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Gresham Hotel

1897, 20 John St North Fremantle


Originally the Bruce Town Hotel, 1897, 20 John St North Fremantle, renamed the Gresham Hotel in 1899, delicensed 1934.
My 2016 photo above shows the building as restored in 1988 by Roger Pateman.

Plans of a proposed hotel at Brucetown, submitted by Mr. Burrough, were approved. West Australian, Friday 14 February, 1896 p. 3.

An 1897 article in the Western Mail mentions the renewal to Lizzie Trump of the licence of the Bruce Town Hotel, which was in North Fremantle, part of which at that time was called Bruce Town after Captain John Bruce, commanding officer of the Pensioner Guards, who, in 1851, was granted 150 acres in North Fremantle. The hotel stood opposite the western end of the Gilbert Fraser Reserve (formerly North Fremantle Oval) in John St - probably so named after John Bruce, as it went through the middle of the parcel of land granted to him. James Burrows was in 1892 the first owner of Lot 41, on which the hotel stood.

Gresham Hotel, aka Bruce Town Hotel

Looking across to North Fremantle to the area originally known as Bruce Town, after Colonel John Bruce. Colonel Bruce arrived aboard the Hashemy on 24.10.1850 as Staff Officer to the Pensioner Force. The Gresham Hotel (originally the Bruce Town Hotel) can be seen in the centre background. It was delicensed in 1934.

Photograph #1062C from the Fremantle City Library Local History Photographic Collection. Date c. 1904. Text from the Library entry.

gresham hotel

Gresham Hotel, aka Bruce Town Hotel

On the East Fremantle bank of the Swan are 15 Riverside Road, directly beyond the eastern edge of Gilbert Fraser Oval; and, to the right, the Castlemaine Brewery and Hubble and East Streets. At the right, near the West edge of the Oval is the Gresham Hotel. Corkhill Street runs across the picture in the foreground.
This was a postcard published by P Falk & Co..

Photograph 2110 from the Fremantle City Library Local History Photographic Collection, c. 1910; photograph by P. Falk. Text from the Library entry.

gresham hotel

Taken from an elevated position east of Corkhill St., this is the area (North Fremantle Locations 25, 75 and 130) originally known as Brucetown as the land was owned by Colonel John Bruce. Corkhill Street is to the left with Harvest Road in the foreground. Gilbert Fraser Oval is in the centre background and houses in John Street, originally Pensioner Road, are also visible. From a postcard published by Fremantle News Agents.
Photograph #2109 from the Fremantle Local History Collection, c. 1918. Text from the Library entry.

Heritage Council:

Statement of Significance
Former Gresham Hotel, is a stone and iron two storey hotel building dating from the 1890s. The place has aesthetic value for its contribution to the streetscape and strong landmark qualities. The place is a fine example of the Federation Free Classical style of architecture. It has historic value as one of first hotels in North Fremantle to be built off the Perth-Fremantle Road, highlighting the residential development of the area by this time. Used as Army Officers' Quarters during World War Two. The place has social significance as a popular meeting venue for the local North Fremantle community.
John Street was the main road surveyed through the parcel of land granted to Lt. Con. [Lt Col?] John Bruce in 1857 [Hitchcock has 1851]. The land remained undivided and undeveloped until after John Bruce's death, when his widow arranged for it to be auctioned as residential lots. A land sale was held in October 1890 to dispose of the estate of John Bruce. A large attendance resulted in all 88 lots being sold, for sums ranging from £21 to £102, at an average price of £33/16/0, well above the anticipated price. Towards the end of 1891, the new owners approached the Fremantle Council requesting that scrub be cleared so that they could access their blocks, and it is likely that this is when John Street, which had been marked on survey diagrams from at least 1833, was actually created. The area at this time was known as 'Brucetown'. Pensioner Road, which ran from Stirling Highway (then Bruce Street) to the ocean and beach along the route of current Tydeman Road between Stirling Highway and the railway, and continuing beyond this point at the same angle, was renamed John Street in the late 1890s, being the continuation of the current John Street. This name remained until towards the end of the twentieth century, when roads were realigned to accommodate the expansion of Fremantle Port, and the current alignment of Tydeman Road was constructed.
The present John Street, from Stirling Highway to the Swan River, developed as a predominantly residential area, with the exception of the Gresham Hotel (to 1934) and the North Fremantle Oval (later Gilbert Fraser Reserve). At the western end of the street a number of prominent homes were built, while the eastern end was characterised by workers cottages. Long residential blocks on the south side of the street, east of the oval, had a number of cottages built along their rear boundary, facing the water. These were reported to have flooded frequently. The street overall fell into disrepair in the decades following World War Two, with many of the larger residences used as boarding houses and the cottages rented out. Many German and Polish migrants took up residence in this period. From the 1980s, gentrification of the area began, with older places either being restored or demolished to construct higher density housing. In the 1990s, most of the older houses at the eastern end of the street were demolished to allow for new waterside developments, most notably Pier 21.
Gresham Hotel was constructed c.1897 and initially listed as Bruce Town Hotel. From 1899, the listing changed to Gresham Hotel, under which it traded until it was delicensed in 1934. James Burrows purchased Lot 41, on which the hotel is located, in 1892 when the area was initially subdivided. Applications in 1894 and 1897 for a liquor license were denied, the second time explicitly because there was insufficient population in the area and the Fremantle Police presence could not be extended to the area. A second application in 1897, by Lizzie Trump, was successful, and it appears that the hotel was constructed immediately, as the place is evident on an 1897 plan of the area. James Burrows was resident at the hotel until 1898. A 1906 article noted the place's association with football players and spectators at the oval across the road. It also carried a photograph, showing the place as a stone building with brick quoining, with verandahs in place as in 2004, including the arched portico section, and an open-air rectangular pavilion structure forming a small third floor above the portico sections of the front of the building. Rate books records the place as having a 17-room brick hotel and also a four-room stone house.
In 1907, the title for the place was transferred to Florence Emily Carr, and, after her death in 1945, to her husband George Bailey Carr. The Carrs are listed as residents of the hotel until at least 1949. Oral histories record the Carrs as managing the hotel until it cease to function as such. During World War Two, from 1940 to 1945, the hotel was used as Army Officers Quarters. Following the war, it became a boarding house, and was used as such until the 1980s. During most of this period (1948 to 1975) it was owned by Mary Dakas (later Mary Stephens following her 1965 marriage). When she first owned the place, in 1948, she was listed as a widow resident at 22 John Street.
A 1979 photograph shows the place without its two-storey front verandahs. The 1988 restoration of the place included rebuilding verandahs to match the style of those shown in the 1906 picture of the place.
In 1988, developer Roger Pateman redeveloped the place, together with adjacent Lot 42, site of 14-20 John Street, to create a residential village with old-style character. This redevelopment included restoring the hotel as a luxury residence.
This place was included in the 'North Fremantle Heritage Study' (1994) as a place contributing to the development and heritage of North Fremantle. It was also included in the list of heritage places in the City of Fremantle identified by the Fremantle Society (1979/80) - PURPLE - of architectural and historic significance in its own right.
High degree of integrity (original intent clear, current use compatible, high long term sustainability, restored).
High degree of authenticity with much original fabric remaining.
(These statements based on street survey only).

References and links

Heritage Council page, quoted from above

Hitchcock, JK 1929, The History of Fremantle, The Front Gate of Australia 1829-1929, Fremantle City Council.

Garry Gillard | New: 23 September, 2014 | Now: 7 August, 2022