Terrace house | NSW Environment, Energy and Science

Culture and heritage


Terrace house

Item details

Name of item: Terrace house
Other name/s: Concertina terraces
Type of item: Built
Group/Collection: Residential buildings (private)
Category: Terrace
Primary address: 13 Colgate Avenue, Balmain, NSW 2041
County: Cumberland
Local govt. area: Leichhardt
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
13 Colgate AvenueBalmainLeichhardt CumberlandPrimary Address

Statement of significance:

No. 13 Colgate Avenue is of local historic and aesthetic significance as a good and intact example of a Victorian Italianate terrace constructed in 1898. The building significantly retains its original single storey and attic scale and character and details particularly, unusual stepped plan with the adjoined terraces, exposed party walls and chimneys, gable roof and dormers, front faceted bay and recessed entry porch and associated rendered and decorative details. With the group (Nos. 5-13) the building makes a positive contribution to the Colgate Avenue streetscape.

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.

Council's Library Service has identified photos and/or subdivision plans relating to this item which may be viewed online through the council website at http://www.leichhardt.nsw.gov.au/ Select Library & Local History to get to the Library online catalogue and keyword search "Balmain Map" for results.
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: Attributed to architect Benjamin Backhouse
Builder/Maker: Samuel Weirick
Physical description: Single storey with attic rendered and painted brick terrace with gable roof clad in concrete tiles, skillion roofed dormers, rendered and painted brick chimneys. One of a group of five terraces with expressed party walls with rendered details and saw-tooth plan as they extend down the slope of the street. The front façade features a rendered faceted bay partially constructed to the street alignment and recessed entry porch adjacent to the eastern party wall. The faceted bay has narrow timber framed double hung windows, rendered label moulds and brackets around the window heads and rendered profiled sill on the ground floor with rendered cornice and open balcony over. Timber framed and glazed French doors on the face of the front dormer access the balcony which features a solid balustrade with rendered panels and capping. The dormer also has a timber bracketed hood. Concrete and stone steps extend up to the entry porch which features an arched opening with rendered mouldings and bracket, timber framed panelled door with glazed toplight over and tessellated tiled floor. A triangular shaped open yard is located in front of the building and is bounded by a steel mesh fence with pipe steel and mesh gate on a rendered base which extends along the street frontage. A concrete path flanked by garden bed leads to the building entry. The yard is bounded by the eastern party wall which extends to the street frontage and abuts the wall of the adjacent modern building. A high timber paling fence extends along the rear boundary. The rear yard also appears to feature a brick structure with curved roof clad in corrugated steel. An open passage extends across the rear of the group of terraces.
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
In good condition. The paintwork t the timber windows and doors is cracking and failing. The paint finish on the western façade is also failing.
Modifications and dates: Replacement of the roof cladding and cladding to the front dormer is evident. The front fence has also been replaced.
Further information: The building is elevated above street level with a number of steps extending up to the porch. The modern dwelling to the immediate east of the site have been designed and constructed to reflect the form and scale of the group.
Current use: Residential
Former use: Residential


