Pub reno makes ghosts happy

Andrew Korner

HARRISVILLE publican Christie Kallis thinks the dearly departed will be happy with the renovation work currently taking place at the Royal Hotel ? at least he hopes they will be. The hotel's part owner said he had heard a few eerie stories about unexplained footsteps, voices and games of pool inside the 130-year-old Queenslander-style building when he first moved in 16 months ago. "At first I thought it was a load of garbage ? I was a sceptic," Mr Kallis said. "Nothing happened for about eight months. Then things started to move, shake, doors would open, footsteps up and down the hallway ? I would be lying in my bed and I would hear people playing pool." Mr Kallis is now convinced his pub is haunted ? by whom exactly he is unsure. Perhaps it was one of the previous owners of the Royal Hotel, or the Royal James Hotel as it was originally known. He said, however, that since he began major renovations of the building, the level of extraordinary activity had dropped. Could the ghosts have been scared away by the constant sound of saws, power drills, grinders and skip trucks? Or are they happy with the changes Mr Kallis is making? The Royal Hotel has already transformed significantly since work began. Walls have been knocked down and the glorious front veranda now extends all the way around. Builders have replaced the building's old pediment, complete with ridge horn, honouring the original design as thoroughly as possible. "Everything we do will be sympathetic towards the period of this building," Mr Kallis said. The pub's foundations have been strengthened by the replacement of 75 stumps. Inside, the main bar's floor has been completely replaced and a brand new counter installed. "The floor under the old counter was rotten, there was hardly anything holding it up," Mr Kallis said. Even if the spirits aren't happy with the renovations, the locals certainly will be. The Royal Hotel will be a major stopping point for those who take part in Harrisville's Heritage Day celebrations on May 19 and 20. "You would think a country town of this size would be quiet, but something is always happening ? not just in the pub," Mr Kallis said. "Tradition is very important here."

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