Of all of the former local pubs, the Hotel Mudgee is the most sorely missed. Partially due to the number of residents who would remember its demolition, but mainly because this grand building made way for something as workaday as a petrol station.
The site at the corner of Church and Mortimer streets had previously been occupied by the Miners Arms Hotel, which had been delicensed in 1923 and was serving as a boarding house.
It was purchased by a syndicate, which included members of the Loneragan family and Hunter White of Havilah, cleared and replaced by the Hotel Mudgee. Opened on February 23, 1929 - by the Minister for Local Government no less - the event was covered by the Sydney Morning Herald which reported that it was the launch of an establishment with an ambition to attract international visitors to the country.
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The 47-room Hotel Mudgee was considered to be a building well ahead of its time - particularly for a small town.
Indeed an advertisement from the period proclaimed it to be "one of the finest country hotels in Australia", boasting "every comfort and convenience - electric light, hot and cold running water in every bedroom, bedside reading lamps, numerous bath and shower rooms, rooms with private baths".
But where it really made a statement was in its design, part of the Mortimer Street facade was finished in a Spanish Californian style - inspired by Ted and Tim Loneragan's buying trips to the USA - and the lobby was dominated by an impressive marble staircase leading to the rooms.
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In the 1960s the owners of the Hotel Mudgee were approached by Shell, who sought to purchase the site for a service station.
The go-ahead to demolish was given "following a lengthy dispute with the Mudgee Municipal Council and the Shell Company", as reported in the Mudgee Guardian in 1965. However, the local government was hamstrung by the planning laws of the day.
"Council objected on the grounds that the loss of the hotel would mean a drop in accommodation for travellers, particularly tourists. However, as the owner of the building (Mr Charles Davison) was willing to sell the building, and actual building specifications met with Council regulations, the Council had no direct power to stop the erection of a service station on the hotel site," the report read.
Less than 40 years after it opened, the Hotel Mudgee was no more.
- This article was produced from the archives of the Mudgee Historical Society and the Mudgee Guardian/The Weekly.