Ex-premier’s family buys iconic Freemasons Hotel
By Michael Sinclair-Jones
A DUSTY eyesore (right) in the centre of Toodyay’s busy tourist precinct thas been earmarked for future development with the long-anticipated sale of the town’s iconic Freemasons Hotel.
Former owners Stella and John Pearce ended their 33-year association with the heritage-listed hotel and vacant corner block in the middle of last month.Read more
Mr Pearce said he and his wife would remain in Toodyay and were both looking forward to travelling.
The vacant corner block was once occupied by a large hardware store but has lain empty for several years.
The hotel – which was first licensed in 1861 as the Newcastle Hotel with stables at the rear before extensive additions, renovations and a name change – has been bought by the family of former WA premier Colin Barnett.
Mr Barnett has a long association with Toodyay through his ownership of a rural property in Julimar, which his family uses as a country retreat.
His son Sam has lived there for the past 18 months after frequently visiting Toodyay as a child and is now the family’s business representative at the Freemasons’ Hotel.
He declined to be photographed or comment to The Herald about the purchase.
However, within days of last month’s settlement, a large area of brick paving in the hotel’s rear beer garden was ripped up and replaced with lawn.
The hotel’s TAB betting licence has been retained.
It is understood future plans include repainting the hotel’s classic federation-style exterior in heritage colours and carrying out internal renovations and refurbishment in the building’s original style.
No building plans have been lodged for the vacant corner block but it is understood the site is earmarked for future development, possibly for accommodation.
It is understood the Barnett family wants to turn the hotel and corner block into a “focal point for the town”.
The hotel’s new ownership follows the recent sale of the Toodyay’s historic Victoria Hotel and modern IGA store to the Perth-based Guru Brothers, which owns similar stores in Perth and Meekatharra.
The Toodyay store’s new owners were still waiting at the end of last month for State Government approval to resume Lotto ticket sales at the front counter.