Sydney Architecture Images- Gone but not forgotten

Hotel Arcadia (formerly Grand Central Coffee Palace, Pitt Street)


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Fronting Pitt and Castlereagh Streets (contained the Imperial Arcade).
83-85 Castlereagh St. and 164-174 Pitt Street, Sydney.


Built-    Demolished- 1929, replaced by Art Deco Embassy Theatre


Federation Free Classical Second Empire


Rendered brick Stone


Summary See also- Grand Central Coffee Palace, Clarence Street and 083. TIVOLI THEATRE [1] 79-83 Castlereagh Street.

Joynton Smith took over management of the Grand Central Coffee Palace from 1892 until 1896 and I can find no reference to when it changed to a regular hotel. This page was taken from a document held in the State Records of New South Wales in 1889 before Joynton Smith’s time of management. It is labeled Name of Company Grand Central Coffee Palace Coy. Ltd with a registered number of 000369 with a Capital of £ 60,000 (Figure 4).

The Company published in 1889 a 110 pages book as The Grand Central Coffee Palace visitors’ guide to Sydney: and the various health and pleasure resorts in the vicinity. It was described as "Handsomely illustrated with wood engravings especially executed for this work", and it included an index. Perhaps the words "health and pleasure resorts" suggests that it was still a temperance hotel in 1889. There is no doubt that it was a beautiful building (Figure 5).

An advertisement appeared in The Sydney Mail on Saturday November 9 1880 as a Prospectus for The Grand Central Coffee Palace Co., Limited, Sydney which was offering 60,000 shares of £1 each, with 20,000 shares fully paid up at £1 and 40,000 are offered to the public at 2s. 6d per share at application, 2s. 6d, on allotment and the balance in ‘calls’ of 2s. 6d. per month. The Directors, Solicitor, Bankers, Manager: Mr Richard Southwood, Secretary, and Brokers are named (Figure 6).

The term Coffee Palace was primarily used in Australia to describe the temperance hotels which were built during the period of the 1880s Although there are references to the term also being used to a lesser extent, in the United Kingdom. They were hotels that did not serve alcohol, built in response to the temperance movement and, in particular, the influence of the Independent Order of Rechabites in Australia. James Munro was a particularly vocal member of this movement. Coffee Palaces were often multi-purpose or mixed use buildings which included a large number of rooms for accommodation as well as ballrooms and other function and leisure facilities. The construction of buildings for the temperance movement coincided with an economic boom in Australia and the use of richly ornamental High Victorian architecture.

Subsequently, many such hotels were given prestigious names such as "Grand" or "Royal" and were designed in the fashionable Free Classical or Second Empire styles. The movement reached its height in Victoria and particularly in Melbourne. Catering for families, the Coffee Palaces were most popular in the coastal seaside resorts and for inner city locations popular with intestate and overseas visitors. Ironically as the temperance movement’s influence waned, many hotels applied for liquor licences. Many were either converted into hotels or demolished; however, some fine examples still survive.