Court House Hotel set to be brought back to life

Court House Hotel set to be brought back to life
Brendan Rees

North Melbourne’s historic Court House Hotel is set to undergo a makeover, according to the venue’s management, casting aside doubt of the building closing for good or falling into the hands of developers.

The pub, which is believed to have stood at the corner of Errol and Queensberry streets since the gold rush era, was listed for sale in January after having gone through troubled times during the pandemic.  

But as reported in July by North West City News, it was understood the pub was taken off the market as the owners sought negotiations to sign up a new tenant.

At the time it raised hopes within the community that the venue’s charming timber bar and restaurant area would be back in operation.

This was reassured after the venue’s management posted a message to its Facebook page in August saying the team was “busily working away to breathe new life into your old local”.

“We are hoping to recapture some of the essence of what made The Court House special,” it read.

“Some of us remember eating here in the mid noughties when it was serving the best gastro pub fare in Melbourne.”

 

“Apart from the fond memories, we have fallen in love with the character and charm of the place. Our plan is to celebrate and build upon these elements.”

 

The message concluded by saying its team would “post progress shots along the way” and keep the community updated on “reopening dates as the time draws nearer”.

“Looking forward to serving you cold beers and warm smiles over the timber soon.”

The post was signed off by the Naughtons Hotel team. It is not known if they are part of the Naughtons Hotel in Parkville, with management unable to be contacted for comment. 

The news of the pub’s future comes as the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation is currently reviewing a recent application by the Court House Hotel in July that sought an “endorsed person” variation to its current liquor licence – which raised speculation of the pub possibly reopening to the public.

Endorsement applications do not involve any changes to the licence conditions such as operating hours, area, patron capacity or nature of activities, but rather seek an additional person or entity to be endorsed on the licence, allowing the endorsed person/s to continue the business under the same licence or permit.

The owners and tenants of the pub declined to be interviewed earlier this year.

After the pub shut, its dining room was transformed into a theatre as an improvised theatre company called Impro Melbourne hosted shows, which now has its own space in Stanley St, West Melbourne.

According to the Hotham History Project, a community group with an interest in the history of North and West Melbourne, the Court House Hotel was originally owned by Samuel Lancashire, mayor of the municipality in 1869.

The North Melbourne Library has an image on file of the building from 1870 before the building was believed to have been rebuilt around 1935. •

 

Caption: Court House Hotel when it was being listed.

John Buncle

John Buncle

February 14th, 2024 - Felicity Jack
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