Argo Street

Argo Hotel South Yarra

Argo Street was named after “The Argo”, owned by the General Screw Steam Company. This boat only took 60 days to set from England to Australia and many early passengers came to Melbourne on this boat. The Street was name Argo Street in 1855.

The area around Argo Street was purchased as Lot 378 in the 1849 land sales by Peter Davis and Argo Street was one of the first to be laid out in the early 1850s when it was at the Southern End of what was known as Clifford’s Paddock. Peter Davis paid twelve pounds fifteen shillings per acre for fifty three acres bounded by Toorak Road, Punt Road, Commercial Road and a line roughly where Powell Street now is.

Argo Street became a small village shopping centre with its hotel and several local shops and the Argo Hotel which was used to be known as Sheppard’s Hotel and was built around 1862.

One earlier hotel was a modest two story pub on the corner of Hyland Street known as the Freemasons Tavern and then as The early Bird Inn before closing down in 1883. These were built by Gustav Wilson who owned land in the Eastern part of Argo Street.

Argo Street enjoyed some notoriety in the 1950’s for illegal gambling and sly grogging, thanks in part to the local citizens and the police turning a blind-eye.

It wasn’t all a den of sin however; the Elizabeth Fry retreat was opened by the Quakers in 1884 and offered a home for female ex-prisoners until 1957. The area is now occupied by the Argo Reserve.

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