Annandale Post Office | NSW Environment & Heritage

Culture and heritage

Heritage

Annandale Post Office

Item details

Name of item: Annandale Post Office
Other name/s: Cnr Johnston Street
Type of item: Built
Group/Collection: Commercial
Category: Other - Commercial
Primary address: 115-117 Booth Street, Annandale, NSW 2038
County: Cumberland
Local govt. area: Leichhardt
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
115-117 Booth StreetAnnandaleLeichhardt CumberlandPrimary Address

Statement of significance:

With its blend of public and domestic spaces the Annandale Post Office has a human scale that relates to the local community function and is compatible with the surrounding streetscape and is considered worthy of State heritage significance.

The building has been in continuous operation as a suburban post office since its opening in 1896. Its style reflects the cultural origins, design inspirations and evolving forms of public building in the new Australian suburban environment.

The building is associated with Walter Liberty Vernon who designed the Post Office in the Federation Free Style responding to contemporary influences abroard on a domestic scale. He was influenced by the Arts and Craft movement of William Morris and Phillip Webb, the 'Queen Anne Revival' of Norman Shaw, and the American shingle style of Henry Hobson Richardson. His designs were cost efficient and consistent in style and quality.

Note: This inventory sheet is not intended to be a definitive study of the heritage item, therefore information may not be accurate and complete. The information should be regarded as a general guide. Further research is always recommended as part of the preparation of development proposals for heritage items.
Date significance updated: 22 Nov 12
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: NSW Government Architects Office under WL Vernon
Builder/Maker: Walter Liberty Vernon
Construction years: 1895-1896
Physical description: The Post Office is a two storey brick, stone and timber building with a hipped high pitched terracotta tile roof designed in the Federation Free Style with intentional variations of height and form bringing complexity to the overall design.

Positioned on the corner of Booth and Johnston Street it presents two very different street facades. The corner entry is a single storey colonnade or portico shelter consisting of large stone piers with square half-columns set at 45 degrees, supported on four semi-circular brick arches. Capping this structure is a low, solid brick parapet.

The main material on both facades is smooth orange-coloured face bricks. Set flush with the general brickwork, special bricks are seen on the numerous arches as well as horizontal bands which continue the line of the stone window sills. Moulded face bricks of the same colour form a horizontal cornice across the Johnston Street elevation. The roof features several gable ends on both elevations and raked eaves with exposed, decoratively cut rafter ends.

On the Johnston Street facade the ground floor consists of a central curved bay window with double hung windows with multi-paned upper sashes and single double hung windows on either side. On the brickwork above the central bay there is metal rusticated Art Nouveau style 'Post Office' lettering. On the first floor level above the central bay, a semi-circular arch frames a porch which also features a solid brick parapet matching that above the entrance portico. The wall inside the upper storey porch is finished in rough cast render.

The residential wing is at the rear of the building and has lower wall heights and smaller overall mass. On the Booth Street elevation there are multiple details in timber which distinguished it as the domestic part of the building and gives it a rustic look. Under the south-facing gable there is a complex display of shapes and textures including curved timber brackets and rafters, and an angular bay with panels of small timber shingles around the first floor windows.

On the more private north elevation of the residence, the upper storey features functional weatherboards.
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
Good.

There is degradation of the stone dressing on the main gables facing Johnston Street as well as some missing mortar between brickwork. Paint is peeling off the timber shingles and weatherboards along the Booth Street elevation. The timber picket fence along Booth Street is falling apart.
Date condition updated:18 May 10
Modifications and dates: 1978-79 - repairs and renovations.
1993 - refit of the work areas
2010 - Internal alterations and additions to existing building and new external access ramp (D/2010/112)
Further information: Alterations and additions this century include:
- replacement of the original slate roof with terra-cotta ridge capping and finial with glazed Marseilles tiles of colour similar to the brickwork;
- removal of tall double gates and brick/stone posts on Johnston Street which were replaced by postal boxes. These were later removed due to accidental damage;
- construction of a free-standing steel-framed loading bay at the rear of the building, with a roof of terracotta tiles and shingle-style upper wall cladding and a concrete pavement;
- external alterations of 1993, consisting of a new staff doorway in a former window on the north elevation, and two new arched openings at the rear of the premises to provide a porch for private postal boxes; and
- replacement of the flat paving inside the portico with a concrete pavement sloping up to the main entrance and the installation of automated sliding door, to meet disabled access requirements.
Current use: Post Office

History

Historical notes: The site is part of 290 acres which was originally granted in 1799 to Major, later Colonel, George Johnston, a marine officer of the First Fleet. His son Captain Robert Johnston later leased portions and oversaw the first subdivisions, known as North Annandale Estate from 1874. In 1877 John Young, a prominent building contractor in the late 19th century and Mayor of Leichhardt (1879-80 and 1884-86), consolidated 280 acres and transferred it to the Sydney Freehold Land, Building and Investment Company Ltd which he formed in 1878 and which proceeded to subdivide and sell residential allotments over the next 30 years.

