Control Data Australia Memories compiled by Brian Membrey

Mount Erica Hotel

 422 High Street, Prahran

Location

South-eastern corner of High Street and Williams Road, Prahran  

Memories

Ron Bird suggests the Mount Erica  was a favourite place for accounts people lunches led by Graham Doig and Col Elliott, but I remember several lunches there with analysts and sales people involved.

History

The Mount Erica probably rivals the Fawkner Club as the oldest hotel we visited, although the White Horse Inn used for a couple of reunions is also in the mix.

Like the College Lawn, the name was taken from a local place name that was still being used up until around 1900, the "mountain" the slight rise up High Street to the east (the Mount Erica Methodist Church survives in High street even today).

Building allotments were being advertised as early as 1853, alternatively described as East or Upper Prahran

The first reference to the hotel comes in the same year, when a license was issued to Benjamin Chamberlain, notes suggesting "a rude racecourse" [1] adjacent, 115 feet to High street and 170 along Williams Road. The building itself was note of wood, suggesting it covered just a small portion of the total site.

Like most of the early hotels, the Mount Erica regularly hosted election meetings and lodge gatherings.  Chamberlain sold the Mount Erica for £400 in 1861, at the same a ten-acre nursery he owned adjacent to the hotel was sold for £300.  The purchaser was not named, but he appears to have made a tidy profit with the hotel re-sold in 1871 for £1,150.

The original hotel is known to have been rebuilt in 1876 after a transfer of license was refused because of the condition of the building

"MOUNT ERICA Hotel, Dandenong-road, Upper Prahran - B. Chamberlain begs to announce to the inhabitants of Melbourne and vicinity that he has opened the above House, and as no expense has been spared, it is one of the most attractive houses out of Melbourne.  As a resort for those wishing to escape from the confined air and dust of Melbourne, it is most particularly recommended in a lofty situation, standing unrivalled for its beautiful view and refreshing sea breeze. To men of business, it also has attractions as a Auctioneer's and General Agency Office is attached. In the vicinity too there are being built large Stockyards for the sale of horses and cattle". The Argus, 16 September, 1853.

... jeez, we just wanted a quick lunch ...

Today

Although not as famed as the Station Hotel, the Mt. Erica also spent time as a rock music venue in the 1980s and 90s. Today, along with the College Lawn, it is probably the most radically expanded of the premises we frequented.  There is a new single-story bistro section extending perhaps twenty metres east along High Street with access to a central car park alongside.  

Whether this involved the demolition of other buildings is uncertain - the land in the image above appears to be fenced off and may have been part of the hotel grounds, the High Street side of the building in the image certainly appears less than the 117 feet originally quoted.


1 “A rude racecourse”?  Well, the horses are believed to have raced naked! I can however confirm the existence of a racecourse - Bell's Life", what we might term a "lifestyle "magazine was published from 1859 to 1864 and I have seen advertisements therein for the "Mount Erica Annual Races" which I'll dig out when time permits.