Australian plans to turn a morgue into a motel

An Australian businessman is hoping to turn a disused morgue which once served unfortunate psychiatric patients into a unique motel — offering autopsy slabs for weary heads.

The morgue in Tasmania state has been idle for more than a decade, after the Willow Court historic colonial-era mental hospital was closed down.

Owner Hadyn Pearce is now looking to turn it into accommodation.

“It’s still got its terrazzo slabs, and it’s still got its pull-out fridge, it’s a beautiful thing,” he told AFP on Monday.

Antiques dealer Pearce bought seven acres of the historic site several years ago, which contained six buildings that he is gradually restoring — one of which is the 1950s-era morgue that served patients and the wider community.

A previous owner is believed to have had plans to turn it into an ice-cream parlour and child minding centre, but Pearce thinks visitors might be intrigued enough by features such as the stainless steel bathtub for washing cadavers to want to spend the night there.

“We’ll be looking at putting a double bed in one of the rooms and then we have three slabs and two pull-out fridges which could be used,” he said.

Asked whether travellers would really want to sleep in the four-bedroom motel, he replied: “We’re going to find out.”

David Llewellyn, who heads a committee which hopes to protect many of the historic buildings of Willow Court, said although the morgue was outside his gambit as it was privately owned, the idea was a positive one.

“I guess the more development that’s on the precinct the better it is, in terms of protection of the site from from vandalism and further deterioration,” he told ABC radio on Monday.

Pearce hopes to have the motel open by early 2013 and expects to be taking bookings online.

He is hopeful the business will be a success, after already converting an on-site asylum into a motel, a Victorian-era “idiots” ward into an antiques store and the nurses’ quarters into specialty shops — despite rumours the area is haunted.

Of the asylum he said: “You have the odd person who freaks out when they sort of walk in the door and run off but the majority are pretty good.

“It’s a beautiful historic place,” he added.

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