The Stork Hotel (Historical Site Excavations)

Dr Vincent Clark and Associates conducted excavations at three adjoining properties on the corner of Elizabeth Street and Therry Street in the Melbourne CBD. The buildings, one of which was the iconic Stork Hotel, were earmarked for demolition prior to the construction of a multi-storey residential development. The Stork was established at the time of the gold rushes in the 1850s and was one of Melbourne’s longest continually operational hotels. The other two sites had been used for such businesses as a saddler, magneto mechanic, ironmonger, and most recently, as a used car sales yard.

The excavations uncovered thick bluestone foundation walls and industrial fixtures. Thousands of artefacts were recovered from the site, including hundreds of glass pieces from wine, beer and gin bottles and fragments of crockery that were associated with the hotel. A champagne bottle with a paper label still attached was a particularly special find. But it was not all beer and skittles – complete soft drink bottles, ranging from torpedo bottles to Boon Spa bottles that dated to the 1950s and 1960s, were also recovered.

Many of the artefacts reflected the industrial use of the sites next to and behind the Stork Hotel, including leather offcuts, scrap metal, large files and other tools and coins. Some of these were sealed beneath a layer of ash and charred material that was deposited when the timber milling yard in the adjoining property caught fire in 1859.