The former Balaklava & Dalkey Institute (Dalkey was dropped from the name in 1922 and Institute was dropped from the name in the early 1980s) was formed in 1876 and the original portion of the present building was opened in 1881.
The building is notable for its Corinthian facade which was added in 1935. Also of interest are plaques commemorating the 1951 Jubilee of Federation and the Centenary of the 1854 Battle of Balaclava in the Crimean War. (The Hundred of Balaklava was proclaimed on 21 May 1856). (Heritage of the Lower North 1983).
The Hall complex was originally 1 small building built in 1880, and was the approximate area of the current bar area and kitchen combined.The front section of the Lounge, as it is known today, was added about 20 years later. At around this time:
- A Library room was added (1885): this area was from the side entry door under the canopy along the southern wall to the door of the Green Room.
- Freemason’s room was added (1885) on the northern side of the Hall as a mirror image of the Library.
- Two dressing rooms were added (1904).
There were windows in the north wall of the lounge that overlooked the Lodge Rooms and these were covered in when the main hall was built and the wall size increased. The windows on the southern wall of the lounge are the same as were on the northern wall.
In about 1923 a push was made to build a larger hall that required the removal of the Lodge rooms to make way for the main hall. This occurred in about 1933 and also included the “Green Room”. The Green Room door that opens onto the car park, was covered in at some stage, not known when, and was rediscovered when a major redevelopment of the whole complex took place in 1983 when it was also decided to put a door in the room for safety reasons. When the wall was breached to install a door, the filling just collapsed to reveal the original opening. That is why there is a step into that room.
The main footings of the whole complex has a tar base then a couple of rows of red brick; the walls are constructed of stone and lime on the outside of the walls with a pug filling in between. All main hall roof support pillars, doorways and window surrounds are brick construction facing on to the main wall sections.
Film projector mounts remain underneath the kitchen from a time when silent movies were screened in the lounge. Silent movies were projected on to the BACK of the screen, not like as is done today. The projectors which date back to the (late 1800’s) early 1900s, were moved to the Projector room above the Hall and were used until the mid 1990s.
A more detailed history is available in a book produced by Margaret Gleeson about Balaklava.