ach20080106-170424web Stork Hotel Exterior View

In Japan there's a construction company named Kongō Gumi that has been operating since AD571.

There's a pub (hotel/inn) called Hoshi Ryokan that has been operating since AD717.

Austria has St Peter, a restaurant that started in AD803.

Wikipedia's articles on old companies only reaches until 1851. So the Stork Hotel, founded 1855, would never have counted as "old" in world terms. But in Melbourne terms, a pub founded in 1855 was pretty special.

When the Stork Hotel opened, Melbourne was only twenty years old.

In some ways, Melbourne was already pretty advanced by then. Victoria was an independent colony (1851). The University of Melbourne had been founded (1853). The first railway had been built (1854). But the Queen Victoria Market across the road had not yet started (1857). The Melbourne Museum was only founded in the same year as the Stork Hotel (1855). Nobody had yet played a game of Australian Rule Football (1858). Burke and Wills hadn't left for the inland yet (1860). And no horse had completed a Melbourne Cup (1861).

Universities, Museums and the like tend to exist for a long time. But private businesses, especially ones that still operate from the same location, are rare. Hotels are unusually long lived, But whenever one of these old pubs shuts down, we lose a bit of the fabric of our city. The Stork could be sold for redevelopment because it had gained an Art Deco exterior in the 1920s that destroyed the building's original heritage value. You can see in the photo at the top of this posting that the building bears the date 1925. The business dates back to 1855, but the 1925 renovation removed its heritage value. Apparently redecorated Art Deco exteriors from the 1920s don't gain heritage protection.

Stork Hotel 1855 -2007 Closed

So whilst it has been possible to walk in to the building on the south eastern corner of Elizabeth and Therry Streets and buy a beer on almost any day for the last 152 years (subject to Licensing restrictions preventing Sunday trading or 6pm closing). it's now no longer possible.

ach20080106-170614web Stork Hotel Interior

Fortunately, nobody ever seems to have substantially remodelled the Mac Hotel around the corner, which dates from 1853. It still looks like you could tie up your horse out the front if the space wasn't taken by those new fangled "auto-mobiles". So  I guess we preserve buildings, but not businesses. No doubt the Stork's unvalued but quirky building will soon be replaced by something modern and anodyne.

ach20080106-17102web Mac Hotel Franklin Street Melbourne

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Anthony Holmes January 6th, 2008 08:36:18 PM

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