History of Longworth House
Regarded as one of Newcastle’s most significant heritage buildings the “Longworth Institute” enjoys a fine brick and breathtakingly carved sandstone baroque facade. The interior is adorned with hand carved timber, stained glass and ornate plaster work.
Designed in 1892 by the prominent Newcastle architect, Frederick Burnhardt Menkens, it is considered by many to be his “masterpiece”.
Originally called “Wood’s Chambers” it was built for Joseph Wood as “superior office accommodation and wine auction premises”. The Wood Bros. & Co. were wholesale wine and spirit merchants and brewers. At the time of its completion it was acclaimed as the finest of its kind in the colony.
The architect, Menkens also regarded it as one of his finest creations and carried on his practice from the first floor of the building from 1893 until his retirement in 1908.
Later the building was purchased by the Longworth Family who established it as the intellectual centre of Newcastle.
As the Longworth Institute, it was used as an art gallery, library and musical recital hall with its imbedded sound proofing between floors it provided for excellent acoustics for the performers.
William Longworth was a notable citizen and director of both the Newcastle Steamship Co. and the Wickham & Bullock Island Colliery Co. In 1928 William Longworth donated the building to The Australasian Society of Patriots, however by 1947 membership had dwindled and the building was sold. The premises operated as the “Air Force Club” thereafter for an extensive time.
Following closure of the Air Force Club the building fell into disrepair until major renovation was commenced by Paul McCloskey in 1999. The process of restoration was continued by successive owners culminating in the re-opening of the building to the public as “Longworth House” in September 2009.