In 1898, Walter Powell, an accountant in Fremantle, was granted a liquor license for a small hotel opposite Coogee Beach known as Four-mile Well, a property owned by his wife Letitia. He called it Powell’s Coogee Hotel in his promotions, though it was most often simply known as Coogee Hotel.

He immediately set about extending and improving the property and turned the area into a sporting haven and picnic spot, calling it ‘The garden of the West’. It became known as the Honeymoon Hotel, attracting visitors from all over Perth and WA. Local clubs of cricket, hunting, cycling, shooting and horseracing all met at the hotel or stopped for a drink. Powell built a racecourse beside his hotel and set up prizes to encourage local owners to participate.

Picnic at Coogee Hotel c1905

A picnic at the hotel about 1905 – probably for a sporting event or a local business’s employee picnic

 

In the mid-1920s, Powell’s brother-in-law Jock McKinnon opened a small shop and post office in the hotel grounds. This took over business from the previous post office/store slightly further south, run by Powell’s siblings, Blanche and Fred, who retired to Fremantle.

Powell died in 1923, after handing the license over to his son. The license changed hands several times in the next few years, until in 1927 the De-Licensing Board decided there were too many hotels in the area and withdrew the Coogee Hotel liquor license. The hotel was offered for rent as a seaside holiday home the next year.

In 1931 the empty hotel was purchased by the Anglican Church to be a holiday home for their orphans, used only during the summer months. In 1946, fearing it would be overtaken by squatters desperate for housing in a post-war shortage, they renovated it and opened a permanent home there.

Orphan boys unloading truck, Coogee 1940s

Orphan boys unloading truck, Coogee 1940s

Orphans and staff having a bbq out the back of Seaside House, 1948

Orphans and staff having a bbq out the back of Seaside House, 1948

 

The house remained an orphanage until 1968, when Main Roads announced it was resuming the land to build a high-capacity road to Rockingham and the building would be demolished. The orphans moved out, but the Hotel was not knocked down, instead becoming headquarters for the Coogee Progress Association and various other offices.

A north wing was added in the 1990s and the site was heritage listed in 2001. It is owned by Main Roads, and there is no concrete plan for its future.