Thursday, 1 December 2016

Junior Medical Officer's House, Port Arthur

The Junior Medical Officer’s House was originally built in 1848 for Commissariat officer Thomas James Lempriere, his wife Charlotte and their large family. They had previously been living in a condemned wooden cottage situated below the ruin of the hospital and Lempriere threatened to resign if he was not provided with appropriate accommodation.

The family only lived in the house for seven months before they left Port Arthur.  They were replaced by the Colonial Surgeon, Dr Brock and later in 1853 by Dr Brownell. Hence the house was referred to as the Junior Medical Officer’s house as the medical officer lived there until 1873 when the schoolteacher, Mr Todd, took over residence. Mr Todd would also provide visitors with room and board in the house.

The house has twice been used as a hotel. In the early 1900’s, it was known as “Tasman Villa” From 1921 until 1959 it was known as Hotel Arthur. It became the base for the cast & crew of the classic movie, “For the Term of His Natural Life” who stayed there when the movie was shot in 1927. The convict era kitchen at the rear of the building was the hotel dining room.  The hotel finally closed in 1959.

A fine example of Georgian architecture, the building has been restored and furnished in the style of the 1850’s and is one of the buildings on the Port Arthur site that is open for inspection at various times. Well worth taking the time to have a look through this beautifully restored house.

Main Text & Information Sources – 
Interpretive Signs at the site
“Port Arthur – Convicts & Commandants” - Walter B Pridmore