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The Hand Painted Stairwell Ceiling of Reid's Coffee Palace – Lydiard Street, Ballarat

Reid's Coffee Palace (another name for a temperance hotel) was built by German immigrant John Reid on the site of his New York Bakery next to Ballarat's central railway terminus. Reid's Coffee Palace, which along with the bakery, and the Provincial Hotel across the street, were part of the franchise operated by John Reid.


Reid's Coffee Palace was built in two stages. The first was in 1886, with Melbourne architects Tappin and Gilbert and contractors Taylor and Ellis. The extensions were undertaken by Tappin Gilbert and Dennehy in 1888. The verandah would appear to have been built about ten years after that around 1898 - 1900.


The building itself is a very example of the Classical Revival style. Internally the stairwell with its wonderful front doors, vestibule tiling, hand painted ceiling and wall panels, clerestory, glazing and entrance arch are perhaps of greatest importance.


I had read about the wonderful stairwell with its hand painted ceiling featuring the four seasons, and wall panels of exotic destinations, so I decided to try my luck and see if the hotel concierge was agreeable to me photographing it. He was most obliging and allowed me unlimited access.


The Coffee Palace remained extraordinarily intact, both internally and externally until the property was finally sold by the Reid family in 1977. The original fixtures and furniture was sold off and the whole building redecorated internally and externally.


John Reid emigrated from Germany to America, where in New York (the desination of so many European immigrants) he entered the baking trade. In 1855 brought the techniques and specialities he had learnt in New York to the burgeoning Victorian goldfields to feed the hordes of hungry miners, most of whom had never known anything like what John served. He established a New York bakery in the adventageous spot next to Ballarat's busy railway station, where the bakery remained until he decided to open his own coffee palace.


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.

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Taken on May 13, 2012