Former Annandale Council Chambers | NSW Environment & Heritage

Culture and heritage


Former Annandale Council Chambers

Item details

Name of item: Former Annandale Council Chambers
Other name/s: Annandale Neighbourhood Centre
Type of item: Built
Group/Collection: Community Facilities
Category: Other - Community Facilities
Primary address: 79 Johnston Street, Annandale, NSW 2038
County: Cumberland
Local govt. area: Leichhardt
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
79 Johnston StreetAnnandaleLeichhardt CumberlandPrimary Address

Statement of significance:

The former Annandale Council Chambers at No. 79 Johnston Street is of high local historic, aesthetic and social signficance as a purpose built Council Chambers constructed following Annandale's move for independence in c. 1899. The building represents the growth and development of the local area and signficantly continued to be a focus of municipal adminstration and local community through the Depression until 1948 when Annandale was reabsorbed back into the Leichhardt local government area. The building is a good and intact example of a late Victorian building that retains its original character and typical Victorian details such as the decorative parapet and centre pediment which retains the name and date of the building, projecting verandah and balcony spaces and associated decorative mouldings and finishes. The building signficantly continues to be a focus of the local community as a neighbourhood centre.

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.


Designer/Maker: John Richards
Physical description: Two storey rendered late Victorian freestanding building with gabled and skillion roof clad in corrugated steel and rendered chimneys extending above the two end walls. The front façade of the building is symmetrical about a hipped roof projection with heavy banded piers and open porch on the ground floor and balcony over. Arched openings access both the verandah which also features modern tesselated tile floor finish with trachyte edging and the upper balcony, which also features cast iron lace balustrade. The balcony roof is clad in corrugated steel with matchstick timber boarding lining and is supported on timber posts. The façade also features double hung timber framed windows with rendered mouldings and sills and is topped by a flat parapet wth rendered cornice, mouldings and relief lettering with "Council Chambers". A central pediment bears the date " AD 1899". The side facades feature simple openings with double hung timber framed windows. A door opening and concrete and steel fire stair has been added to the northern façade of the building. Modern single storey attached and detached additions are located at the rear of the building. Located on the eastern side of the street the building is setback from the street frontage which features a wrought iron palisade and stone fence. A central gate with steel arch over indicates the concrete path to the front entry. Brick paved paths extend around the two sides of the building. A large eucalypt tree is located in the front yard which also features a number of native trees and shrubs along the north and southern site boundaries.
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
The building appears to be in good and sound condition with only some minor maintenance required. The stonework of the front fence is deteriorated in sections with some mortar and previous cement repairs failing. One of the end piers has been displaced.
The archaeological potential of the site is considered to be low and likely to have been disturbed by the construction of the buidling and fence and subsequent additions and landscaping.
Date condition updated:16 Nov 11
Modifications and dates: 1983: New Hall (21918)
1983 & 1984: Electrical, Engineer and Exhaust system details (21918).
1997: Landscaping and new pergola (97/347).
Further information: A modern palisade fence extends from the south eastern corner of the buidling to the southern site boundary and encloses the rear yard around the addition.
Current use: Neighbourhood/ Community Centre
Former use: Council Chambers/ meeting rooms and Hall & Council depot


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. He was also instrumental in the push for Annandale to have its own Council which was realised in 1899. The foundation stone for the Council Chambers which was designed by architect John Richards, was laid in May 27 1899, four years after the split from Leichhardt Council. Mayoress of Annandale Mrs Adela Taylor laid the stone with a bottle containing some documents and newspapers. The building and land cost the Council 1400 pounds and was opened for business on September 20, 1889. The Chambers served as a major venue for residents to debate matters of local concern as well as its municipal centre until 1948, when the Council was absorbed by Leichhardt.
Council continued to own the building and site which was used as a Council depot and truck repository. It wasn’t until the late 1970s that moves were made for the building to be made available to the wider community and as a community centre. After some consultation and debate the centre was officially opened on 15 March 1980. In the following two years a number of alterations were carried out. In 1981 the upstairs hall was actually closed as it was not licensed in the Theatres and Public Hall Act. In 1983 external fire stairs and installation of a fire door remedied this. Asphalt was removed from the backyard which was formerly used as a depot was grassed over and a number of trees were planted. A bomb shelter in the yard was used by the playgroup that started using the centre in 1982, however, this was demolished in 1983 to allow the construction of a new hall. The new hall and additions were opened in May 1985, their construction made necessary by a lack of space within the main building.

Historic themes

Australian theme (abbrev)New South Wales themeLocal theme
7. Governing-Governing Government and Administration-Activities associated with the governance of local areas, regions, the State and the nation, and the administration of public programs - includes both principled and corrupt activities. (none)-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Domestic life-Activities associated with creating, maintaining, living in and working around houses and institutions. (none)-

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
The building is of high local historical signficance as a purpose built building for use as the local Council Chambers and public hall that represents the move by local residents to become an independent population with an independent identity. The subsequent changes of ownership and use of the building represents the shifting government and local requirements. The building significantly continues to serve and is a focus the local community.
SHR Criteria b)
[Associative significance]
The building is associated with the prominent local identities such as John Young who promoted Annandale and Annandale and Leichhardt Council members. It is also associated with architect John Richards.
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
The building is a good and highly intact example of a late Victorian building with classical details that retains a sense of its original site boundaries and subdivision pattern. The high parapets and details of the façade make a positive contribution to the Johnston Street streetscape.
SHR Criteria d)
[Social significance]
The building is of high social signficance as a former Council Chambers and Hall and community centre and is associated with a number of local community groups.
SHR Criteria f)
The building remains as a relatively rare and small purpose built Council Chambers.
SHR Criteria g)
The building incorporates typical Victorian form and details.
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:

The overall form, two storey character and details of the front façade, particularly the parapet and associated rendered details and pediment, two storey projection/ verandahs and pattern of openings including associated rendered mouldings, should be retained and conserved. The gabled parapets and end walls including chimneys should also be retained. Any additional changes or additions should be concentrated at the rear, no new additions should be constructed to the front or side of the buildings. The stair attached to the northern façade should continue to be open and a "lightweight" structure. The front fence should also be retained and stone conserved and remain unpainted.


Heritage ListingListing TitleListing NumberGazette DateGazette NumberGazette Page
Local Environmental Plan I4523 Dec 13   

Study details

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

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
WrittenGeoff Howe1999Local Studies Vertical file/ Annandale Buildings/ Article :"The birth of the chambers"
WrittenMax Solling and Peter Reynolds1997Leichhardt: On the Margins of the City.
WrittenVarious Local Studies Vertical files - Annandale, Community Services/ Neighbourhood Centres

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: 1940047

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