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As ‘Moore Park’ it was the homestead of John Moore, an influential and much respected member of the Armidale community. His was the classic success story; from poor protestant Irish immigrant, to local store assistant, to store owner, to Lord Mayor and local philanthropist.

Armidale of 1845 was described in the journal of visiting Lord Bishop of Australia, WG Broughton, as thus: “The settlement consists of 12 or 14 scattered cottages, principally composed of timber, and the roofs of bark. Among them is a reasonably convenient Inn more substantially built, and a large store is in the course of erection.”

The store in question was Gilchrist’s store, and it was here that John Moore started work after arriving in Armidale in 1846. He was born in Arnagh, Ireland, and immigrated to the colonies as a lad.

By 1854, the population of Armidale had increased to about 700 and during these early years John Moore became established. He purchased Gilchrist’s store in 1857 and developed many other interests, among them a flourmill. With hard work and diligence, he became a very wealthy man. He was a Justice of the Peace by 1863, and Mayor of Armidale a record eight times. His philanthropy was legendary. Many early prospectors and settlers survived by the rations and assistance he gave them whilst they were endeavouring to establish themselves. He and they shared a vision – to develop Armidale into a thriving and successful community.

John Moore’s home, ‘Moore Park’, built in the 1860s, added to the number of fine homesteads adorning the Armidale district. Indeed, Moore Park was featured in the September issue of the ‘Town and Country Journal’. This article stated: “Moore Park, a mile and a half out of town on the great northern road, is a pretty residence, well selected on rising ground, and surrounded by 200 acres of good land”. The chapel at Moore Park was built for family and community church services about 1880, and is now incorporated into the gracious, recently refurbished dining area of Archie’s on the Park restaurant.

In 1976, the National Trust of Australia (NSW) added the Moore Park property to the Trust’s register, it being, in their opinion, an important part of Australia’s national heritage.

Although a hundred years have passed since the death of John Moore, the man who contributed so much to the development of Armidale, his heritage lives on in the Moore Park Inn, a gracious property reminding us of a bygone era. It is here that history is woven into the countryside, serving as a living tribute to be experienced by each guest who wanders our grounds and homestead.