Annandale was to be a 'model township'. Young created the 100ft wide boulevard along the main ridge, Johnston Street, which was intended to be the finest street in the Colony and encouraged the symmetrical street grid pattern. Land sales were slow, particularly away from the higher ground along Johnston and Annandale Streets so the company was forced to revise lot sizes and smaller lots were subsequently created through re-subdivisions.

Annandale Street was designed as a wide 80 ft street whilst Trafalgar, Nelson and Young Streets and the four cross streets, Collins, Booth, Piper and Rose Streets were designed with a 66 ft width.

With John Young’s development of the Annandale subdivision there was pressure to re-establish a local postal service. The economic depression of the early 1890s caused the development to be postponed until 1895. Construction time was estimated at 26 weeks commencing 11th April 1895. The whole project was completed by March 1896 at a final cost of 1,695 pounds. Mrs Black, the postmistress and her children were relocated from Tylden at 13 Collins St, Annandale, and Mrs Black’s sister, Miss Mary Mulligan, was employed to operate the telegraph equipment. Both women remained there until their joint retirement in January 1915. Their staff in 1898 consisted of three letter carriers and in 1915 it had increased to eight.

The building has been in continuous operation as a suburban post office since its opening in 1896. In 1958, Lot 1 (a former right of carriageway at the rear of the property) was transferred to the Commonweath Bank, and Lot 3 (a small splayed section on the south-eastern corner of the site) was confirmed as roadside space. The property was sold to its present owners in 1990 and leased back to the Australian Postal Corporation.

Walter Liberty Vernon joined the new Government Architect’s Branch of the Department of Public Works in 1890 and was the architect who designed the Annandale Post Office. Originally from Buckinghamshire in England he migrated to Sydney in 1883. Vernon was known in Australia for his large commercial projects in the city and many designs of public buildings such as police stations, court houses, fire stations schools and post offices as well as private smaller projects.

Vernon designed the Post Office in the Federation Free Style responding to contemporary influences abroard on a domestic scale. He was influenced by the Arts and Craft movement of William Morris and Phillip Webb, the 'Queen Anne Revival' of Norman Shaw, and the American shingle style of Henry Hobson Richardson. His designs were cost efficient and consistent in style and quality.

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)-

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
The building has high local historic significance as an excellent example of a Post Office building built in 1885-86 in the Federation Free Style. It has been in continuous operation on the site since 1896. It reflects the development of post and telegraph operations in Australia, servicing the Annandale community in particular.
SHR Criteria b)
[Associative significance]
The building is asociated with Walter Liberty Vernon who was the designer and was known as a prominent architect of public buildings who worked at the New South Wales Government Architect's Branch of the Department of Public Works.
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
The Post Office has aesthetic significance as a large complex brick, sandstone and timber structure built in the picturesque Federation Free style with many details such as a single storey colonnade or portico shelter consisting of large stone piers with square half-columns set at 45 degrees, special moulded bricks are seen on the numerous arches as well as horizontal bands which continue the line of the stone window sills. The roof features several gable ends on both elevations and raked eaves with exposed, decoratively cut rafter ends.

On the Johnston Street facade the ground floor consists of a central curved bay window with double hung windows with multi-paned upper sashes and single double hung windows on either side.
SHR Criteria d)
[Social significance]
The building is part of the commercial and civic hub of Annandale. As a retail and service facility, it is linked to other neighbouring buildings which provide a commmunity focus and encourage pedestrian activity in the heart of the suburb.
SHR Criteria e)
[Research potential]
Walter Liberty Vernon was one of the pioneers of the Federation Free style in public buildings in Australia.
SHR Criteria f)
[Rarity]
The Post Office is rare in Annandale as a prominent corner building and is part of a small group of post office designs which contributed to the infrastructure of the late nineteenth century suburbs west of Sydney.
SHR Criteria g)
[Representativeness]
The Post Office is a representative example of a Federation Free public building that was an important period of transition in Australian architecture.
Integrity/Intactness: 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:

It is recommended that this building be nominated for State Heritage Listing. It is also recommended that the existing form and character of the building be preserved.

Listings

Heritage ListingListing TitleListing NumberGazette DateGazette NumberGazette Page
Local Environmental Plan I1223 Dec 13   

Study details

TitleYearNumberAuthorInspected byGuidelines used
Leichhardt Municipality Heritage Study1990 McDonald McPhee Pty Ltd (Craig Burton, Wendy Thorp)  Yes
Leichhardt Municipality Heritage Study1990 McDonald McPhee Pty Ltd (Craig Burton, Wendy Thorp)  Yes
Leichhardt Municipality Heritage Study1990 McDonald McPhee Pty Ltd (Craig Burton, Wendy Thorp)  Yes

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
WrittenJohn Graham and Associates Architect1999A Conservation Report - Annandale Post Office
WrittenMax Solling and Peter Reynolds1997Leichhardt: on the Margins of the City

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: 1940014


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