Federal Coffee Palace

The Federal Hotel and Coffee Palace was a large elaborate Second Empire style temperance hotel in the city centre of Melbourne, Victoria, built in 1888 at the height of Melbourne's Boom era, and controversially demolished in 1973.[1] Located on Collins Street, Melbourne's premier thoroughfare, on the corner of King Street, near Spencer Street Station (the address is now 555 Collins Street), it is prominent in lists of the buildings Melburnians most regret having lost.[2]

Federal Hotel and Coffee Palace
A tram car passes the Federal Coffee Palace in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.jpg
Federal Coffee Palace 1890s
General information
LocationMelbourne, Victoria, Australia
Address555 Collins Street
Design and construction
ArchitectWilliam Pitt
Other information
Number of rooms370

Design & constructionEdit

In June 1885, the local businessmen and politicians James Mirams and James Munro established the Federal Coffee Palace Company, and announced their intention to issue £100,000 of shares to buy the plot on the corner of Collins and King, and build a seven-storey temperance hotel to the design of Tappin Gilbert and Dennehy, that would be 'the finest in the city'.[3] In November 1885, perhaps not satisfied with that design, the Company held a competition, with 13 entries; the first prize was awarded to Ellerker & Kilburn, and the second to William Pitt,[4][5] who then worked together to design 'the massive edifice'.[6] Construction began in early 1886,[7] and it opened in July 1888,[8] in time for Melbourne's Centennial Exhibition, which opened at the Exhibition Buildings on the 1st August.

Federal Hotel details, 1950s

The exterior stucco facades included sculpted figures, and multiple setbacks to relieve its great bulk, dominated by a lofty corner domed turret that was 165ft high, and topped by Second Empire mansard roofs. The interior had a huge, four storey lobby with a grand staircase, and impressively appointed dining and entertaining rooms. The hotel had 370 guest bedrooms, with a penthouse suite in the tower at the top of the building. The construction took five million bricks and cost £110,000.[9]

The Federal Hotel and Coffee Palace was by far the largest and grandest product of the late 19th century temperance movement in Australia that saw numerous Coffee Palaces built all over the country, but particularly in Victoria, with examples in most country towns and Melbourne suburbs. All built in the boom years of the 1880s, often in competition with nearby hotels that did sell alcohol, once the Boom of the 1880s became the Crash of the 1890s, many struggled to remain viable, and often eventually gave up on the temperance aspect of the business. In 1923, The Federal Coffee Palace became licensed, and was renamed The Federal Hotel.[10]


Statuary from the building was preserved and relocated to Chateau Commodore in Lonsdale Street

Located at the warehouse /shipping end of the CBD, far from the shopping and recreation centres, and with a decline in country railway passengers arriving at Spencer Street Station, the Federal struggled to remain viable. Renovations in the late 1960s did not save the hotel from this declining popularity, and Federal Hotels P/L sold it to developers in 1971. Closure and demolition for an office development was announced in 1972,[11] demolition completed in 1973, and the 23 storey Enterprise House was completed by 1975. In 2017 approval for the replacement of that building with a 46 level hotel and apartment tower was granted.[12] In 2019 the design changed to a 35 level office building with retail at ground level.[13]

Some elements of the building were carefully removed by Whelan the Wrecker; three of the four female statues by modeller Charles William Scurry were relocated to the then new Chateau Commodore in Lonsdale Street, and when that changed hands over 20 years later, they were donated to the McClelland Sculpture Park and Gallery in Langwarrin outside Frankston, Victoria in 1996, and a panel of the cast-iron stair balustrade (with 'FCP' in the pattern) was donated by Myles Whelan to the Museum of Victoria in 1992.


See alsoEdit


  1. ^ History of the Hotel Federal : (formerly the Federal Coffee Palace), [s.n.], 1963, retrieved 11 August 2019
  2. ^ "Forget me not: Melbourne's glorious buildings". www.heraldsun.com.au. 7 October 2014. Retrieved 16 March 2020.
  3. ^ "THE FEDERAL COFFEE PALACE". Bendigo Advertiser. Vol. XXXII, no. 9, 342. Victoria, Australia. 27 June 1885. p. 3. Retrieved 11 August 2019 – via National Library of Australia.
  4. ^ "THE NEW FEDERAL COFFEE PALACE". The Age. No. 9597. Victoria, Australia. 21 November 1885. p. 13. Retrieved 11 August 2019 – via National Library of Australia.
  5. ^ "FEDERAL COFFEE PALACE". The Herald. No. 3035. Victoria, Australia. 14 November 1885. p. 2. Retrieved 11 August 2019 – via National Library of Australia.
  6. ^ "Federal Hotel". Australian Building and Contracting News. 27 August 1887.
  7. ^ "THE CITY'S PROGRESS WESTWARDS". Age (Melbourne, Vic. : 1854 - 1954). 8 June 1886. p. 6. Retrieved 16 March 2020.
  8. ^ "THE FEDERAL COFFEE PALACE". Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1957). 31 July 1888. p. 5. Retrieved 16 March 2020.
  9. ^ "Federal Coffee Palace". Encyclopaedia of Melbourne. Cambridge University Press. Retrieved 11 November 2016.
  10. ^ "FEDERAL COFFEE PALACE. hotel license applied for". Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1957). 22 November 1923. p. 9. Retrieved 17 March 2020.
  11. ^ "The Federal Hotel will be pulled down soon". The Age. 20 January 1972.
  12. ^ "Enterprising Singaporean developer starts work on 555 Collins Street". The Age. 9 June 2017. Retrieved 24 January 2018.
  13. ^ "Charter Hall Lodges Plans for $1.5bn Collins Street Development". The Urban Developer. 19 April 2019. Retrieved 17 March 2020.