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Abandoned Newcastle Post Office is derelict and pigeon infested in video tour

Creaking with age, littered with pigeon carcasses and battered by vandals, the abandoned post office captured in this exclusive video is the public's final chance to take a peek into different era.

The heritage-listed old Newcastle post office was built nearly 120 years ago. But the once-bustling public building - with its post boxes, mail sorting area, clerks' rooms and telephone exchange - will soon be transformed into a function centre and bridal wear stores.

Hotelier Dr Jerry Schwartz bought the iconic sandstone building in 2018 and invited Australian Community Media (ACM) journalists to document it in its derelict state before construction begins in late 2021.

The grand hall is currently a dark, barren space characterised by peeling paint, bird droppings and beams of light piercing through grimy, broken windows.

Dr Schwartz plans to turn this area into a wedding retail space with dress shops, florists, photographers and a café.

The grand central hall of the office has pillars and high ceilings but was a similar story to upstairs with more broken windows, boarded up entrances and bird droppings. Picture: Max Mason Hubers.

The grand central hall of the office has pillars and high ceilings but was a similar story to upstairs with more broken windows, boarded up entrances and bird droppings. Picture: Max Mason Hubers.

The upstairs floor once housed clerks' accommodation, an operating room, a telephone exchange, and a lavatory for telephone operators.

These rooms have also fallen into a state of disrepair with pigeons perched on the banisters and nestled above the ceiling.

Dr Schwartz intends to transform the upper floors into a dining and conference centre that can be hired for functions, events and weddings.

The office's basement was once made up of a battery room, workshops, store, heating chamber, lavatory and sanitary accommodation.

The basement will be turned into an Aboriginal cultural centre with an adjoining café that serves traditional bush tucker.

Dead pigeons and pigeon droppings currently litter the floor of the Old Newcastle Post Office. Picture: Max Mason Hubers.

Dead pigeons and pigeon droppings currently litter the floor of the Old Newcastle Post Office. Picture: Max Mason Hubers.

Dr Schwartz hopes to receive a construction certificate and begin renovating the basement by the end of 2021.

"How long will it take to do the basement area? Before we can do the basement area we have to make the roof water-tight," he said.

"That's the first step. Then we will convert the basement area and see if we can put in a separate entrance from the street

"I would hope [the Aboriginal cultural centre will open] by mid-next year."

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Work to date has involved the painstaking removal of tonnes of asbestos and lead paint from building's mystifying network of halls and rooms.

Dr Schwartz described the renovation as a "labour of love" that could cost him millions of dollars.

The Old Newcastle Post Office when it was under construction, which lasted from 1900 to 1903.

The Old Newcastle Post Office when it was under construction, which lasted from 1900 to 1903.

"It's difficult to give a final prediction of the cost. I've probably spent $1.5million already," he said.

"How much is it going to cost after this? Five million; anybody's guess. I'm certainly committed."

The Old Newcastle Post Office was built from 1900 to 1903 and operated as a post office to the late 1990s.

Over the years, the post office was able to scale down its operations and by the late 1990s, all operations had moved elsewhere.

Australia Post sold the old office in 2002, from which time it has remained vacant and changed hands between several owners.

The Awabakal Local Aboriginal Land Council acquired the building following a successful land claim in 2014.

It was intended to be used as an Aboriginal medical centre but the council was unable to raise the estimated $15 million needed to restore the building and listed it for sale in 2016.

Dr Schwartz then bought the building and had a development application approved earlier this year.

This story Explore this abandoned heritage post office before it's transformed first appeared on Newcastle Herald.