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With thanks to Woodend & District Heritage Society. The society meets on Wednesdays, 10am-4pm, at the old courthouse in Forest St, Woodend.
The tall, dark, handsome brick building on the right of this Woodend scene was originally a hotel. But by the time this picture was taken, sometime around 1880, it had become a private home.
Today it is the grand white double-storey house on the northern side of the Five Mile Creek bridge, a familiar sight on the main road through the village. And it is still known by the name it was given back then – Islay.
Islay House’s was a hotel for six years in total, under three names: from 1861-64, it was the British American Hotel and then Horneman’s Hotel, and 12 years later it was Patterson’s Hotel (1876-77).
Around this time, John Gilchrist ran a general store on the opposite side of High St (which you can see on the left of the photo). He and his wife Christina had a large family – eight of their 10 children survived to adulthood – and it’s thought they briefly lived in a small house next door to the hotel.
They solved the problem of lack of space by purchasing the hotel from Thomas Patterson in 1878, renaming it Islay (pronounced “eye-luh”) after the Scottish island where John Gilchrist was born.
📘 Time Gentlemen, Please!, by Jannyse Williams, tells the stories of more than 50 hotels from Woodend and the surrounding area. Buy the book here.
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