The Rob Roy Hotel has had an unbroken existence since first licensed under that name by Robert Peter in 1840.
The land was town acre 523 bought by James Cronk and John Bragg in 1838 and the first hotel building was probably a single storey cottage, shown in an early illustration, standing on the site of the present eastern (1881) wing. Robert Peter bought the property in 1842 for eighty-five pounds, suggesting no further improvement up to this time and resold to Peter Smith in 1853 for 1,680 pounds, suggesting that the present two storey western wing was built between 1842 and 1853.
In 1872 the property was bought by Thomas, Margaret and Barbara Smith and the two storey eastern wing was built in 1881 to the design of architects English and Soward. The earlier western wing remained largely unaltered until 1926, when the facade was renovated including minor changes to the openings and a new parapet.
The hotel was leased to Sir Edwin Thomas Smith’s Brewery from 1867-1900, to the S A Brewing Company from 1900-1922 and the Walkerville Cooperative Brewing Company from 1922. In 1938 it was bought by the S A Brewing Company. Internal alterations were made in 1978 and further internal alterations, associated with construction of a new single storey wing in sympathetic style on the eastern side, were made in about 1985.
The building has two portions with contrasting architectural character reflecting their different dates and the style of the 1926 renovation.
The pre-1853 portion is a two storey stone building of brick in English bond (now rendered) with a hipped roof. In its original form (shown in an old drawing) it had entrance doors flanking a central rectangular multi paned picture window, with a (probably timber) frieze above bearing the name Rob Roy Tavern and twelve-pane windows to the upper storey.
The present appearance of the building results from 1926 renovation: the facade was tiled to dado height and the rest cement rendered with minor decorative details such as articulated window surrounds and lozenge shaped panels; a simple stepped parapet was added with string courses to increase the apparent storey height to that of the 1881 wing adjacent; openings were unaltered except that the main window was remade with a segmental arch. This scheme is intact apart from doors and paint surfaces and the loss of the tiled dado. The 1881 wing is a symmetrical two storey building of random-coursed bluestone rubble with brick chimneys, quoins and trims (rendered to the front) and a hipped corrugated iron roof.
The front elevation was rendered to dado height in about 1926 and has been further rendered and painted in more recent times; this was removed in the 1985 refurbishment.
The character of the building is muted Victorian Italianate, with dentilation to the eaves and moulded stuccoed surrounds to the openings including pilasters, capitals and arch framing the central main door. The cantilevered upper balcony over the footpath has timber frame and timber posts (renewed in 1985), decorative cast iron balustrades and a draped corrugated iron roof. Interiors have been extensively altered and modernised at least twice, involving joining the two buildings functionally and extensive opening out of spaces.
The original internal plan is scarcely recognisable at ground floor level. On the east side of the property there is a non-significant single storey wing built in about 1985. This has an architectural character generally sympathetic to the older parts.
Another interesting fact: The first person to be lynched in South Australia was caught in the Rob Roy Hotel. His punishment was dealt out in nearby Hurtle Square.
The Rob Roy Hotel underwent an extensive renovation in 2007 by new owners who tried to maintain much of the classic charm of hotels from that era.
The hotel changed hand in October 2015 and was acquired by hospitality stewalt Kristian Livolsi and Frank Vounasis.
Regulars have seen a few changes mainly in terms of food style, service and the shuffling of hotel features.
The Rob Roy Hotel features;
A bistro facing Halifax St with large bifold doors
A function room that caters for sit down functions up to 110 and cocktails functions up to 200
Main Bar with one of Australia’s finest selections of single malt whiskies and craft beers
A Sports and TAB Bar with Fox SPORTS on tap as well as Sky 1 and Sky 2 racing.
Alfresco seating on Halifax Street for up to seventy people
Gaming Room with a total of 20 machines featuring 4 brand new, 8 fully upgraded and the 5 all time classics (3 new machines are on order for early 2017). The room also has a fully stocked bar, TAB, Sky Racing and Fox Sports.