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The trajectory of the history of the George Hotel, from grandeur to dilapidation and back again, is said to reflect the fortunes of St Kilda itself. While the current building was constructed in stages between 1880 and 1930, the Terminus Hotel, as it was known until 1868, was built in 1857 to cater to the passengers travelling from Melbourne to the newly opened St Kilda railway line terminus opposite. Frederick Wimpole was its proprietor and publican from 1874, while his son Frederick, took over from the 1900’s to the 1950’s.
During this period, the hotel underwent several physical renovations. The corner section, designed by Harry B Gibbs, is a large and ornate example of Boom-style Italianate architecture. By 1930 successive additions created a 169-room hotel, which rendered it one of the largest and most well known hotels in Victoria, and certainly the largest in Melbourne outside the city. The rear wing contains the large dining room, now known as the highly decorated and richly historical Ballroom.
By 1987, however, the hotel’s associations with drug dealing and other criminal behaviour led to a forced closure and de-licensing. In 1991, the hotel was reopened by restaurant entrepreneur Donlevy Fitzpatrick, whose visionary redevelopment in 1996-97 contained apartments, with bars, cafes and shops at ground level and the ballroom.