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Central Hall, Melbourne


Central Hall (also known by its former name, Cathedral Hall) is a building that stands at the end of Brunswick Street in Fitzroymarker, Melbournemarker, Australia. This structure today serves as a centrepiece of Australian Catholic University'smarker St. Patrick's Campus. It once held a similar role within Melbourne’s Roman Catholic (and predominantly Irish) community, from the time the hall and adjoining clubrooms were opened in 1904.

The Building of Cathedral Hall

The first planning for the Catholic hall took place in 1901. Archbishop Thomas Carr, and the Dean Phelan, made several announcements to their parishioners at Mass and in parish meetings relating about a proposed hall. At this stage, the hall was to be built on the grounds of St. Patrick's Cathedralmarker, facing north on Albert Street. By October 1902 this idea had been abandoned since the hall would have obscured the view of the Cathedral from Albert Street (heading west to the Cathedral).

On November 8 of the same year, Archbishop Carr announced at Saturday evening Mass that the Archdiocese had acquired a property on Brunswick Street, a former boot factory built in 1873. The property had come at a 'very moderate' cost of £4,200.

The foundation stone of the hall was laid by the Archbishop at a ceremony on Sunday April 26, 1903, and work on the hall and the clubrooms proceeded on the designs of the architects Reed, Smart and Tappin. The clubrooms in the old factory structure were opened in June, but the hall itself was finished about a month behind schedule, and was not able to host the St. Patrick's night celebrations on March 17, 1904 as first hoped. Instead, the grand opening took place on Sunday, April 10, with over 2,000 people crowding the hall (which had a capacity of 1,100).

A brief history

Central Hall has been put to many different uses since it opened in April 1904. During the 1920s the hall played host to jazz nights, and in the postwar period, Cathedral Hall hosted Italian dances each Sunday night for many years.

Central Hall (as it became known from the 1960s) is best known for hosting the TF Much Ballroom of the early 1970s. T. F. Much Ballroom was a major Melbourne music and cultural event. Bands which made a name for themselves at Ballroom events include Daddy Cool in 1970-71. Other bands to play at the hall during the 1970s included Spectrum, Midnight Oil, Indelible Murtceps, and Tamam Shud.

By the late 1980s, Central Hall had even become a venue for Victorian state boxing matches and title fights.

Central Hall and Australian Catholic University

While still owned by the Archdiocese of Melbourne, Australian Catholic University was granted the use of Central Hall, and became the scene of the opening of St. Patrick's campus on July 28, 2000. The hall is regularly used for all of ACU's theatrical activities, while the Recital Room (formerly the Supper Room) with the hall also accommodates the university's music students, and other classes when absolutely necessary. Central Hall has undergone restoration in recent years, and was nominated for heritage listing in 2002.

References

  1. The Advocate, October 25, 1902, p. 17.
  2. The Advocate, November 8, 1902, p. 16.
  3. The Advocate, April 16, 1904, p. 12.
  4. The Advocate, June 8, 1922, p. 20; October 19, 1922, p. 20; June 28, 1923, p. 22; March 4, 1926, p. 18.
  5. Social Life - Guide to the Santospirito Collection
  6. The Boys Next Door Concerts
  7. Title Bout Championship Boxing
  8. G. McMullen, "A New Life for Central Hall", Footprints: Journal of the Melbourne Diocesan Historical Commission, 18 (no. 1) (June 2002), p. 23.
  9. W. Salter, "Restoring a Dame", Melbourne-Yarra Leader, December 27, 2001, p. 3.


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