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    CENTURY AND BEYOND: Sister-brother owners of Murtoa’s Marma Gully Hotel, Thelma Wakelam and Geoff Summers, display the 1919 photograph they will re-create on Friday. Bob Trotter and Bev Buckley, who helped the pair in getting a hotel renovation off the ground, are also pictured. Picture: PAUL CARRACHER
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    Thelma Wakelam, Geoff Summers, Bev Buckley and Bob Trotter are recreating an historic photo at Murtoa's Marma Gully Hotel.
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    Murtoa's Bev Buckley with a mural she painted in the Marma Gully Hotel in 2003.

Centenary photo for Murtoa's Marma Gully Hotel regeneration

New owners of Murtoa’s historic Marma Gully Hotel will launch a resurrection of the iconic building with a re-enactment of a photograph celebrating the end of the First World War.

Melbourne siblings Geoff Summers and Thelma Wakelam are calling on people from across Murtoa district to join them between 3pm and 6pm Friday for a 5.30pm photograph in front of the building.

The Marma Gully Hotel was built in 1913. The original photograph in 1919 and the new image will represent a centenary celebration of the event.

“We’re inviting people from Murtoa district to gather at the hotel on the corner of Marma Street and Duncan Street and the shot will be taken from the same angle as the original photograph,” Mr Summers said.

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“We’ll have a sausage sizzle and there will be drinks available.”

The brother and sister team bought the hotel, which had been closed since 2011, in March and is now busy renovating the building.

“It is such a lovely old building. It is so beautiful and we thought it a shame to let it go to rack and ruin,” Ms Wakelam said.

The pair is keen to renovate the building and open opportunities for prospective business tenants.

Mr Summers said the building would be quickly operational for someone keen to establish a pub business, but there were also other options available.

He said the pair was initially busy concentrating on renovating accommodation aspects of the hotel, which has at least 15 bedrooms and two large lounge areas and a large period-style function room.

“At the moment we’re open to other interested parties. The place lends itself to all sorts of enterprises,” he said.

Ms Wakelam said the building could be quite adaptable, depending on the ideas people brought forward.

“At the moment were focusing on the accommodation and from our point of view we really want to see it come alive again,” she said.

“With all its beauty and lovely staircases, stained-glass windows – it’s a huge part of the town. 

“Just from the feedback we received, the locals love the building and have also been extremely supportive.” 

Mr Summers said the building was sound but required considerable work due to its age and the fact it had been subject to minimal maintenance for the past 20 years.

“But accommodation is likely to be available in the next few months and as a hotel it could be leased in a matter of  weeks, providing a very good setting for whoever might be interested,” he said.

Apart from overall management of the building and developing a retail rose nursey, Mr Summers and Ms Wakelam have no plans to run other enterprises themselves from the building – keen instead to lease out the historic landmark. 

But they are passionate about their project and the preservation of an historic building and to turn it into something of which the community can be proud.

The pair added that Murtoa residents Bev Buckley and Bob Trotter had been instrumental in providing support and encouragement for the project.

“They have been there right from the start,” Mr Summers said. 

“And a fantastic mural capturing historic features of the region painted and updated by Bev has pride of place in one of the hotel lounges.” 

– Dean Lawson

The entire December 16, 2020 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!