The original FEDERAL HOTEL was built in the 1880's, during the gold rush era from local stone and brick. On completion of construction the Federal Hotel was officially opened on July 1887, 'despite warnings from pessimists that the building would never be fully utilised' due to its size.
It was described by local press, at the time, "as being far in advance of anything so far erected in Western Australia, and equal to the best in the sister colonies". The hotel was advertised as being located "away from the clanging of the local gaol and the bustle of High Street" and was seen as a "first class residential hotel for visitors from both the country & goldfield districts".
Between 1901 - 1907, the hotel was owned by Alexander Forrest and Sir John Forrest, "the first Premier of the newly organised Government of the State of Western Australia from 1890 to 1901". Sir John Forrest "member of the First National Cabinet of Australia and held the cabinet meetings for his government ministers" in the room now known as 'The Forrest Room', on the first floor overlooking the Atrium.
Many of the heritage classified buildings in Fremantle have been painstakingly restored and are now utilised as Museums, Art Galleries and commercial enterprises as in the case of Rosie O'Grady's.
After Many years of neglect, plans were put forward to the Fremantle Council in 1988 to "redevelop the hotel into a New Orleans style Casino", but the plans were "rejected" due to the building being classified as a heritage building.