Friederich Wilhelm Gustave Liebe was the builder and first owner of the Peninsula Hotel in Railway Parade, Maylands.
He is also the focus of the book Five graves in Dalwalinnu by Stan Gervas and our library holds a copy of this book.
By the time Gus Liebe left Europe for Australia, he was a carpenter and a builder, who had worked on the Budapest Opera House and on Bulgaria’s Parliament House in Sofia, built military barracks, a hospital and even major bridge over the Danube.
Liebe worked in the colonies of South Australia and Victoria before moving to Western Australia.
His building projects in Perth included houses, buildings in King Street, Queen’s Hall (1899) in William Street, His Majesty’s Theatre (1904), the Public Art Gallery (1908) and several railway stations. He also built hotels in Fremantle, Cottesloe, Dowerin and Moora.
In September 1905, the Perth Licensing Bench granted him a licence for premises at the corner of Eighth Avenue and Railway Parade Maylands on the condition ‘that the building is built under the supervision of a member of the Institute of Architects, that it is commenced within one month, and completed within nine months’.
The Peninsula Hotel opened in 1906.
In 1908, Liebe applied to buy land in the Wubin area. Gus was a visionary farmer and an Australian citizen, who saw efficient farm production as his contribution to World War I.
In the 1920s, he acquired a huge new tract of land at Waddi Forest and retired from building to focus on making his land more productive. Chaotic wheat markets led him to start raising sheep, but demand for wool plunged once WWII ended. Liebe’s Waddi property was later divided into 17 separate farms under the War Service Land Settlement Scheme.
Gus Liebe died in 1950.
As noted in the Foreword and Epilogue to Five graves in Dalwalinnu, the Liebe name lives on in the Liebe Group (http://liebegroup.org.au/) a grower-driven non-profit organisation based in Dalwallinu, that works to ‘improve rural profitability, lifestyle and natural resources’. Gus would have been pleased about that.
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