It was the year of 1864, brothers Lawrence and Thomas Mountjoy who are generally regarded as the founders of Lorne, built a 2-room dwelling at the Erskine River, which they enlarged in 1868 due to an increase in tourism to the area.
This dwelling, situated at the confluence of the Erskine River, again underwent extensive extensions in January 1875, almost doubling the accommodation in order to hold the ever-increasing stream of tourists making their way down to the area. As a reaction to this increased tourism, Joseph and Elizabeth Duncan publicly announced their plan to build a licensed Hotel at Loutit Bay.
Loutit Bay, having become so popular a piece of resort by picnic parties and pleasure seekers, Mr. Duncan is about to open an hotel there, most probably on January 1st next. This will add greatly to the attraction of the place, as extra accommodation above that already provided is a want that has long been felt.
– The Geelong advertiser December 9, 1875.
The Duncans were right on track, and in January 1876, the Lorne Hotel opened its’ doors to the public. John Rooke was the new “Mine-Host” at the Lorne Hotel until Christina Umhauer took control in 1912. The next lady in charge was Ada Leydin, who, after just under two years of being licensee of the Lorne Hotel, had to stand by and watch the hotel being eaten by flames in November 1919.
The fire started during the night and burnt through the entire Hotel. It was moving slow enough for all residents and even the furniture to be saved from the flames, however, due to the lack of water pressure, the building itself could not be saved.
Rebuilding of the hotel started in 1920, when a new two-storey brick building rose from the ashes. It included 40 bedrooms, smoking rooms, a dining hall, kitchen, electric light and even tennis and croquet lawns as well as a bowling green. Another luxurious feature was the motor garage, which held up to 12 vehicles. Since that day, the Hotel has undergone numerous renovations.
– Adapted from lornehotel.com.au