Balcony restoration for grand old icon

As scaffolding was erected alongside Castlemaine’s gracious old Midland Hotel in recent days it could not help but draw attention.
The iconic Midland featuring balcony with lavish flourish of yesteryear lace ironwork, framed by resident handsome established palm tree, is the face that greets all alighting at the town’s railway station.
And so it was that the Midland Express could not resist the urge to investigate.
A quick roadside conversation with members of the scaffolding team ensued.
Next up – a chat with Midland owner, the inimitable Mauro Zappulla, revealed that, indeed, a balcony restoration is impending.
“It’s always been nagging me as something that needed to be done,” Mauro says.
“We’ve been here for 40 years and the balcony has been closed and hasn’t been used for about 20 years.
“We’re raising the balustrade to a legal height – because people are getting taller – and we’re totally replacing the floor with a new floor – and repainting.”
“What will happen to the lace ironwork?” your correspondent wondered.
“I’m taking it to the tip,” replied Mauro (mischievously as it turns out) … before adding “no of course I’m not!”.
The Midland’s much admired heritage lace ironwork, he says, is in fact destined to receive some de-rusting treatment and repainting.
“I think the balcony is circa 1890,” the establishment’s current owner added.
“The building started out in 1879 as the Courts dining room, a single-storey structure, and then it grew and became the Castlemaine Coffee Palace.
“In the 1930s it was changed to the Midland.”
The Midland Hotel was designed and built to provide a place to stay for travellers visiting Castlemaine and the near area and its name was changed from The Castlemaine Coffee Palace following extensive renovations to the art deco style in the ’30s.
Mauro says building work for the Midland’s balcony restoration will be carried out by a well known local builder and is expected to occur over the next four months.
“It’ll look pretty schmick. Don’t worry,” he adds.

Early 20th century guests enjoy some leisure time on the balcony of Castlemaine’s Midland Hotel.