Statement of Significance
The facade and verandah of the former Unicorn Hotel at 127 Sturt Street, Ballarat, was built in or around 1863 or 1866 as a substantial brick facade to an earlier timber structure which had opened in 1856 as the Unicorn Hotel (Thomas Vaughan, publican), only the third hotel in the western part of Ballarat. The timber structure was soon replaced by the main building part of which has survived (The surviving elements of the main building have not been included in the Register save for the front 12 metres). The former Unicorn Hotel occupies a prominent location in Sturt Street with the western side of the building providing access to what became called Unicorn Lane or Passage. The design has been attributed to architects Caselli and Figgis. The verandah was elaborated in the 1880s to include cast iron work and a parapet adorned with a unicorn statue - long since removed. Upstairs the layout of rooms suggests the original use of the building as a hotel. The front room opens by way of French doors to the balcony.The external facade is composed on the upper floor of French doors surmounted by austerely detailed Renaissance hoods and consoles with a pediment over the central door. The building has a particularly elegant and early verandah and balcony which tend to overshadow the facade. It is a two storey version of the early single storey flat roofed and balustraded post verandah. The building ceased to operate as a licensed hotel from 1952, and the ground floor facade was compromised when replaced with glazed shop fronts.
How is it significant?
The facade and verandah of the former Unicorn Hotel in Sturt Street, Ballarat, is of cultural heritage significance to the State of Victoria for architectural, historical and social reasons and for the substantial contribution it makes to a notable nineteenth-century streetscape.
Why is it significant?
Architecturally, the facade and verandah of the former Unicorn Hotel is significant because of its status as part of one of Ballarat's oldest extant hotel buildings.The fine and elegant verandah and balcony are highly unusual in this form. This is the only remaining two storied parapeted verandah in Victoria. Slender cast iron columns with Corinthian capitals support ground floor brackets, swag bellied balcony panels, double timber bressumer with frieze iron inserts, cornice and brackets. Much of this detail is in place and is of high aesthetic value. The now flat surfaced parapet originally had an elaborate set of balusters with a unicorn statue mounted centrally. The aesthetic contribution of the facade and verandah to its notable Sturt Street environment is substantial.
Historically and socially the former Unicorn Hotel is significant because of its role in the life of Ballarat and of Victoria since the gold rushes of the 1850s. Known as 'The Corner', the Unicorn adjoined the Mining Exchange and the building accommodated offices for stock brokers and share traders from the 1860s until the late 1880s and was a popular gathering point at times of intense share speculation as was the street outside the Hotel. Although the ground floor has been substantially altered, the continuing existence of the Sturt Street frontage illustrates the general association of the hotel with mining speculation in the nineteenth century, and endow the structure with important historical associations. (See Anthony Trollope's description of trading in mining shares "under the verandah" in Trollope's Australia. ed. Hume Dow, 1966)
FORMER UNICORN HOTEL FACADE AND VERANDAH - HistoryContextual History:
History of Place:
The original Unicorn Hotel was built c.1856, the third hotel to be built in Ballarat after Baths (now Craigs Royal Hotel) and the George. The early building was timber and a substantial brick facade was added c.1866. Possibly later that year the existing brick building replaced the timber building behind the facade. Photographic evidence suggests that the verandah was altered in the 1880s to include the cast iron work and the parapet with unicorn statue. The architectural firm Caselli and Figgis advertised in 1885-86 that Popjoy's Unicorn Hotel was one of their designs. Popjoy owned the building from about 1870 until the 1890s. The Unicorn operated as a hotel until 1957 when it became a private hotel. It closed in 1973.
FORMER UNICORN HOTEL FACADE AND VERANDAH - Assessment Against Criteria
The historical importance, association with or relationship to Victoria's history of the place or object.
The former Unicorn Hotel has historical associations with Ballarat's prosperity during the quartz mining boom when stockbrokers gathered under its verandah and trading took place in front of the hotel. This area became known as "The Corner" and was immortalised by Anthony Trollope in the book "Australia" in 1873 when he noted his impressions of Ballarat.
The importance of a place or object in demonstrating rarity or uniqueness.
The place or object's potential to educate, illustrate or provide further scientific investigation in relation to Victoria's cultural heritage.
The importance of a place or object in exhibiting the principal characteristics or the representative nature of a place or object as part of a class or type of places or objects.
The importance of the place or object in exhibiting good design or aesthetic characteristics and/or in exhibiting a richness, diversity or unusual integration of features.
The former Unicorn Hotel exhibits fine design features in its Classical Revival style detailing on the facade and the two-storey cast iron verandah with its slender columns and intricate frieze work.
The importance of the place or object in demonstrating or being associated with scientific or technical innovations or achievements.
The importance of the place or object in demonstrating social or cultural associations.
Any other matter which the Council considers relevant to the determination of cultural heritage significance
FORMER UNICORN HOTEL FACADE AND VERANDAH - Permit ExemptionsGeneral Conditions:
1. All exempted alterations are to be planned and carried out in a manner which prevents damage to the fabric of the registered place or object.
2. Should it become apparent during further inspection or the carrying out of alterations that original or previously hidden or inaccessible details of the place or object are revealed which relate to the significance of the place or object, then the exemption covering such alteration shall cease and the Executive Director shall be notified as soon as possible.
3. If there is a conservation policy and plan approved by the Executive Director, all works shall be in accordance with it.
4. Nothing in this declaration prevents the Executive Director from amending or rescinding all or any of the permit exemptions.
Nothing in this declaration exempts owners or their agents from the responsibility to seek relevant planning or building permits from the responsible authority where applicable.
* Minor repairs and maintenance which replace like with like.
* Removal of extraneous items such as air conditioners, pipe work, ducting, wiring, antennae, aerials etc, and making good.
* Installation or repair of damp-proofing by either injection method or grouted pocket method.
* Painting of previously painted walls and ceilings provided that preparation or painting does not remove evidence of the original paint or other decorative scheme.
* Removal of paint from originally unpainted or oiled joinery, doors, architraves, skirtings and decorative strapping.
* Installation, removal or replacement of carpets and/or flexible floor coverings.
* Installation, removal or replacement of curtain track, rods, blinds and other window dressings.
* Installation, removal or replacement of hooks, nails and other devices for the hanging of mirrors, paintings and other wall mounted artworks.
* Refurbishment of bathrooms and toilets including removal, installation or replacement of sanitary fixtures and associated piping, mirrors, wall and floor coverings.
* Installation, removal or replacement of ducted, hydronic or concealed radiant type heating provided that the installation does not damage existing skirtings and architraves and provided that the location of the heating unit is concealed from view.
* Installation, removal or replacement of electrical wiring provided that all new wiring is fully concealed and any original light switches, pull cords, push buttons or power outlets are retained in-situ. Note: if wiring original to the place was carried in timber conduits then the conduits should remain in-situ.
* Installation, removal or replacement of bulk insulation in the roof space.
* Installation, removal or replacement of smoke detectors and exit signs.
FORMER UNICORN HOTEL FACADE AND VERANDAH - Permit Exemption PolicyThe facade and verandah of the former Unicorn Hotel have architectural, historical and social significance. The main features of architectural note are the verandah, front facade and front room on the first floor.
The purpose of the permit exemptions is to allow works that do not impact on the significance of the place to occur without the need for a permit. Alterations that impact on the significance of the exterior and interior are subject to permit applications.
FORMER BALLARAT EAST FREE LIBRARYVictorian Heritage Register H1493
Former Police Station, BallaratVictorian Heritage Register H1544
BALLARAT TRADES HALLVictorian Heritage Register H0657