Rydges Hobart History
The site on which Rydges Hobart has been established was formerly known as Brickfields, named after the industry which took place in the area. After the Brickfields area was closed, it then became part of the early Tasmanian Institutional network.
In 1842, a depot for female convicts was opened. Brickfields became a holding station for women convicts from 'Anson', the floating probation station moored in Prince of Wales Bay nearby. After this depot was closed the area was converted into an invalid and pauper depot for men from 1859 - 1883 and from 1883-1886 a depot for immigrants. In 1886 the complex was demolished barring the Superintendents cottage, which still stands today and is presently suites 34 & 35 of the hotel. Both of the cottages are listed under National Trust.
After this demolition of the site, the Institute for the Deaf & Blind was established. The Society for the benefit of the Tasmanian blind was formed in 1887. Their motto 'Help the blind help themselves' reflected their idea that a combination of educational and industrial training would enable the blind to become more self-reliant.
The Institution officially opened in 1889. The main building (present day reception) was used as a school, workrooms, dining room & kitchen. In 1916 at a cost of $5000 pounds, the complex was extensively remodelled to include new dormitories, staff rooms, kitchen, dining room & bathroom facilities and later the gymnasium and Braille library. The grounds were further established to include croquet lawns and tennis courts. In 1959 to further develop their self-reliance, a factory was built onsite, where students produced brushes, baskets, mats, cane chairs and miscellaneous hardware goods, which were then sold to the general public. This factory is still situated on the corner of Lewis & Letitia streets, however no longer in operation.
At its conception in 1901 the school housed 3 boarders and day students, this number steadily grew to 50 by 1914. By the 1970's a new policy was introduced of integrating students with disabilities into regular schools. The building was then used solely as administration space after the schools closure.
In 1989 the present hotel complex was developed consisting of 44 Modern suites and 20 Executive Antique suites. As of 2006 further renovations have occurred throughout the hotel furthering the sites colourful history of change.
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