243-247 Smith Street, Fitzroy

This site retains part of the façade of the Fitzroy Coffee Palace, which is now Woolworths and it’s car park.

“By the 1870s, groups such as the Collingwood Total Abstinence Society and church groups such as the George St Fitzroy Baptist Church Total Abstinence Society were active locally, and advocated for the opening of a coffee palace like those which had become popular in British industrial cities, to provide a social, alcohol-free alternative to pubs and hotels for the area’s working class population. Collingwood and Fitzroy Coffee Palace Company was launched as a public company in 1878, and it opened its Fitzroy Coffee Palace in 1879, which was the first to open in Australia. It was a grand scale operation which physically dominated the western side of Smith Street, housed in a four-storey stone building crowned with a dome topped by a flagpole. It was very successful upon its opening, with its 1880 public general meeting noted, its profits were “very satisfactory”. In that year, the Coffee Palace expanded to add accommodation for boarders who wished to avoid lodging in a hotel where alcohol was served. The building was extended further in 1887, however the depression of the 1890s affected the business drastically, and the coffee palace was closed and repurposed as Ackman’s furniture warehouse” – Lauren Piko – Yarra Past Port

F.A. Sleap, “Coffee Palace, Collingwood,” 1879 – available at State Library Victoria http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/252387

Ackmans Furniture (located here 1905 –

Image held by Fitzroy Library. Taken from the Collingwood and Fitzroy illustrated Directory and Handbook, 1905.

H. Ackman and Company, Monster Furnishing Arcade, 243-247 Smith Street, Fitzroy.

Image held by Fitzroy Library. Taken from the Collingwood and Fitzroy illustrated Directory and Handbook, 1905.
Image held by Fitzroy Library. Taken from the Collingwood and Fitzroy illustrated Directory and Handbook, 1905.
Image held by Fitzroy Library. Taken from the Collingwood and Fitzroy illustrated Directory and Handbook, 1905.
H. Ackman and Company, Monster Furnishing Arcade, 243-247 Smith Street, Fitzroy. Fitzroy Library
Image held by Fitzroy Library. 1978

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