Gone, but not forgotten

Gone, but not forgotten
Sylvia Black

The Argus, on February 28, 1908, reported: “Some months ago the parks and gardens committee decided to make the Fitzroy Gardens more attractive by erecting a rustic kiosk, where tea, coffee and light refreshments might be dispensed …

“Aided by the government, a suitable structure was erected in the park and after arrangements had been made, whereby the Misses F. and K. Mathieu leased the kiosk for a considerable term, it was, in the presence of a large number of people, opened to the public by the Lord Mayor yesterday.”

Frances and Katherine Mathieu lived in East Melbourne and from their home it was a very short walk through the Fitzroy Gardens to the new kiosk. The sisters proved themselves good and generous operators, sponsoring many fundraising and charitable functions. The kiosk hosted numerous band recitals in its purpose-built bandstand. It was a popular spot for private parties, with news of many hitting the social pages. But in 1917 Frances died and Katherine gave up the lease.

By 1921 the council was already talking about making extensive alterations and additions to the kiosk. These finally came to fruition in 1924. The Herald of January 28, 1924, gives us some details:

“The Parks and Gardens committee will spend £1000 on the structural alterations. A new flat will be constructed at the eastern end to harmonise with the rest of the building, the dining-room is to be enlarged and the band rotunda, which emerges from the roof at the north-western corner, will be utilised for private supper parties. The present shingle roof will be removed, and tiles will be substituted. Refreshments will be served on the balcony as well as in the dining-room.”

One of the people to occupy the new flat was Caroline Lockhart. One night in 1946 an enquiry agent knocked at her door in search of a wayward husband. She was confronted by Caroline bearing a loaded pistol. Caroline was later charged with having “carried an unregistered pistol and of having carried a pistol without a permit”. The Herald, in its report of November 14, 1946, gave her explanation …

“Caroline Lockart said she lived alone at the kiosk and was often troubled by people knocking on her door late at night. Sometimes she was frightened. Her father had been in charge of the business before he died, and his pistol was still in the house. She always took it with her when answering the door at night.”

On March 28, 1961 The Canberra Times reported:

“That rather bleak and dark kiosk in the Fitzroy Gardens will be replaced at a cost of £40,000. The replacement, in contemporary style, with a dining room seating 150, must be an improvement …”

This second building, now known as The Pavilion, has been sitting vacant for some years.  Will the Fitzroy Gardens continue to provide a place where families and friends can meet and eat away from the city’s hustle and bustle? Fingers crossed. •

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