285 Wellington Street
The Gem (c.2006 - present)
Steeth's Family Hotel (1875-1883), Curry's Family Hotel (1884 - c.2006)
Individually significant within HO 321; Appendix 7, p. 500-501
Kearney 1855: N ; Hodgkinson 1858: N ; MMBW: Detail Plan 1237, 1900
While Wellington Street was in the early days Collingwood's most densely populated and busiest street, it was quite short, running only from Victoria Parade to Johnston Street. The process of extending the road through private property towards Clifton Hill took place in the 1870s, and James Steeth, who had been a publican at the Village Belle in Abbotsford, must have seen the developing area as a good commercial proposition for a man with some capital to invest. Formerly a Sergeant of Police, in June 1875 he applied for a licence for Steeth's Family Hotel. 'He had recently received a legacy of 10,000 pounds, which the Police Magistrate said was of itself no recommendation.' ( The Argus, 5 June 1875, p. 6). Despite the magistrate's dry comment (a style not at all unusual at licensing hearings) the licence was granted. In the 1880s the hotel was taken over by Michael Curry, who renamed the hotel.
Curry's was significantly altered or re-built in 1927 in a distinctive Mediterranean Provincial Revival style with hipped roof, strutted eaves and a tiled dado, well-suited to its corner site. Of the older building, the original north wall definitely remains, as the lettering 'Steeth's Family Hotel' was visible for a short time when the neighbouring building was demolished in readiness for the construction of housing units in the 1990s.
At the youthful age of 25, Amy Robson became both owner and licensee of the Curry Family Hotel in 1997. After ten years working as a barmaid, she looked forward to controlling her own working environment and created 'a family-oriented, old-fashioned local watering hole which is not glamourous or chic bur certainly reflects its keeper's values of honesty, responsibility and nurturance...' Amy continues to work tirelessly among her "extended family" of "waifs, strays and refugees". ( Beyond the ladies lounge, p. 196).
Amy's Bar is no longer, but The Gem is continuing the tradition of being a welcoming and easy-going local for a drink or a meal. Locals still sometimes refer to the hotel as Curry's.