Historical notes: Surgeon William Balmain was granted 550 acres and most of the area now encompassing Balmain in 1800. In 1801 the entire grant was transferred to fellow surgeon John Gilchrist. Gilchrist never actually lived in NSW and advertised the land for sale in 1823. However, the sale was not a success. He gave power of attorney to his Sydney-based agent and merchant, Frank Parbury, who commissioned Surveyor John Armstrong to subdivide part of the land. In 1836 22, 2-4 acres lots mostly about Balmain East were auctioned for sale by Parbury on behalf of the absentee landowner, Gilchrist.
Parbury himself leased/ bought 10 acres at the south eastern part of the Waterview Bay and built the first house on the Balmain grant, Waterview House in 1835 (demolished c. 1905). It was a six-roomed single storey house with stables, outbuildings and a fenced garden. It stood near the corner of Colgate and Caroline Street. It was later purchased by George Cooper, Comptroller of Customs, who owned/ leased 28 acres adjacent to the west. Cooper subsequently fell victim to the crash of the early 1840s and was declared bankrupt. The Waterview Estate was subsequenlty divided into modest building allotments with very narrow streets (leaving as much land for development) leading down to the bay with its slipway and wharves.
Broadstairs Street (later changed to Colgate Avenue in 1951) was one of the main streets in the c. 1840s subdivision extending from Great Ferry Road (Darling Street) to the bay. Other streets such as St Johns and St Andrews extended off the street at an angle. The site is part of the Lots 34, 35 and 36 of the subdivision located on the corner of Broadstairs and St Johns Streets.
Sussex Street Sailmaker George Cannis (Canness) bought lots 34 and 35 in April 1842. In August 1845 he also purchased Lot 36, providing a 104 foot frontage to Colgate Avenue. In 1848 the land was sold to William Henry Sawyer, a Sydney mariner. It is not clear if the land was developed in any way, however, following Sawyer’s death in 1887 the property was passed to his children who continued to mortgage the property. On their default of the mortgagees sold the lots to Stanmore builder, Samuel Weirick in February 1897.
Weirick constructed the terrace of five dwellings in 1898. The buildings (Nos. 5-13), locally known as the “Concertina Terraces” were partially financed by a mortgage dated April 1898 to well known Sydney architect Benjamin Backhouse, who has been attributed as the designer of the buildings on their awkwardly shaped site. Weirick initially let the houses, but later sold to Balmain gentleman William Miller in 1899.
The Miller family continued to let the houses until 1947 when they were sold to Drummoyne Hospital attendant Francis John Blackburn and his wife. Nos. 5-13 were subdivided and sold on separate lots in 1966.
During this period it would appear that the houses continued to be leased to local workers. With the expansion of industry out of Sydney Town in the 1880s, allotments close to the water were taken up for water dependent industrial uses such as the Balmain Ferry Co works. The growth of Morts Dock and Engineering Company provided an impetus for the construction of small terraces and cottages to house the growing local workforce. Colgate Palmolive established a factory on the water’s edge in 1922. The factory continued into the 1980s until it was converted into apartments in the 1990s.

Historic themes

Australian theme (abbrev)New South Wales themeLocal theme
4. Settlement-Building settlements, towns and cities Accommodation-Activities associated with the provision of accommodation, and particular types of accommodation – does not include architectural styles – use the theme of Creative Endeavour for such activities. Growth of Balmain-
4. Settlement-Building settlements, towns and cities Land tenure-Activities and processes for identifying forms of ownership and occupancy of land and water, both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Growth of Balmain-

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
The site is of local historic significance as part of an early subdivision and Waterview Estate and Victorian terrace development constructed in 1898.
SHR Criteria b)
[Associative significance]
The building may be associated with Benjamin Backhouse architect and MLC.
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
The building is of local aesthetic significance as a good and large intact Victorian Italianate terrace that retains its original scale and character and features including exposed party walls and chimneys, roof dormers, front faceted bay and recessed entry porch and associated rendered and decorative details. The building and associated group (Nos. 5-13) feature an unusual stepped plan and make a positive contribution to the Colgate Avenue streetscape.
SHR Criteria g)
The building is a good representative example of a Victorian Italianate terrace building constructed in 1898.
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: - the single storey and attic scale and character of the building including exposed party walls and chimneys, gable roof and roof dormers, front faceted bay, balcony and recessed entry porch and associated rendered and decorative details are retained and conserved; - the attic balcony and balustrade should be retained and remain open; - the triangular shaped open front yard should also remain open and garden beds retained; - a simple fence should be reinstated to the front boundary as part of any major works to the building; - the party walls should remain exposed and continue to be painted in appropriate colours; - the brick structure in the rear yard should preferably be retained; - any alterations and additions should be restricted to the rear of the building and site.


Heritage ListingListing TitleListing NumberGazette DateGazette NumberGazette Page
Local Environmental Plan I17123 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
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: 1940180

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