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Illustrated Guide to Christchurch and Neighbourhood

The Empire Hotel

The Empire Hotel,

Established more than twenty years ago, was about two years ago rebuilt in brick, with stone facings, and refurnished by the present proprietor, Mr. R. Richardson, at a cost of £12,000. It is situated in the most central and busy part of Christchurch, viz.—in High-street, facing Cashel-street and the Triangle. It has three storeys, besides the basement, with a frontage to High-street of 30 feet, and a depth of 112 feet. The basement, access to which is gained from High-street, is mainly devoted to the "Dive," one of the best arranged and coolest places of refreshment in Christchurch, with two handsomely-furnished snuggeries opening out of it, with every convenience for lounging, smoking, and writing. The kitchen is also on the basement, and is fitted with the large double range by Watters which gained the gold medal in the International Exhibition in 1882. It has two circulating boilers, which supply hot-water all over the hotel; and there is also a Binnie's hot-air engine, which pumps cold water into every room and landing in the house. A pantry, serving-room, servants'-hall, and other conveniences, besides the private office of the proprietor (to which the telephone is carried), are also on the basement, which is lit and ventilated by two large ventilating shafts carried up to the roof. From the "Dive" a wide staircase leads up to the hall on the ground floor, to which entrance from the street is gained through two wide double-swing doors. Just at the top of the staircase, equally handy from the "Dive" or the hall, is a lavatory, fitted up with Shank's patent hand-basins, &c. From the hall, which is 9 feet wide, the visitor, passing the clerk's office on the left, reaches the dining-room, 37 feet by 20 feet, with pantry at the back, supplied with hot and cold water. This dining-room is both handsomely decorated and furnished, and is not surpassed in Christchurch. From the hall a carpeted staircase, 6 feet wide, leads to a wide corridor on the page 228first floor, 85 feet long. At the eastern end a doorway leads to the commercial room, 30 feet by 19 feet, without doubt one of the most cheerful apartments in Christchurch, with three large windows, facing High and Cashel-streets. Mr Richardson has contrived that while this and all other rooms in his house are evidently newly and most expensively furnished, they have a "home" look quite distinct from the usual "bran new hotel" appearance. In this room are two marble mantelpieces and polished grates, one at each end of the room. The gasolier is the one of Burt's which took the gold medal at the late Melbourne Exhibition, and the paintings and photos which decorate the walls are worthy the attention of any connoisseur. One painting by Armitage (collection of setter dogs) is valued at considerably over £100; while the photo of the old arch of Constantine probably has not its equal in the colony. On this floor are also three private sitting-rooms, and seven bedrooms, bathrooms, and lavatories, with a fire escape at the end of the corridor, and a fire-hose about the centre. Proceeding up the stair-case the visitor reaches the top-floor, where the corridor, 106 feet long, lit by a large window at each end, with the painted gas-lamps hanging from the ceiling, has a very cheerful, pretty appearance. Out of this corridor, on each side, open bedrooms, sitting-rooms, bathrooms, and lavatories, all lofty, well ventilated, and of a good size. It is worth mention that all the bedrooms are furnished with spring bedsteads and hair mattresses, that each floor has its fire hose, fire escape, and lavatories. Throughout, the house is most admirably arranged for a "commercial" trade, which the proprietor seeks. The arrangement of the "Dive" keeps the bar so distinct from the hotel that people might live in the house without seeing or hearing anything of it. The accommodation is equal to, if not superior to, any other house in Christchurch, while the tariff is at the usual rate.