The Hayloft has a long and colourful history. The building was originally built in the 1830s as the Hobart Hotel. The main part of the building burnt down and was rebuilt as it is now around 1850. The original stables now houses Etties restaurant and the Hayloft.
Archaeological work on site revealed convict made sandstone drains and indoor cobbling, one of the best examples in the country. The building also houses what is believed to be the oldest remaining flushing toilet in the country. It is now a feature of Ethos Eat + Drink.
According to various secondary sources this property formed the western half of the ‘Old Hobart City Hotel’ licensed in the 1820’s. In 1860 Mr Edward Ash acquired this part of the premises and established his own ‘Chemist & Druggist’. The business was subsequently known as Ash and sons. In 1932 the business was sold to a rival pharmacist Mr Bob Bester who had served his apprenticeship at another pharmacy situated only a few doors up (Wilkinson’s pharmacy est. 1832). The new business was required by the terms of sale to retain the name Ash, so the business became known as ‘Ash Bester’. In addition to pharmaceuticals, Mr Bob Bester opened and expanded his photographic enterprise at the same premises. Both businesses operated until the year 2000. In 2003 an auction of the chemist shop’s contents led to the discovery of medicines and other paraphernalia over 150 years of age including Huon Pine toothpaste.
The first recorded city surveys of the original settlement were undertaken by the first Colonial Surveyor James Meehan. However the total re-modelling of the city plan along a formal gridline in 1811 saw the bulk of the private residences comprising the old township demolished and re-located. The first plans of the new city showing private dwellings therefore date from the 1820’s. The City plan excerpt is believed to date from c1829 and it shows a substantial timber building occupying the parent allotment which would subsequently be sub-divided into 100 and 102 Elizabeth Street. Its original construction date was probably in the early 1820’s when formal shop rows were beginning to occupy the recently re-aligned streetscape.
By 1850 the original timber building occupying both halves of the parent allotment had been demolished to make way for two of the buildings which currently occupy the site. A substantial multi-storeyed street-side shop frontage was erected alongside Elizabeth Street while a smaller stables building was erected at the very rear of the allotment. Both of these structures spanned the entire width of the parent allotment.
By the beginning of the 20th century four new structures had been added to the allotment during the previous 50 years since Sprent’s survey. These buildings were:
These two areas consisting of the former stables and a water closet (WC) are deemed to retain High archaeological potential because:
The building was also the residence of a very interesting resident Ettie Rout.
Recently during renovation works some wonderful very old artefacts were found of one of the very early residents. Under the floor boards school exercise books, other books and various emblems were found from 1853. The text books belonged to 10 year old John Rout. Research discovered his father had a haberdashery in the building.
John Rout's daughter, Ettie Rout was an extraordinary woman. A pioneering social campaigner and vegetarian. During World War 1 she formed one of the first woman's volunteer groups and traveled to Egypt to support the troops. She discovered that many of the troops were getting sick with STD before even fighting. She campaigned and organised safe sex kits for the troops. She then travelled to France and established the first safe sex Bordello for the troops recognising that the official line of abstinence had totally failed. She also wrote 'Safe Marriage' - an extraordinary book for its time. Read it here.
On her return she was ostracised by society for her campaigns on safe sex. She wrote to her close and famous friend H.G. Wells "It is a mixed blessing to be born too soon." Soon she sent a telegram to her friends and family "Ettie Rout was lost as sea", boarded a ship to Raratonga and took an overdose of quinine, committing suicide. Posthumously she was awarded the highest honour by Tasmanian Premier David Bartlett in 2008. Read more about this extraordinary woman here.