K034 : Paragon Cafe Group | NSW Environment & Heritage

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Heritage

K034 : Paragon Cafe Group

Item details

Name of item: K034 : Paragon Cafe Group
Primary address: 63-69 Katoomba Street, Katoomba, NSW 2780
Local govt. area: Blue Mountains
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
63-69 Katoomba StreetKatoombaBlue Mountains   Primary Address
Froma LaneKatoombaBlue Mountains   Alternate Address

Statement of significance:

Criterion (a): Natural and Cultural History
This is a significantly early suite of shops, constructed as an investment in 1909, three of them owned until the 1920s by the Anglican rector of St Hilda’s, later senior curate at St James, Sydney. The acquisition of two of Russell’s shops and the creation of the Paragon, taking its present form between 1925 and 1936, is of state significance, reflecting the flair and taste of a Greek immigrant family with a wide experience in catering, and the need for a high-class tea-room, sundae parlour, confectionery and ballroom in inter-war Katoomba for locals and for visitors.

The consistency of use of no.63 as a jeweller’s for almost ninety years in also rare and significant.

Criterion (c): Aesthetic
The Paragon restaurant is a fine and rare surviving example of an inter-war refreshment room. Its surviving interiors with their high quality fitments and design demonstrate the changing fashions of the interwar period from the front restaurant with its slightly classical taste through to the ocean liner influence of the ballroom and pre-Columbian décor of the former banquet hall.

The building itself is a good example of an art deco commercial building and retains two fine shopfronts, complete with their original signwriting.

Criterion (d): Social

The Paragon is one of the best known Art Deco restaurants and function rooms in New South Wales and its name remains a strong attraction to tourists.
Date significance updated: 20 Mar 01
Note: The State Heritage Inventory provides information about heritage items listed by local and State government agencies. The State Heritage Inventory is continually being updated by local and State agencies as new information becomes available. Read the OEH copyright and disclaimer.

Description

Designer/Maker: Henry White (attributed, only the alterations to the Paragon)
Construction years: 1909-1936
Physical description: 63-69 Katoomba Street has a two-storey rendered inter-war art deco façade to Katoomba Street with retail premises at ground level. 1930s copper clad shopfronts survive to the northern two shops and feature the names of the shops at that period: Lloyds Jeweller at no.63 and the Paragon at no. 65. The Paragon also features curved display windows either side of the recessed entry and display cases on the tiled piers.

The upper level is divided into four bays each with multi-paned glazed doors opening to rendered bay form balconies. Concrete hoods on shallow corbelled brackets overhang the doors. Vertical chevron mouldings at the centre of a stepped parapet mark the second bay from the north, over the Paragon Restaurant, and hold the vertical sign advertising the restaurant.

The building has its 1930s awning, with its original pressed metal soffit, extending over Froma Lane to the south.

Internally, the Paragon restaurant retains its inter-war art deco interiors. The front section has a panelled timber shop fitout and timber booth seating with panelled timber walls and plaster moulds of classical figures. Original chairs with the "P" motif for the restaurant remain in service.

The rear rooms of the Paragon are fitted behind the adjacent shops and feature a ballroom/dining room lined with timber veneers with a coved plaster ceiling to the south influenced by the décor of ocean liners. To the north is the bar (former banquet hall) with perforated plaster friezework showing a pre-Columbian influence in its motifs. The toilet spaces also retain much of their original fitout.
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
Good
Date condition updated:17 Mar 01
Modifications and dates: Kitchen modernised
Current use: Various Commercial
Former use: Various Commercial

History

Historical notes: Nos. 63 to 69 Katoomba Street occupy lot 21 of James Neale’s land sub-divided in the 1880s. The purchaser was William Newlind in 1886 (LTO, DP 692; vol.374 fo.169).

The four shops, nos. 63 to 69, were built on Newlind’s land in 1909 (photograph in Paragon). The three to the north, nos 63 to 67, including the future Paragon, were all owned in 1911 by the Rev. John Russell, who was the Anglican rector of St Hilda’s across the street from 1902 until 1913 (Church of England Historical Society Journal, 8 iii, Sept. 1963, 405). Since Russell did not own the fourth shop, it is likely that he was not responsible for building on the site but merely bought existing new shops as an investment. He continued to own the properties as an income-earner until 1924, retaining thereafter only one another investment property, nos.100-102 Katoomba Street (Rate Books). The income from the various shops was no doubt useful to Russell when he went to Sydney as senior curate to the rector of St James (Cable, 42).

Russell leased his shops as three separate entities. No. 63 was by 1914 leased by a jeweller, L.P. Goldstein, who bought the freehold from Russell in 1924. The shop was later occupied by another jeweller, H. Lloyd, and is currently Mine Shaft Jewellery. This is remarkable consistency of use over a period of almost ninety years.

