A grand landmark: The Hotel Culcairn and publican William Scholz

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The original Culcairn Hotel, 1891. Picture: Supplied

William Scholz June 1930

Frederick William Scholz

ONE of the magnificent landmarks of the NSW railway town of Culcairn is its grand hotel, built for Frederick William Scholz in 1911.

The original single storey Culcairn Hotel was constructed in 1891 for local businessman, Alexander McBean, who did a deal with large landowner, James Balfour.

Balfour, a teetotaller, offered to sell McBean a parcel of his large land holdings on the condition that he build a first-class licensed hotel with “good management”, so “that it might not be a snare to the men in our employment”.

McBean agreed on the condition that Balfour place a clause in the sale of further of his properties, preventing their use for hotel purposes.

The deal was done, and on completion, McBean’s new hotel was immediately leased to Francis H. Furner.

Furner gained a license for the single storey brick building in July 1891 and he hosted the hotel until 1896.

Frederick William Scholz, who had previously hosted a pub at Walla Walla, 14 miles from Culcairn, took over the license from Furner in December 1896.

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The Walla Walla Hotel, Walla Walla, NSW, March 1927. Frederick William Scholz hosted this pub before taking the reins of the nearby Culcairn Hotel in 1896. Picture: Noel Butlin Archives, Australian National University

Scholz was born to German immigrants at Angus, South Australia in 1867, but spent the greater part of his life in NSW. He was 28 years of age when he and his wife, Louisa, took over the Walla Walla Hotel in 1896. They had a short stay as hosts, and by the end of the year were running the nearby Culcairn Hotel.

With the death of Alexander McBean, Scholz purchased the freehold of the hotel in 1901, and in 1911 added the second storey, making it the largest hotel between Sydney and Melbourne.

On completion the hotel had an accommodation of over 70 rooms, stables, a coach house and extensive gardens.

Patrons of the hotel could drive their coach or horse to Culcairn, stable it and catch the train over 500km to Sydney, or the 400km to Melbourne.

The Sydney Mail and New South Wales Advertiser reported on February 22 1911:
The Hotel Culcairn: Fine Example of a Country Hotel

FOURTEEN years ago Mr. F. W. Scholz took over the old hotel — a small, one-storeyed building on the present site — on a five years’ lease, and then bought it. There were at that time only two or three buildings in Culcairn, but even then there was a good deal of railway traffic at the junction town. The lack of an efficient water supply was felt at the time, and 14 shillings or 12 shillings per 1000 gallons had to be paid for water.

About six years ago, however, a shaft was sunk near the hotel, and water was struck at 100 feet. The proprietor then set to work on the extensive and exceedingly beautiful gardens which now form part of the hotel grounds. A second story and ornate superstructure were lately added to the original building, the whole being completed a few months ago at a cost of £3,000.

The hotel contains 50 rooms, and is furnished in oak throughout. There are extensive verandahs and balconies back and front. The building is electrically lighted, and the dining and smoke rooms are fitted with electric fans. The electric light plant is driven by a 28-h.p. suction gas engine, which generates sufficient power to light the hotel, about ten stores, School of Arts, council chambers, police station, and billiard-room.

Mr Seholz has erected a big row of eight brick shops alongside the hotel. At the rear there are large livery stables for the convenience of travellers.

culcairn hotel 1911

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On completion, Scholz leased his grand new hotel, and he and his family spent four years in Melbourne, before moving back to NSW and Goulburn in 1920, where he took over the Hotel Goulburn, then known as the Commercial Hotel. He purchased the hotel, which, like the Culcairn, he remodelled, transforming its appearance almost entirely.

Scholz later hosted the Royal Hotel, also in Goulburn, where he became a prominent citizen. His public activities in Goulburn included: President of the Aero Club, patron of the Goulburn Trotting Club, president Goulburn Racing Club, member of A.P. and H. Society, member of Tourist Bureau, patron of the Goulburn National Rules Football.

The old publican died in 1934 at the age of 66, leaving his widow, Louisa, three daughters, and three sons.

After his death the Culcairn Hotel was purchased by Carlton United Brewery.

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Culcairn Hotel, Culcairns, NSW, 1924. Picture: Noel Butlin Archives, Australian National University

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Culcairn Hotel, gardens, Culcairns, NSW, 1924. Picture: Noel Butlin Archives, Australian National University

The township of Culcairn, located in the south-east Riverina region of NSW, was established in 1880 and became the hub for the railway system with rail lines through to Wagga Wagga, Albury, Holbrook and also to Corowa.

The town itself was laid out in 1880 by James Balfour, a local landowner, who named it after a property in the parish of Kiltearn, his mother’s birthplace.

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Culcairn Hotel, Culcairns, NSW, 1949. Picture: Noel Butlin Archives, Australian National University

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Hotel Culcairn C1980. Picture: Supplied

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The Culcairn Hotel. Picture: Pat Adams.

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The main bar of the Culcairn Hotel. Picture: Culcairn Hotel

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Hotel Culcairn, Culcairn, NSW 2019. Picture: Pat Adams

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Culcairn Hotel dining room. Picture: Culcairn Hotel

The construction of the Sydney to Melbourne railway saw Culcairn grow significantly.

For its size, Culcairn has a large number of substantial heritage buildings including the historic Culcairn Hotel, Memorial Hall, Court House, Railway Station and Station Master’s Residence.

The hotel boasted the town’s first power supply in 1909. The Land newspaper reported on Friday 14 February 1919:

Town in Darkness.

The power-house at the Hotel Culcairn, which supplies the town with water and electric light, was destroyed by fire last week. It is thought that the cause of the outbreak was the fusing of a wire. The licensee of the hotel estimates the damage at £500. The streets of the town are in darkness, and private and business houses are without light until new machinery is installed. Fortunately other water is obtainable.

For a long period, the Culcairn Hotel was the largest hotel between Sydney and Melbourne.

Culcairn sits on the main railway line between Sydney and Melbourne and is serviced by the NSW TrainLink XPT service, which runs twice daily and stops at the local railway station.

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Hotel Culcairn, Culcairn, NSW 2019. Picture: Pat Adams

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Hotel Culcairn, Culcairn, NSW 2019. Picture: Pat Adams

– With thanks to culcairnhotel.com.au and Wikipedia.

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