Ever since being redeveloped into a modern bank, the only interest in the old Palace Hotel is 4.50% on a twelve month deposit.
The Old Palace Hotel.
Palace Hotel (1895).  These days the only tall stories behind the bar, are the 52 in the office tower.
Site History
Even though the Palace Hotel may no longer be totally original, it still stands on a historical corner of the city. Licensed premises operated on the site from 1829 to 1981. The first building was known as the "King's Head Hotel", and was established during the initial year of the Swan River Colony. In 1831 the hotel was acquired by Mr William Leeder, who shaped the premises into the most popular hotel in Perth. The building soon became known as the "Leeder's Hotel".  In 1845 extensions were made to the hotel, to incorporate the first masonic lodge in the colony. It then became known as the "Freemason's Tavern".
The Freemason's Tavern.
The Freemason's Tavern in the 1870's.  You can see the spire of the Wesley Church (left) & two of the three Masons out the front.
It was not until 1894, that the Leeder Family sold the building to Mr John De Baun. He had some big ideas for the old tavern, which involved demolishing it, and constructing the most opulent hotel in Australia.  The Palace Hotel soon graced the corner of St Georges Terrace, and William Street. 
The William Street Facade - The West Side Storey.
The William Street facade, showing
the cast iron balustrades.
The dome is clad in lead sheets.
The cupola on the roof.

 
The William Leeder Entrance.
In a nice touch, the William Street entrance to the  adjoining office tower was named in honour of Mr William Leeder.  It was always going to be difficult to discreetly blend the two building styles. Strangely, the 1845 masonic extension was also clearly visible on the roof of the original building.
Beer on the left - Freemasons on the right.
The William Leeder Entrance.   The 1845 Masonic Join Line.
 
So just how did Perth end up with a replica facade of the old Palace Hotel, and an imposing 52 storey skyscraper in its backyard?

The community was concerned enough to form a body known as the "Palace Guards".  These guys fought to save the old hotel from potential developers. They formulated most of their strategies in the front bar.  Despite their gallant efforts, and the recognition of the building by the National Trust (WA), things didn't quite go to plan.

Drink Responsibly!
A popular solution raised during the front bar meetings.
 
Perth demolished most of its heritage buildings between 1960 and 1990. The mineral boom of the 1960ís, and corporate empire building of the 1980ís were the main culprits. However during the 1890ís even more of our early architecture hit the dirt. The driving force was the Gold Rush in Coolgardie and Kalgoorlie. During this period of increased wealth, and infrastructure expansion, most of Perthís early colonial buildings were raised to the ground. The demolition of the Leederís Hotel, to construct the lavish Palace Hotel was a typical example of this progress.

We cannot be too critical of the public attitude during the 1890ís. The colony was still struggling, and the sudden economic boom was an opportunity to establish a foundation for the future. The first series of colonial buildings were generally a mixed collection of wooden structures, built under difficult conditions. Replacing them with newer, more substantial buildings was an easy decision during prosperous times..
 

Today, the old Palace Hotel is like a $10 Rolex watch.  It might look good from a distance, but you'll never fool your friends.  It is essentially just a three storey facade, with a massive skyscraper in the beer garden.  The restoration of the  hotel was used by the developers as a bargaining tool to receive a plot concession for the office tower.

The preservation process was so aggressive that most of the structure is now fake. The external walls located in office tower atrium are entirely fake. The internal rooms have been redeveloped to accommodate a modern bank. You'll need to take out a 25 year home loan to check them out. The office tower exceeded the acceptable plot ratio for the site, and looks disproportionately tall behind the hotel facade.

Psst! Wanna buy a cheap watch!
  In heritage terminology the Palace Hotel has a very low degree of integrity.
 
Location:  The corner of St Georges Terrace and William Street, Perth.  Find the big skyscraper, and then look down.

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