This iconic building was opened in July 1888 as "The Federal Hotel and Coffee Palace" when "Marvellous Melbourne" was one of the most prosperous and recognisable cities in the world. It opened in the same year as Melbourne's Centennial Exhibition. For many years it was the largest hotel in Australia.
Located on the south-west corner of Collins Street and King Streets, it was originally a temperance hotel without a liquor licence and operated as a coffee hotel, similar to a number of other large hotels in the city. In 1923, The Federal Hotel and Coffee Palace became licensed, and was renamed "The Federal Hotel".
The exterior stucco facades included sculpted figures, with multiple setbacks to relieve its great bulk, dominated by a lofty corner domed turret, and topped by Second Empire mansard roofs. The interior had a huge, four storey lobby with a grand staircase, and impressively appointed dining and entertaining rooms. The hotel had 500 rooms which included 370 guest bedrooms, with a penthouse suite in the tower at the top of the 50m (165 ft) high building.
Over five million bricks were used in its construction. Sadly the building was demolished in 1973.
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Photograph attributed to John William Lindt.
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