Thursday, 9 May 2013

Ingle Hall, Hobart

Much research has been done into the subject of this building's history. Yet, despite the investigations by historians, scholars and architects, mystery still surrounds the building's origins.
The Georgian-style building, undeniably one of the oldest surviving buildings of its type in Australia, was not known as "Ingle Hall" until the latter part of the 19th century. Until then, official documents refer to it simply as "the building on the corner of Macquarie and Argyle Streets, Hobart."

Who was its first occupant? Early settler and merchant John Ingle or Edward Lord? They were friends; both came to old Hobart Town in 1804 with Lieutentant -Governor David Collins; and both are known at some stage to have owned the building.
Opinion is divided as to whether John Ingle was its first occupant as early as 1811, or whether it was his friend Edward Lord. Even the date is disputed. Its occupancy could have been as much as three years later in 1814. The problem is, before 1822 Tasmania - or Van Diemen's Land as it was then known - had not established an official government records office. Lord's great-great grandson, the late Mr E. R .Henry, of Hobart, extensively researched the subject and concluded Ingle Hall was in fact established in 1814 by his ancestor. Quoting from Reverend Robert Knopwood's Diary in November 1814, "a great ball and supper was given by Mr and Mrs Lord to all ladies and gents in the colony, the greatest dinner given in the colony." Knopwood was a good friend of both Lord and Ingle.

There is also documentary evidence that Lord sold the residence and store on that site to John Ingle in 1831 for £4000 as part of a debt. However, that is not to say Ingle had not previously owned the building.
Over the years, Ingle Hall has known many owners - and been used for many purposes.

c. 1814 to 1846: Residence and store/warehouse (Edward Lord, John Ingle, Lewis and Sons, et al)
c. 1846-1849: School house (the original Hutchins School)
c. 1850-1890: Residence (Moore, et al)
c. 1890-early 1900s: Tasmanian Coffee Palace ( Anderson, Archdiocese of Tasmania, et al)
c. 1935: Boarding house
c. 1949-50: Crown Lands Department purchased the building.
c. 1950 -1962: Used by the State Government as the Lady Clark Memorial Library.
c. 1962- today: Owned by Davies Brothers Limited, owners of the Mercury.
The building and front landscaping had been classified by the National Trust. The register of the National Estate lists the site and its buildings, and the Hobart Planning Scheme's heritage register lists the site as being significant and includes the site within its Heritage Area.

The building is used by the Mercury  newspaper as a museum. Tasmania's printing heritage is the focus of the special museum, which occupies the entire ground floor, covering the history of early printing in Tasmania, the development of the Mercury from 1854 to today, and the evolution of 19th, 20th and 21st century printing. Displays range from a collection of early printing memorabilia covering the early days of typesetting by hand with "movable type", the development of "hot metal" type, and today's computer-based typesetting techniques. 

The Mercury Print museum at Ingle Hall is currently closed to the public.