New owners and a new look for historic Rutherford Hotel in refurbishment and rebranding plan

RENOVATION RUMBLE: Rutherford Hotel's new owner Stephen Hunt has big plans for the highway landmark. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers.
RENOVATION RUMBLE: Rutherford Hotel's new owner Stephen Hunt has big plans for the highway landmark. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers.

It is a western suburbs landmark, few realising its historical significance and its former name The Union Inn.

Rutherford Hotel is a huge part of Maitland’s history, a watering hole with a colourful past and a business about to undergo a massive facelift.

The hotel and adjoining land has recently been purchased for an undisclosed sum by SJH Hospitality, the same owners of The Kent and CBD hotels in Newcastle.

SJH Hospitality CEO Stephen Hunt has big plans for the iconic highway pub and wants to retain its heritage.

In a bid to find out more about the hotel’s past Mr Hunt contacted Maitland Historical Society.

The hotel was built as an inn in 1851 known as The Union Inn and was renamed Rutherford Hotel when publican Miles Kelly took it over in 1875.

The Maitland Mercury reported in 1909 that “important additions and alterations” were being made to the hotel consisting of the construction of an upper storey and the remodelling and complete renovation of the original building.

The work was carried out by W Taylor and Sons to plans and specifications prepared by architect James Warren Scobie.

The additions of brick, the walls plastered, with pine ceilings and new rooms were constructed in accordance with the Liquor Act along with a balcony along the front supported on cast iron columns with “handsome brackets and frieze”, The Mercury report said.

Mr Hunt, who lives in the Maitland area, said the latest round of renovations will include an internal refit and rebranding.

He declined to reveal how much was being spent on the project but said the overall plan would be three to four years in the making.

“Rutherford Hotel has great potential and this part of town is such a huge growth area,” Mr Hunt said.

“Each arm of the hotel’s business will be getting a bit of love,” he said.

“The bottle shop will be revamped and rebranded with new signs and logos, there will be new uniforms for the staff and we will be spicing up the menu a little,” Mr Hunt said.

“The building will have a complete repaint but we don’t want to modernise it too much, we just want to pay homage to its historical significance so heritage colours will be used where possible.”

The pub’s gaming room will be relocated with a focus on more interior function space.

Improvements will start as soon as the changes are officially rubber stamped by the Office of Liquor, Gaming and Racing.

Rugby league great and St George Dragons life member Eddie Lumsden is a former Rutherford Hotel publican and still visits the hotel. He wore 15 Test caps for Australia from 1959 to 1963.

PEEK back through the archives at how the region's pubs and patrons have transformed.

This story Cheers to  historic Rutherford Hotel revamp| PHOTOS first appeared on The Maitland Mercury.