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Prince Arthur Hotel

Thomas O’Brien established the Prince Arthur Hotel on the corner of Nott and Spring Streets, opposite the Bowling Club, in 1870. That original structure was rebuilt in 1882 to a design by architect T J Crouch.

The Prince Arthur was among the ten Port hotels that were delicensed in 1915. For the next seventy years or so the building was used by various proprietors to sell confectionery including a time in the 1960s into the 1970s when it was known as Seppi’s Milk Bar.

The photograph (below) shows the owner Ferdinand Todisco standing outside the building. Ferdinand and his wife, Edvige, ran the building as a rooming house from the early 1960s having bought it from Mrs Schumacher. The milk bar operated until the early 1970s and the Todisco family sold the building in 1981.

Seppi’s Milk Bar, late 1960s. PMHPS Collection. Courtesy Tony Cannatelli.

By the mid 1980s the building had been renovated and was operating as the Courtney Grubb graphic design studio. This was around the time that Arthur Rowan was photographing many of the old buildings in Port and South Melbourne including the former Prince Arthur Hotel.

Former Prince Arthur Hotel, c1985. PMHPS Collection. Photograph by Arthur Rowan, courtesy of Kay Rowan.

The external changes to the building are clear. The shop awning has been removed and the corner door has been converted into a window. The urns along the roofline have also been removed.

It is also interesting to note the changing streetscape. There are cars, for one thing. And trees that help to soften the hard edges of the old inner suburb. The high-rise buildings of Melbourne, in this case the Rialto towers, loom on the horizon.

Former Prince Arthur Hotel, November 2020. Photograph by David Thompson.

Since the 1980s the building has become a stylish residence.

At the end of 2020, the old hotel still bears the name Prince Arthur Hotel but it has gained a date (1870). The trees have grown a little and we have new planting where the footpaths have been extended to define the parking areas in Nott and Spring Streets.

There are even more high-rise buildings on the horizon in the City, the surrounding suburbs and even within Port itself although that’s not apparent in this picture.

The Prince Arthur Hotel plots how Port Melbourne has changed over the years. One of the many hotels established in the 19th Century, it hasn’t operated as a pub for over a hundred years. For most of the 20th Century the focus of the building changed to selling sweets to the local children rather than beer to their fathers. As gentrification came to Port in the 1980s the building became home to the modern occupation of graphic design and now in the 21st Century is a well established residence.


Pat Grainger, Chartered Scoundrels: A brief history of Port Melbourne hotels, 2007

Sands & McDougal’s Directories, State Library of Victoria, 1915-1974

Joseph Todisco via Facebook

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Acknowledgement of Traditional Custodians

We respectfully acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the land on which we meet and work, the Bunurong Boon Wurrung and Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung peoples of the Eastern Kulin Nation and pay respect to their Elders past, present and emerging.