JOHN: What do you think, darling?
ETHEL: I think I’d like to know a bit about the history of the place before we commit to anything. It looks quite old…
REAL ESTATE AGENT: That’s because it is, Mrs. Kelly. As you can see, it’s currently a lending library and a dry cleaner, but our records go back to 1895. At that time, this was the residence of a Mr. S. Spittle, furniture salesman. Spittle was a man known for his generosity, and he was likely here at home in bed on the night back in June of that year when he graciously allowed Mr. and Mrs. McKinelly use of Enterprise Hall, above his furniture warehouse, for a party.
Look, here’s the clipping from what must have been a very slow news day:
REAL ESTATE AGENT: Just three years later, Mr. Spittle had moved to another part of Newtown, making way for a Mr. J. Preston and his family. Under Preston, this shop became a newsagent…
REAL ESTATE AGENT: …which likely sold the very paper that, in 1901, contained the details of his granddaughter Rose Anna’s funeral train, which was headed straight for the Necropolis. Very sad. It’s believed she died in this house.
The records become a little hazy for a time after that.
By the 1920s, though, they’d gone from selling newsprint to, well, printing in their own style. If you wanted to have your photo taken in your best power outfit and then have your imperfections aerographed out, Dallimore’s was the place to go:
REAL ESTATE AGENT: Somehow, I don’t think rough-and-tumble Newtown was quite accepting of such an arty venture. Maybe one day…
Sure enough, the Kellys bought the shop, and only two years after that, Mrs. Kelly bought the farm…
…after which time John Kelly, formerly a milk bar proprietor, retired to Rockdale, and that’s where we lose the trail. It’s not until the mid 1980s that the chain of tenancy gets hot again, and what hotter place for it to do so than the Dew Drop Inn…
Hairdressers in Newtown are a dime a dozen, especially with slick, one-word names like Glitterbox. But if we look upwards, we see that this was once a very un-slick, many-worded Asian restaurant: the Dew Drop Inn.
It’s a name that’s usually reserved for seedy joints in 30s gangster movies. In fact the last place I’d ever expect to be associated with that name would be an Asian restaurant, especially – as the sign boasts – a gourmet one.
Unfortunately for this article’s integrity, the Dew Drop Inn seems to have dew dropped off the face of the planet, with nary a mention on the internet. All we can go on are the facts: one: it’s pre-1994 because it’s a seven digit phone number and two: it’s an Asian restaurant in Newtown without either an Asian name or a terrible pun.
And yet, for all this emptiness and lack of information, I’m intrigued. I need to know more. Did yew ever drop inn? Fess up in the comments.
Let’s dig deeper. According to this fascinating snapshot of an article from 1994, our location then became the State of Grace cafe.
Sheena Dunn, just back from New Orleans to open the State of Grace cafe, believes in the funky eclectism of the southern end. “It’s a strong neighbourhood, especially of artists and musicians,” she says. “This part of town really feels like what’s happening.” The cafe, open just one week, serves a silky Thai pumpkin soup, Spanish tortilla and home-made lemonade and coffee to the sound of S. E. Rogie and Miles Davis.
Gee, it’s truly a shame that we’ll never again be able to enjoy the eclectic funk of a Newtown cafe that serves tortillas and plays jazz music. Of note is that the article mentions the State of Grace had only been open a week; the article later provides the cafe’s phone number, which is without a 9. From this, we could assume that the shop’s preceding tenant was…the Dew Drop Inn.
But there’s one thing that’s bothering me. Given the suburb’s penchant for all things vintage and retro, could it be possible that someone just bought that sign and mounted it there as an artistic statement? Are we being tricked? Only in Newtown…
No doubt you’ve heard about the financial struggles faced by Darrell Lea over the past few months, and if you haven’t, you might want to rethink buying Mum and Dad a Rocklea Road for Christmas. It’s a sad thing when suddenly chocolate isn’t financially viable enough. What, did everyone just decide it was terrible after 85 years? Enough terrible puns were made by the papers at the time of Darrell Lea’s collapse, so I’ll spare us all that nightmare as today we look at the Roselands outlet of the chocolate maker.
Roselands Shopping Centre is up for an entry itself in the future, so watch this space (at the rate I’ve been going lately, it should only take another six years), but the part of Roselands Darrell Lea ended up in is one of its older areas. Located almost at the bottom of a downward escalator, you’d think maximum exposure + delicious chocolate would = maximum delicious profits. Well…
Plans for the empty shop involve an expansion by the neighbouring newsagent, which is so cramped and old it wouldn’t surprise me if they’d built the entire shopping centre around it. Hopefully, the doubling of their floorspace will allow much more room for their diligent army of plain-clothed guards to continue their campaign of death-staring at anyone they think might be shoplifting.
According to this article on the store’s closure, Darrell Lea admin chose to close Roselands (looks like I’ve met my assonance quota for the day), yet kept the Bankstown Centro store open. But commenter Brad Edwards reveals the truth:
In the second such instance, Civic Video has taken up residence in a former cinema. This time, the Paramount Theatre of South Hurstville continues to provide movies to the public through the video chain. Let’s take a closer look.
The Paramount was built in 1934, joining a sister cinema at Mortdale (since demolished) and only four other picture theatres in the Kogarah/Hurstville region: the Odeon at Carlton, the Oatley Radio, the Hurstville Savoy and the Kogarah Victory being the others. It’s a pretty damn big building, with a seating capacity of 1,100 when it was built. In 1950, that old vaudeville villain Hoyts (boo, hiss) bought the theatre and renamed it the Hoyts. Sounds much better too, doesn’t it? Hoyts closed the theatre in 1959 (I’m growing more and more convinced there was some kind of Hoyts conspiracy to buy up the suburban cinemas in order to get people to head into the city). Hoyts made sure that a covenant in the sales contract ensured the building could never again be used as a cinema.
Since 1959 it’s been used as a recreation centre, a supermarket and a giant Civic. In the last ten years as video shops have declined, Civic has cut down on its floorspace, sharing with a Subway, a newsagent, a Curves gym and some kind of computer shop out the back. Cramming more into less space isn’t just a residential thing anymore.
CRUSTY UPDATE: Here’s a look at the Paramount in its heyday courtesy of reader Carmen. Thanks!
You may be shocked, as I was, to learn that this address has been a newsagent since at least 1951, when a Mr. C. G. Sternbeck was appointed a ‘new newsagent’ for the Burwood area. To put this into perspective, his phone number had a letter in it. In 1947, this place was vacated by a fruit and vegetable store, so I’d put its period as a shoe store between 1947 and 1951, unless it predates the greengrocer and that’s the world’s hardiest paint. Jury’s out until the sample comes back from the lab, it seems.
Here’s a fun instance of ‘street musical chairs’. Exhibit A: Dalat Hot Bread in Concord West. An ordinary shop with an ordinary awning…
But on closer inspection we can see that it says Financial Review. Clearly, this was once a newsagent. But Concord Westians still need newspapers, so where did it go?
A few doors up along Concord Road is what is now the newsagent, but looking at that sign it was clearly once something else. It’s a tough sign to read, so I’ll leave open to interpretation, but I wonder why the newsagent moved? Was the rent too high two doors along? Were there not as many customers at that specific latitude?