From the moment Mr Dunbar’s first hotel at 231–235 Lonsdale Street 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 Dandenongs 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
These renovations were demolished nine years later by new owners to make way for the construction of this 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 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 Street, that was said to provide
Dandenongs first building with its own water supply. The AMP building itself saw demolition as the new Civic Centre and Library was build on this and the former Mayfair site.
In the 1860’s Mr Dunbar was also responsible for the first property to be built at 221–229 Lonsdale Street. 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, becoming the Boomerang Theatre that opened in 1924. In 1950 it became known as the Mayfair Theatre and was demolished in 1968.
Image source: Dandenong & District Historical Society