No. 65 was leased by Russell to a series of shopkeepers, Sullivan in 1914-6, Dagon from 1917 to 1919. By 1923 it was leased to Zacharias Simos as refreshment rooms, called the Paragon, and in 1924 Simos purchased both nos. 65 and 67 from Russell (Rate Books).

Simos was a Greek migrant who had arrived in Sydney early in the century. After working and saving energetically, he arrived in Katoomba in 1916 (Low, 77). After a period working as a caterer, in 1921 Simos bought the refreshment rooms owned by Miss Kelly and previously run by Mrs Banning at 110 Katoomba Street. At the same time he also bought Miss Kelly’s adjacent premises at nos. 112-114, then leased by the estate agents, Soper Brothers (Rate Books).

Simos was able to earn and save enough to retain nos. 110 to 114 Katoomba Street while paying 9250 pounds in 1924 for nos. 65 and 67 (Rate Books). Simos and his wife were responsible for the Art Deco restyling of the Paragon in 1925 and for the addition of the Banquet Hall in 1934 and the Blue Room in 1936, utilising space behind no. 67 as well as no. 65 (Old Leura and Katoomba, 200).

The high reputation of the suitably named Paragon was preserved by Mrs Simos after Zacharias’ death and the tea-room has remained as a remarkably intact example of Interwar Art Deco, outside and in, though it is no longer owned by the Simos family.

The fourth shop in the suite, no.69, was never owned by Russell. From the outset in 1909 it was owned by Reuben S. Hofman, who seems to have used it as his own draper’s shop. After his retirement, Hofman leased no.69 initially to E. Luce, also a draper, in the early 1920s, but it became a confectioner’s in the mid-1920s, competing with the Paragon. It was bought in the 1930s by Mrs Mary Simos, wife of Zacharias, so that the three shops, nos. 65, 67, and 69, were all in the Simos family control (Rate Books). No.69 was always leased for income and is at present a pharmacy.

Historic themes

Australian theme (abbrev)New South Wales themeLocal theme
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Commerce-Activities relating to buying, selling and exchanging goods and services (none)-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Leisure-Activities associated with recreation and relaxation (none)-

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
This is a significantly early suite of shops, constructed as an investment in 1909, three of them owned until the 1920s by the Anglican rector of St Hilda’s, later senior curate at St James, Sydney. The acquisition of two of Russell’s shops and the creation of the Paragon, taking its present form between 1925 and 1936, is of state significance, reflecting the flair and taste of a Greek immigrant family with a wide experience in catering, and the need for a high-class tea-room, sundae parlour, confectionery and ballroom in inter-war Katoomba for locals and for visitors.

The consistency of use of no.63 as a jeweller’s for almost ninety years in also rare and significant.
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
The Paragon restaurant is a fine and rare surviving example of an inter-war refreshment room. Its surviving interiors with their high quality fitments and design demonstrate the changing fashions of the interwar period from the front restaurant with its slightly classical taste through to the ocean liner influence of the ballroom and pre-Columbian décor of the former banquet hall.

The building itself is a good example of an art deco commercial building and retains two fine shopfronts, complete with their original signwriting.
SHR Criteria d)
[Social significance]
The Paragon is one of the best known Art Deco restaurants and function rooms in New South Wales and its name remains a strong attraction to tourists.
SHR Criteria f)
[Rarity]
The survival of the interiors of the Paragon restaurant is possibly unique in Australia.
Integrity/Intactness: Very High
Assessment criteria: Items are assessed against the PDF State Heritage Register (SHR) Criteria to determine the level of significance. Refer to the Listings below for the level of statutory protection.

Recommended management:

Conserve the building as a whole, particularly the shopfronts to 63 and 65 and the interiors of the Paragon.

Listings

Heritage ListingListing TitleListing NumberGazette DateGazette NumberGazette Page
Local Environmental PlanLEP2005K03407 Oct 05 122 
Heritage study K034   

Study details

TitleYearNumberAuthorInspected byGuidelines used
Blue Mountains Heritage Study1983K034Croft & Associates Pty Ltd & Meredith Walker  Yes
Heritage Study Review, Blue Mountains1992K034Tropman and Tropman  Yes
Heritage Review Katoomba Leura2001K034Jack, Hubert, Morris, LavelleRIJ; PH Yes
Technical Audit BM Heritage Register2008K034Blue Mountains City CouncilCity Planning Branch No

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
Graphic 1881Land Title
Graphic 1881Deposited Plan
Photograph  Early Photographs of the Paragon
Written  Katoomba Rate Books
WrittenJohn Low1991Pictorial Memories: Blue Mountains
WrittenK. J. Cable1982St. James' Church, Sydney
WrittenRotary Club of Katoomba1981Old Leura and Katoomba

Note: internet links may be to web pages, documents or images.

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Data source

The information for this entry comes from the following source:
Name: Local Government
Database number: 1170394


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