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Buchanan's Hotel (nicknamed "Buchs"[2]) was a hotel on Sturt Street located in the CBD of Townsville, Queensland, Australia. The three-storey structure, with an ornate three storey cast iron verandah, was completed in 1903. It was used as a hotel up to World War II, and then during the war is housed American officers. It caught fire and was largely destroyed in 1982.[3]

Buchanan's Hotel
Buchanan's Hotel Image
Buchanan's hotel in 1979, from the University of Queensland Architecture Library.
Former namesPrince of Wales (1902–1903)
General information
Architectural styleFiligree
Address12 Sturt Street[1]
Townsville, QLD
Coordinates19°15′28.24″S 146°49′02.36″E / 19.2578444°S 146.8173222°E / -19.2578444; 146.8173222Coordinates: 19°15′28.24″S 146°49′02.36″E / 19.2578444°S 146.8173222°E / -19.2578444; 146.8173222
Construction started1902
Completed1903 (1903)
Cost£12000 (in 1913)
OwnerDavid Buchanan (1903–1913)
Technical details
Floor count3
David Buchanan (1842–1913), owner and namesake of Buchanan's Hotel.

Construction and early historyEdit

Buchanan's Hotel in Townsville was built in 1903, and featured an ornate three storey verandah in timber with elaborate cast-iron panels, the upper sections imitating wrought iron, with stained-glass insets.[2][3][4] It was named for its owner, David Buchanan, who built it to replace his previous hotel, Prince of Wales, which sat on the same spot and was destroyed by fire in April 1902.[5] Initially named the Prince of Wales after its predecessor, David Buchanan's pride in his building was such that in May 1903 he officially changed its name to match his own.[2] The building, of three storeys, was later described as being "decorated with splendid ironwork".[6]

Buchanan, a first-generation Scottish immigrant who owned multiple hotels in his lifetime, spared no expense in the construction of his eponymous pub: Buchanan's featured high-ceilinged bedrooms, gas lighting, electric bells to summon staff members and running water to wash stands in every room. It also contained a five-hundred square foot dining saloon, and the wrought-iron "iron lace" facade was created by Green's Foundry in Townsville. Its construction cost £12000, and it was the last hotel David Buchanan built before his death in 1913. He claimed that it stood "easily first in north Queensland", though commentators have suggested this claim might have been overstated slightly.[2]

The architecture was a particularly notable feature of Buchanan's, one that would later lead to its display on an Australia Post stamp. Dorothy and Bruce Gibson-Wilde note this in their 1988 book, A Pattern of Pubs: Hotels of Townsville 1864-1914:

Townsville's two most elaborate hotel buildings, the Queen's and Buchanan's, were designed in the same year (1902). Both mixed the exposed brick and painted plaster detailing of the Federation era with iron lace, more typical of the nineteenth century. Buchanan's was justly famous for its superb cast and wrought iron.[2]

The Second World War and Lyndon JohnsonEdit

Lyndon Johnson, later to become United States President, stayed at Buchanan's on 8 June 1942 when it was a lodging for American officers during World War II - a visit which he repeated during a Presidential tour of Australia on 23 October 1966.[7] On that same day, he mentioned the hotel in his speech to a Townsville crowd estimated at 50,000.[8][9][10]

After the Second World WarEdit

After the war the Hotel was abandoned and left standing empty[citation needed], and by the 1960s the top story was unstable and unusable.[11] In 1973, it was featured on an Australian postal stamp as part of a series of stamps depicting beautiful buildings. Other buildings featured included the Sydney Opera House, Como House in Melbourne and St. James Church in Sydney.[12]

In 1982, the hotel was gutted in a fire, leaving only the exterior and internal walls standing.[13] [14]The current owner, developer Bill Spee, has announced plans to build a "green" office block on the site.[8]

Notable guestsEdit

Buchanan's hosted a number of notable Australians and others during its history, including:


  1. ^ Franklin M (14 July 1989). "Licence lifts value". The Sunday Mail. Retrieved 29 December 2009 via LexisNexis.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h Gibson-Wilde, Dorothy M. and Bruce C. A Pattern of Pubs: Hotels of Townsville 1864-1914. James Cook University, 1988.
  3. ^ a b "Buchanan's Hotel, Townsville". Digilib: Architecture Image Library. The University of Queensland. 23 March 2009. Retrieved 30 December 2009.
  4. ^ Mary Vernon (17 December 2009). "Not waste, but fun". Townsville Bulletin. Retrieved 30 December 2009.
  5. ^ "Fire at Townsville". North Queensland Register (Townsville, Qld. : 1892 - 1905). 28 April 1902. p. 22. Retrieved 27 October 2019.
  6. ^ Wilson, Robert; Joyce, Ray; Morrison, Reg (1990). Discover Australia: our highways & byways. Runaway Publications. p. 128.
  7. ^ Neil Wiseman (23 September 2007). "Quick stop to revisit pub". The Sunday Mail. Retrieved 29 December 2009 via LexisNexis.
  8. ^ a b Ian Frazer (5 December 2009). "10 Townsville mysteries". Townsville Bulletin. Retrieved 29 December 2009 via LexisNexis.
  9. ^ John T. Woolley; Gerhard Peters. "547 - Remarks at Townsville Upon Departing From Australia". The American Presidency Project. University of California, Santa Barbara. Retrieved 30 December 2009.
  10. ^ The Department of State bulletin, Volume 55, Part 2. Google Books. Retrieved 30 December 2009.
  11. ^ Mary Vernon (5 June 2003). "Hospital hot spot". Townsville Bulletin. Retrieved 29 December 2009 via LexisNexis.
  12. ^ Mark McKay. On Tap: A Calvacade of Trivia and Tall Stories Celebrating 200 Years of the ... Google Books. Retrieved 30 December 2009.
  13. ^ Australian Book Review. 1986. pp. 37–39.
  14. ^ Photo after the fire can be found here

External linksEdit