A multimillion project restoring Maryborough icon, the Bull and Mouth Hotel to its former glory is nearing completion.
Owner of the High Street landmark, Issy Arieli, was busy last week overseeing work to connect gas and water to the historic building.
Melbourne based Mr Arieli says that over the past four years “millions” of dollars have been spent restoring the heritage protected hotel comprising an original rear 1800s building and the imposing street frontage building dating from 1904.
The leasehold of the hotel is now up for sale and Mr Arieli is keen to find a lessee who shares his vision for the feature-rich building.
“I want to find a good operator to lease the hotel and set it up as a four or five star hotel,” he said.
Mr Arieli said his vision for the central slice of Maryborough heritage is to see it become a tourist drawcard.
“There aren’t many grand hotels like this in their original format,” he said naming Bendigo’s Shamrock and Ballarat’s Craig hotels as two other examples.
“It’s all been upgraded and restored to close to how it was when it was first built,” he said.
“It’s become grand again.
“When it’s all painted and complete it will be the town centerpiece, besides the train station.”
Works have now been completed to restore 14 upstairs guest rooms each featuring heritage details true to the original, and each with an en suite.
A manager’s residence and guest living room are also included on the second level.
Victorian cornices, imposing archways, brass light fittings, plaster ceiling roses throughout, and original heritage colours are among the hotel’s features.
Maryborough painter and decorator John Robertson has been working on the project on and off for the past three years.
He says it has now entered the last of three stages.
“I joke and say it’s a part-time job but the application is really above that,” said Mr Robertson who has worked on several other heritage restoration projects in the region, including the Dunolly courthouse.
“It’s a very responsible job because of the heritage details.”
When works nearing completion downstairs are finalised, the hotel will also be well suited to functions such as weddings and conferences, Mr Arieli said.
Downstairs includes two cellars, a commercial kitchen, bar, bistro and function areas.
Besides the foyer stairway with its pressed metal and ornate timber detail, there’s also an elevator ready to be installed, to connect the two storeys.
An in-house water filtration system is also ready for installation, Mr Arieli said.
At street level — and intended to operate entirely separately to the hotel and accommodation aspects — three retails spaces have already been leased, Mr Arieli said.
“The Jolly Miller café which is starting to develop a retail chain, obtained a five-year lease on the three downstairs shop spaces at the start of April,” he said.
While not able to give an absolute date as to when all works will be finalised, he said the end is in sight.
“We’re getting toward the home stretch.”