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This lavish interior depicted in this retouched black and white photograph is that of The Marble Bar in Tattersall’s Hotel, Pitt Street, Sydney. The hotel’s proprietor, George Adams, spared no expense in refurbishing his premises, the highlight of which was the elegant saloon that became known as The Marble Bar.
Illuminated by both gas and electricity, the gleaming surfaces of its interior were sourced from such exotic locations as The Pyrenees, Italy and Africa. A sparkling effect was achieved through the use of an illuminated frieze and mirrors of plate glass with bevelled edges.
According to the Sydney Morning Herald, at the formal opening of the bar in 1892 were the mayor, several councillors, sporting identities and the painter Julian R. Ashton, several of whose works graced the walls. The mayor praised Mr Adams for his enterprise in causing such a superior saloon to be erected and said he was informed that there was no bar in the world more superior in its decorations and comforts to Tattersall’s.
The photograph was reproduced as a Christmas card in the form of a post-card inscribed verso with the words:
Compliments of the Season of Adams’ Marble Bar’
At a time when collecting post-cards was a popular pursuit this was most likely an effective form of advertising.
The Marble Bar was to become a Sydney institution and, in 1970, having been classified by the National Trust, was dismantled rather than demolished. The surrounding Tattersall’s Hotel, by then known as Adams’ Hotel, was not so lucky. The Bar was reassembled and opened in 1973 in its present location, the basement of Sydney’s Hilton Hotel. The Australian Women’s Weekly published an interview with the architect in charge of the restoration in 1971.
The Marble Bar of the 1970s preserved its 19th century interior but its regulations changed with the times and women were admitted into what was once an exclusively male domain.
Post by Kathy Hackett, Photo Librarian
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