Looking back at the Heritage Hotel (old Commercial Hotel), Rockhampton

The heritage-listed Heritage Hotel (formerly the Commercial Hotel) on the corner of Quay and William Streets in Rockhampton was sold at auction in Brisbane today (November 13, 2015) for $1.4 million. The 117 year old hotel was last purchased in 2005, however factors such as Cyclone Marcia, the drought and changes in the coal industry saw the hotel close in March of this year.

Commercial Hotel (now Heritage Hotel), ca.1917. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Neg 78244

Commercial Hotel (now Heritage Hotel), ca.1917. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Neg 78244

Advertisement for the Commercial Hotel (Heritage Hotel), Rockhampton. Published in Hotel and boarding house directory of the principal cities, towns and tourist resorts in Queensland, 1929-30. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland

Advertisement for the Commercial Hotel (Heritage Hotel), Rockhampton. Published in Hotel and boarding house directory of the principal cities, towns and tourist resorts in Queensland, 1929-30. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland

The Heritage Hotel was placed on the Queensland Heritage Register in 1992. The hotel was constructed in 1898 for the owner Leah Johnson and designed by Rockhampton architect John W. Wilson. The site had been previously occupied by the Golden Fleece Hotel, which was established in 1859. Further details about the history and construction of the Heritage Hotel can be found on the Queensland Heritage Register.

Commercial Hotel (now Heritage Hotel), Rockhampton, ca.1905. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Neg 166736

Commercial Hotel (now Heritage Hotel), Rockhampton, ca.1905. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Neg 166736

In May 1906, The Queenslander gave the Commercial Hotel a glowing description, which paints a picture of how the hotel looked at that time. Below is an extract –

“North of Sydney no more comfortable hotel than the splendid structure standing at the corner of William and Quay Street, Rockhampton, is to be found. The building is a red brick one of three stories, and is most handsomely fitted up throughout. The bedrooms, of which there are more than sixty, are not only large, well ventilated, and fitted up with both care and taste, but all open out on to either the front or back balcony, which extends right rounds the whole of the hotel, and each floor is provided with hot and cold plunge and shower baths…Miss Leah Johnson is an ideal hostees, and supervises personally every detail of this very extensive establishment…”.

According to the 1912 edition of Hotel and boarding house directory of the principal cities, towns and tourist resorts in Queensland (see image below), rooms were charged at 8 shillings per day (approximately $46 today) or 56 shillings per week ($320 today).

Listing of Rockhampton Hotels. Published in Hotel and boarding house directory of the principal cities, towns and tourist resorts in Queensland, 1912. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland

Listing of Rockhampton Hotels. Published in Hotel and boarding house directory of the principal cities, towns and tourist resorts in Queensland, 1912. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland

During a flood in 1918, the hotel was inundated. It was reported that a motor boat went through the lounge of the hotel to deliver passengers to the stairs.

Commercial Hotel during the 1918 flood. Published in Queenslander Pictorial, supplement to The Queenslander, 16 February, 1918. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland

Commercial Hotel during the 1918 flood. Published in Queenslander Pictorial, supplement to The Queenslander, 16 February, 1918. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland

Heritage Hotel, Rockhampton 2007. (In copyright). John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Image 7483-0001-0056

Heritage Hotel, Rockhampton 2007. (In copyright). John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Image 7483-0001-0056

Myles Sinnamon – Project Coordinator, State Library of Queensland