For more than a century, the Crown Hotel has been part of the Dayboro community — if only those walls could talk.
Since she was built in 1913-14, the grand old lady perched on the hill at the end of Dayboro’s main street has seen it all.
According to Carmel Bond, president of the Dayboro and District Historical Society, her story started long before that time, in April 1888 when James Berry applied for a provisional licence for a hotel.
He built the first store in the township in January 1887, using bricks from the old sugar mill. Mr Berry’s application for a provisional hotel licence was initially refused, and after several more attempts it was granted on July 6, 1892. He named it the Crown Hotel.
Carmel says he had to submit specifications for improvements soon after and this was possibly when a timber store was attached to the brick building.
Lieutenant James Berry went to South Africa with the 4th Contingent Imperial Bushmen, Queensland, in May, 1900 and in September that year his wife Mary Ann leased the hotel to James Cowan. She died the following month, in childbirth.
The hotel was on a block of 62 acres, 2 roofs and 10 perches. In June 1913, ownership of the hotel block was transferred to Francis James Thomson Hepburn.
Mr Hepburn built a new two-storey timber hotel adjacent to the original hotel, although the date of completion is unknown.
Carmel says the original hotel building did not burn down.
“At some stage, the timber store building was removed but the original hotel building can still be seen in photographs from the early 1920s,” she explains.
TJ & JT Delaney bought the property in 1921 and subdivided with blocks in the Delaney’s Hotel Estate being offered for sale by auction on May 21, 1921.
Thomas Joseph Delaney had married Teresa Josephine Cruice, daughter of Rody Cruice, in 1914. The Delaneys retained ownership of the hotel, then on a 2 acre block, but the hotel business was conducted by lessees, one of them being Joseph Terence Cruice, brother of Teresa Delaney.
The Delaneys leased the property in February 1928 to The Castlemaine Brewery and Quinlan Gray & Co. for a term of 10 years at a rental of £12 per week. On March 10, 1937 ownership of the property was transferred to Castlemaine Perkins Limited.
The Crown Hotel has had a several owners since then, but has always remained an active part of the community.
Hotel manager Mantina Walker says locals appreciate it’s part of the area’s history.
Mantina says as you drive up the street, it’s there with two beautiful fig trees out the front. “You can sit out on the veranda under these trees. They are an iconic part of the hotel,” she says.
So has she seen any ghosts late at night?
“I’ve seen a figure of a woman in her 30s in the early hours of the morning. It was a peaceful figure,” she explains.
“Considering the age of the pub, there’s a few people that would have stories (of what they’ve seen), especially late at night.”
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