Freeman on Ford
Bed & Breakfast
Beechworth's Finest Bed and Breakfast
97 Ford Street, Historical Precinct, Beechworth 3747
Thank you for enquiring about our Victorian guesthouse in the main street of Beechworth which up to recently was a former State Bank. The guest house at 97 Ford Street, is situated in the most enviable location; amongst the cultural end of this old gold mining town.
It is next door to the museum, a few doors away from the Beechworth Information Centre and Historical Precinct and a half a minute walk from the Post Office and the famous Beechworth Bakery!
It is opposite the Historic Granite Courthouse and Telegraph Office and the well known Bank Restaurant. Amazingly, it is also one of the main buildings in town and was designed by noted architect Leonard Terry and constructed in 1886 and remains substantially intact.
In the gold rush days it was an Oriental Bank and later used as a convent and school. It is a substantial two story building with a granite base. It has been associated with banking from the 1850’s until well into the twentieth century, (except for a short time as a convent – the second Brigidine Convent in Australia).
This guesthouse has four bedrooms. Four bedrooms are upstairs and all have queen sized beds, and luxuriously appointed ensuites with period tiles and fittings. Each bedroom has a fireplace with gas-lit flames and we also provide heating and cooling throughout the building. Each ensuite has French doors and most bedrooms boast antique beds and fittings.
All rooms have telephones with free calls throughout Australia, ( not mobile numbers ). There is also ethernet cabling and internet facilities in all bedrooms.
The house accommodates 8-10 people with onsite parking. The house also has a very large backyard with outside tables and seating to be enjoyed throughout the year. The house is discreetly hidden behind a green high gate and fence and guests can enjoy the luxuriously appointed bedrooms which have views over the main street of town.
The house is a few doors down from the Beechworth Information Centre and the town’s infamous Von Mueller Gardens. Many of the town’s main events are staged throughout the year in front of the building such as the Harvest Festival and many car rallies display their finest cars in front of the building. Antique fairs and exhibitions are also held two doors down in the Memorial Hall.
Freeman on Ford has been awarded Green Star Accreditation for its environmentally sympathetic policies by AAA Tourism.
The Bank residence was built in 1876 and was formerly known as the Brigidine convent of Mt. St. Joseph.
A brief history of the building State Bank residence:
The land was granted to the Oriental Bank on 25 August 1857 and the building constructed by 1866 to a design by noted architect Leonard Terry. It remained the Oriental Bank until at least 1884.
Around 1886 it was purchased by the Rev Dean Tierney of St Joseph’s Church for use as a convent and school by the Brigidine nuns. Dean Tierney had paid 1000 pounds for the building.
On 1st October 1886, four Brigidine nuns left Abbeyleix, Ireland to sail to Australia. After arriving at Williamstown on November 14, 1886, they finally arrived in Beechworth by train on Saturday November 27th 1886 to a very enthusiastic public welcome.
The sisters immediately set about establishing a convent in the Oriental Bank building, which today is the former State Bank in Ford Street. This was the second Brigidine Convent to be established in Australia! (The first being at Echuca, slightly earlier).
Reverend Mother, Mary Vincent Cummins, found that she was expected to repay the money of 1000 pounds, and in December 1886, the Mother Superior began to convert the bank into a convent and school, improvising to the extent that she made an altar out of a luggage case.
The bank chamber (in front lower part of the building facing the main street), was fitted with desks and benches in January 1887, and three rooms were furnished as dormitories. The garden ran through to Loch Street.
In February 1887 the boarding and day school for girls opened, but the building’s inadequacies soon become apparent. Mother Superior herself appealed to the parishioners for assistance to build a new convent.
Hence, the Sisters took over the permanent charge of St. Joseph’s school on the 17th January 1888, (in Priory Lane) and in the same year purchased ten acres of land adjacent to the school and stage one of a new convent and secondary school were begun there in 1888.
By 1906 this was the premises of the State Savings Bank of Victoria and remained so until the bank vacated the premises in 1988.
The residence has been recently restored with great detail to the Victorian era with many original features such as the fireplaces, stair case and ornate cornices. The exterior of the building has also been restored under the guidance of the town’s Historical Advisor and the town’s well respected firm the Historical Restoration Services. The back of the building was built in the 1920’s as an addition to the Bank.
At the moment, we are self-contained however, we will be offering the choice of a cooked breakfast by request only. (We can provide a full breakfast if guests wish), however, we are in a unique position in town where one can just walk to restaurants, hotels, cafes and gardens.
The beauty and luxury of this venue is its close proximity to the famous Beechworth Bakery (a ˝ minute walk) and the Bank Restaurant and other charming restaurants offering local gourmet selections of the finest wines and foods.
We have a list of local restaurants from Italian, Chinese, and Australian from the informal to the informal, which we can provide and bookings are recommended particularly on weekends. We are fortunate enough to be in the main street of town, and therefore once you park the car, you can walk to all the shops. Each night can offer a different dining experience within walking distance.
We supply linen & towels.
HEATING AND COOLING:
We are air-conditioned and heating is supplied by hydronic heating downstairs and gas fire-flamed fireplaces upstairs.
For Bookings or Inquiries
Phone 0357 282 371
FAX 0357 282 504
or Mobile 0417 140 921 and 0409 958 340
Please note, we require a booking for two nights on weekends.
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