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Thursday, March 24, 2016

Lonsdale Street, Dandenong, Undated.

From the moment Mr Dunbar’s first hotel at 231 – 235 Lonsdale St was completed in the early 1850’s it acted as the social headquarters for residents and visitors to Dandenong. It served as meeting rooms, held Dandenong’s first court sessions, served as the early post office and rested teams of Cobb & Co horses in its stables. By 1877 (after he’d built another hotel next door) Mr Dunbar converted this original hotel into banking premises and a shop.
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These renovations were demolished nine years later by new owners to make way for the construction of a second hotel – The Royal – that would remain on that site for the next 80 years. The Royal was demolished in the early 1960’s to make way for the former four storey AMP building which itself became a first in Lonsdale St, the likes of which had never been seen before. At the time of demolition two deep wells – made from handmade bricks – were uncovered under 231 – 235 Lonsdale St – that was said to provide Dandenong’s first building with its own water supply.
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In the 1860’s Mr Dunbar was also responsible for the first property to be built at 221 – 229 Lonsdale St. It was a two storey hotel that remained intact until 1922 when the hotel was replaced with an arcade and shops later known as the Mayfair shops. The rear of this property facing Thomas Street was subdivided and was the site of the Boomerang Theatre that opened in 1924. In 1950 it became known as the Mayfair Theatre and was demolished in 1968.
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In 1869 Dandenong welcomed another important building at 209 - 211 Lonsdale St. Separated from Dunbar’s Hotel with vacant treed land, the imposing and ornate Commercial Bank was built. The Commercial Bank also remained with its original fa├žade until 1964 when it was demolished for retail development. Its replacement was a two storey brown brick building typical of architecture in the 1960’s.


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