Saturday, September 12, 2009

The Woollahra Hotel

The Woollahra Hotel
Situated on the corner of Moncur and Queen St in Woollahra, the Woollahra Hotel is a nice, balanced example of an Art Deco style hotel that has a good counter lunch.

A particularly nice feature on the hotel facade is the use of different coloured bricks. The three horizontal lines of bricks behind the lettering of the hotel name are accentuated by the dark red brick set back from the paler coloured bricks. The upstairs verandah is still open on the Moncur Street side which gives an idea how the hotel originally looked.

Imaginative brick laying is a hallmark of many of the Art Deco pubs around Sydney.

The hotel was designed by Cyril Christian Ruwald (1895-1959). Ruwald was one of several architects who designed hotels for Tooth & Co during the 1930s and 1940s. Born in Redfern, Sydney, Ruwald attended Sydney Technical College and was indentured to the architects Waterhouse and Lake. In 1917 Ruwald enlisted in the Field Artillery Brigade and sailed for France, where he served during 1918.

During the 1920s Ruwald worked with Reg Prevost, a noted patron of young architects including Sydney Ancher, before spending time in Europe during the 1930s Depression. On his return Ruwald established his own practice and was instrumental in adapting the streamlined horizontal look of European modernism to hotel design. His Cross Keys Hotel, Newcastle set the pattern for many others including the Canterbury, Vauxhall, Woollahra and Premier hotels. The Beach Hotel, Merewether is perhaps the most intact of Ruwald's numerous 'modern' hotels. Ruwald also designed the Greengate (Killara) and Bull and Bush (Baulkham Hills) hotels, notable exercises in historic pastiche.

As well as hotels, Ruwald's practice encompassed apartment buildings (notably Selsdon, Macleay Street, Potts Point), banks (for the Bank of NSW) and numerous residences. A champion golfer, Ruwald designed club houses for Cammeray Golf Club and other sporting clubs. He also designed alternations to two significant Sydney buildings: the City Mutual Building, Hunter Street and the former Grand Central Hotel, York Street.

(Thanks to Heather King who enlightened me regarding regarding the hotel's architect and the Powerhouse Museum whose brief biography of Ruwald is reproduced above)

More Art Deco info can be found at DecoWorks Pty Ltd.


  1. Please attribute Cyril Ruwald. Thank you.

  2. Thanks for the lead on the architect for the Woollahra Hotel Heather. Information on old buildings is difficult to find but it is out there if you know where to look :-)