visitors to the city. Bent either on business or pleasure, it has the advantage of commodiousness which imparts it to the character of a first-class family hotel. The edifice is three stories high, with lofty bedrooms on each of the upper floors, and these have the accompaniment of private parlours and dining rooms to suit all classes of visitors. The Commercial is patroned largely in fact, more than any other hotel in Sydney - by people from the country who have business to transact as it is a house of first-class accommodation, at reasonable figures, at reasonable figures, situated on the doorstep, at the famous King-street corner, it is directly opposite the principal theatre, and is within easy reach of the other places of amusement. The trams pass within twenty yards, connecting with the harbour steamers, the railway and all the watering places on the sea coast, so that the Commercial combines attractions in its situation which few other hotels enjoy, added to a first-class table, the best liquor, private bar, &c. Mr. Hodge brings to the Commercial a personal bonhommie and popularity which makes the hotel a rendevous for friends, and he is assisted in the whole interior management by the hostess, whose hospitable attention to visitors, makes the place into a home. The Commercial has a big share of public patronage all the year round, and enjoys an increasing business. Since the above was written we have heard that there is a probability if the Commercial being extended in the way of hefty additions in King-street, a project we hope soon to see carried out.

The two photos found by Tracey:

 From the City of Sydney Image Library
The three-story hotel on the corner at the very left is the Commerical Hotel.
Castlereagh St, Nr King St. Early 1900s. View looking south from King St showing street traffic and commercial buildings incl. at L Commercial Hotel & chambers housing Mont de Piete deposit and Investment Company Ltd (No. 74) and at R Bijou Hotel, M E Harrison Gentlemen's Bath Rooms, S H Young hairdresser (No. 67), Angus & Son carriage builders ( Nos. 73-75), The Original Mont de Piete Investment Co (No. 77) & Harry Rickard's Tivoli Theatre. (Photographer H King). 

 From the State Library of NSW Image Collection
The three-story hotel shown at center is the Commerical Hotel (note Usher's immediately behind it).
Commercial Hotel, Castlereagh St, 1923. Government Printing Office 1 - 17829.

Neither of these photos were taken at the time Sebastian owned the hotel (note the addition of awnings between the early 1900s and 1923), but it is undoubtedly the same building. It probably goes without saying that the hotel no longer stands.

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