Another piece of the Nicholas Street Precinct puzzle has come together with the practical completion of restoration works to the Commonwealth Hotel.
The Commonwealth Hotel, also known as Murphy’s Town Pub, had partially collapsed due to subsidence which made the building uninhabitable.
To ensure that the building could be repaired, and to prevent further disintegration to the original components, the building was carefully deconstructed with the pieces stored offsite in a council depot to be restored and repaired.
Ipswich Mayor Teresa Harding said Council is delighted to bring a beautiful heritage icon back to the city centre.
“Our specialist engineers, architects and tradesmen understand what the Commonwealth Hotel means to Ipswich,” Mayor Harding said.
“One hundred and eleven years after the local architect Henry Wyman built the Hotel, it’s been fantastic to see the façade restored with original bricks, floorboards and beautiful stain glass windows.
“Council is committed to finishing the job at the Commonwealth Hotel and bringing the community back into this wonderful space.”
Over the past year, the western half of the front façade was cut into sections with a very detailed methodology to increase the ease in which the façade panels could be reinstalled.
The hotel footings were then underpinned to improve the building’s structural integrity and allow for the hotel’s reconstruction. The façade panels were then replaced and secured to a new structural steel skeleton inside the building.
Along with the façade panels, original windows, doors, veranda, timber flooring and bricks were used in the reconstruction works.
The Ipswich Central Redevelopment Committee has endorsed a recommendation to extend the Commonwealth Hotel to the rear to increase its footprint which will require up to $5 million of further investment.
Ipswich Central Redevelopment Committee Chair Councillor Marnie Doyle said the market has indicated that the base building as it now stands is not of sufficient size to allow for a contemporary, inner-city pub/hotel offering.
“The hotel will act as an anchor for the precinct and drive additional footfall, dwell time and sales within the precinct, minimising ongoing leasing risks and bolstering future trade,” Cr Doyle said.
“By extending the lease period and attracting a larger tenant we will greatly improve the site’s commerciality allowing for greater return for council on their investment.”
Cr Doyle said the practical completion of restoration works was a milestone that celebrates the Commonwealth Hotel as a notable part of the history of Ipswich.
“Council is committed to preserving the city’s heritage whenever possible,” Cr Doyle said.
“Throughout this project, council’s heritage advisor, a local specialist architect and project engineers worked closely to help ensure that important knowledge about the hotel guided and informed its reconstruction and we are very pleased with the results.
“In my younger years, this pub was a live music venue and I have great memories of it overflowing with excitement and energy and I’m delighted it has been restored to its former glory.”
Blending the old with the new is nothing new for Ipswich.
“Within the new Nicholas Street Precinct, the Commonwealth Hotel tells a story of our past and will be surrounded by new and advanced buildings that speak to our future,” Cr Doyle said.
“Council has observed a resurgence of interest in the Nicholas Street Precinct over the past four months and expects to be able to announce some fabulous, national brand recognisable tenants in the coming months.”
Local architect Peter Johnston has been working on the Commonwealth Hotel reconstruction for the past two years.
“I was very excited to be given the opportunity to be a part of this project because these buildings are rare and working on this iconic building in my home city has been an absolute pleasure,” Mr Johnston said.
“I think we have successfully adapted the building for modern usages while staying true to its heritage by recreating it using original materials wherever possible.
“The Ipswich community can be assured that one of the few historic buildings left in the CBD, now stands proudly again.”