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National Hotel

High and Market Streets, 1895

National Hotel, 98 High St on the corner with Market St, 1895, with the second floor added 1902. Damaged by fire in 1975 and 2007; restored 1995, 2001, 2013. It was built (1895) by Richard Rennie. Its first licensee was William Conroy, 6 September 1886 (Wikipedia).


Photograph of a painting by Toby Leek, courtesy of the artist.


Photo from Battye's Cyclopedia, 1912-13.

The following fragmentary history is from the National Hotel website:
The site was first used as a shop in 1868, then during the 1870s [Hutchison has 1880] became the National Bank. In 1886 the branch relocated to lot 30 [no. 16] High St, opposite Sandover's store.
By late 1886 the National Hotel opened, taking its name from the bank that occupied the site. The site and building was then owned by J.J. Higham, a local merchant and businessman [who sold it in 1891 to James Hagan and/or his son James Edward Hagan]. In 1895 the building underwent a major reconstruction [with F.W. Welford taking over as propietor].
Some time later the hotel was acquired by Michael and Daniel Mulcahy (Messrs Mulcahy Bros), who came to Western Australia to prospect for gold and enjoyed great success, then went on to become prominent Hotel proprietors and pastoralists. In 1902 they enlisted the architect Mr Louis Pearce to prepare plans to rebuild an up-to-date and commodious hotel, worthy of its position in the centre of Fremantle.
The original two-storey hotel was to be replaced with a new prominent hotel of five levels including a basement. The hotel was to be constructed of stone and brick with stone forming the foundations and the lower portions of the walls with the brick above. The plans included a right-of-way from Market Street, and balconies totalling 450ft in length and about 9 foot in width. The wall height was 45 foot, extending to 70 foot from the ground to the top of the dome, the flag pole being a further 21 foot high. Internally, there was to be a total of between 50 and 60 rooms with provisions of 13 foot ceilings on the ground floor to 12 foot ceilings on the other floors as well as spacious stairways and corridors. The basement contained a large kitchen, three cellars, two wine store rooms, a scullery, storeroom and servants dining room.

The West Australian in 1902 stated that:
"The architect has, throughout, apparently, striven to produce something which will reflect the highest credit upon his profession, and when the building is completed, it should form a valuable addition to the architecture of Fremantle." The National Hotel was anticipated to cost between 7,000 and 8,000 pounds. Michael Mulcahy died in 1917 and until at least 1933 the hotel was still owned by Daniel Mulcahy. By 1948 ownership had changed to Mr. T. Dean who also owned the Central Hotel in Perth.
In 1953 Allen & Nicholas carried out works, including erection of suspended awnings. On 15th February 1975 the top floor was destroyed by fire. In 2006 the hotel was closed for a major upgrade. Prior to the completion of development works, on the 13th March 2007, the hotel was vandalized and set on fire which seriously gutted the interior and the roof, however the exterior remained just about intact. The hotel has changed ownership a couple of times since then and in 2010 received the City of Fremantle heritage award for the conservation including restoration and reconstruction of the exterior of the hotel building. The building was purchased by the Carnegie's International Group in 2012 who set about restoring it into the magnificent venue you see today.
The National Hotel is a substantial and highly decorative four level prominent corner hotel, expressing the affluence of the gold boom and designed in the Federation Free Style of Architecture.

A previous National Hotel building on the site was bought in 1891 or shortly after by James Hagan and/or his son James Edward Hagan. He came to Fremantle when his brother Patrick died in 1891, leaving him (James) the ownership of the Victoria Hotel. The National was run for a short time by his son, James Edward Hagan, before James sold both hotels in 1893, and he and most of his sons left for the goldfields.

References and Links

Many thanks to the Hagan family for some of the information above.

See also: William Conroy, first licensee.

See also: Mulcahy.

Garry Gillard | New: 18 September, 2014 | Now: 15 May, 2021