The Builders Arms Hotel is a landmark public house on Gertrude Street, Fitzroy. Built in a time of prosperity, it opened in 1853 and has been a meeting place of significance ever since.
Fitzroy was an important commercial zone in the 1850s. Due to its rapidly growing population, 33 new liquor licenses were issued for public houses in the area in that decade alone. Through the decade earlier, seven hotels catered for Fitzroy’s population of 600.
The Builders Arms Hotel has long been a significant site for Melbourne’s Aboriginal community and is part of the Fitzroy Aboriginal heritage walking trail. A plaque on the pub’s façade reads:
“This hotel was an important Aboriginal social and political gathering place from the 1940s to the 1980s. The Builders Arms Hotel offered an alternative meeting space to the Gore Street church and earned national reputation as a Black Pub of Melbourne. It was here the Aboriginal people mixed with the Fitzroy milieu and forged friendships with long-term residents and post-war immigrants that populated the suburb.”
The custodians of The Builders Arms Hotel today are Andrew McConnell and Anthony Hammond. Respectful of its rich history and old bones, they have lovingly restored the pub over the years and have ensured it remains a meeting place for locals.
Andrew McConnell is an acclaimed Melbourne-based chef and his family of businesses include Cumulus Inc., Cumulus Up. and Supernormal in Flinders Lane, Cutler & Co., Marion and heritage butchery Meatsmith in Fitzroy, and Luxembourg Bar & Bistro in St. Kilda.
Anthony Hammond was formerly co-owner of The Commercial Club Hotel in Fitzroy and has worked extensively in pubs including St Kilda’s Prince of Wales Hotel.