Century-old former Maitland bank finally finds buyer after four years on the market

Alistair WalshJuly 3, 20120 min read

A 125-year-old former bank in Maitland NSW has sold after four years on the market at $1.25 million.

Built in 1887 at a cost of £20,000, the three-storey, former CBC bank was designed by George Allen Mansfield in the Italianate Classical Revival style, and the property bears his name.

The heritage-listed property is one of 53 buildings he designed for Commercial Banking of Sydney Ltd.

From 1888 to 1990 Mansfield was used exclusively as banking chambers by CBC Bank and later NAB.

A local citizen bought the property in 1990 and for eight years the ground floor remained vacant and boarded up, while the upper floors were intermittently leased out as office space, according to Heritage NSW documents.

Heritage NSW says this had the fortuitous effect of preserving the internal architecture of the original banking chambers.

The current owners, John and Barbara Murphy, bought the property in 1998 for $350,000.

They immediately set about restoring the property to set up a function centre and bed and breakfast business.

The sandstone building features terrazzo chequer-tile flooring, ornate cedar polished doors and windows, two large Doric marble columns, two large granite fireplaces, original embossed plaster ceilings, a wide cedar staircase and sandstone-arched windows.

A large amount of cedar wood was used in the construction, which was sourced from the nearby Paterson township in the 1880s.

While on the market the building has continued to operate as a $500 a night function centre with its grand foyer, function rooms, dining room, bar, former kitchen area and cool room. The main function room has seven-metre ceilings.

Upstairs the building has been used as a residence. Over the two upper floors there are 10 bedrooms, multiple bathrooms and kitchen facilities.

The property sits on 1,909 square metres and has a landscaped courtyard garden.

John Laws reportedly started his radio career here, when the top floor was used as a broadcasting room, according to former employee Ian S. Watts.

Watts says the bank was robbed in 1983 by two men who hid in the bank overnight. In the morning staff were bound and gagged and threatened with sawn-off shotguns.

Maitland was started as three separate settlements West Maitland, Morpeth and East Maitland which were amalgamated into the City of Maitland in 1945

Until the late 1800s Maitland was the predominant commercial and economic hub of the Hunter Valley, outstripping the penal settlement of Newcastle.

Agent Michael Maffey from Tony Cant Real Estate Maitland sold the property in April. The last asking price was $1.9 million plus, with the asking price having steadily decreased from $2.4 million in 2008.

Alistair Walsh

Deutsche Welle online reporter
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