St Peters Town Hall, including interiors | NSW Environment & Heritage

Culture and heritage


St Peters Town Hall, including interiors

Item details

Name of item: St Peters Town Hall, including interiors
Other name/s: Saint Peters
Type of item: Built
Group/Collection: Community Facilities
Category: Hall Town Hall
Primary address: 39 Unwins Bridge Road, Sydenham, NSW 2044
Local govt. area: Marrickville
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
39 Unwins Bridge RoadSydenhamMarrickville  Primary Address

Statement of significance:

This is one of the last buildings which commemorates the old Municipality of St Peters, which operated from 1861 - 1948.

St Peters Town Hall provides a physical record of the nineteenth century geography of St Peters. Its retention for alternate uses means that it provides physical evidence of the history of the area.

The building is a significant work by Campbell and Sons.

The former Town Hall continues to occupy a commanding position in the streetscape.
Date significance updated: 10 Jan 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: Campbell and Sons
Builder/Maker: William M Martin
Physical description: This building, which is now used as a library and hall, has a classical façade with semi-circular windows to the first floor being linked with the flat ground floor windows to form a series of slender arches across the façade. Built of dark brick with a slate roof, it has a square porch to the entrance with paired ionic columns and a balustraded balcony over. Brackets to the eaves.

The building has been altered in a series of changes predominantly to its exterior and more recently to its interiors. The description of the fabric therefore roughly coincides with the chronology of additions.

A monumental interwar free classical civic building set on a large corner allotment with frontages to Unwins Bridge Road and Swain Street.

The structure addressed Unwins Bridge Road and is accessed via stairs and a later addition ramp from Swain Street. The site boundary is marked by a low face brick fence. A storage structure exists on the north east corner of the site.

The plan form centres on a spacious entry foyer which leads to a large hall (now library) and accesses meeting rooms, officer and amenities. The foyer features a panelled and glazed airlock, and a find timber stair leading to upper level lobby. This lobby provides access to a substantial hall, meeting rooms, a balcony and amenities at the upper level.

The interior features decorative plaster ceilings and cornices, moulded timber skirtings, picture rails and architraves, a flush bead dado detail to plaster walls, panelled timber door5 with obscure glazed highlights and timber sash windows.

The building is constructed of face brickwork on a projecting brick base and has a hipped slate roof with terracotta capping. The roof features deep projecting boxed and bracketed eaves. The primary façade is symmetrical about the entry, and features a monumental portico which projects forward of the bulk of the building. Corners are articulated by brick buttresses.

The portico features a pair of twin columns with ionic capitals supporting a frieze inscribed with 'AD TOWN HALL 1927' and moulded cornice and architrave. The cornice is surmounted by a balustrade. The entry comprises a pair of panelled timber doors with glazed highlights featuring painted text ‘KEITH T SMITH MEMORIAL’, flanked by narrow timber sidelights. At the upper level an arched brick opening forms a loggia protecting glazed timber French doors in high and side lights.

Three bays of windows and infill panels set within double height arched brick openings are positioned either side of the entry portico. Painted timber double hung windows feature multipane upper sashes. Security screens have been fitted at ground floor level. This fenestration pattern is employed to the Swain Street elevation of the front wing, while simple double hung multipane sash windows are used elsewhere.
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
The physical condition is good.
Date condition updated:15 Mar 99
Modifications and dates: There are minor modifications to the building.
Current use: Municipal library and Hall
Former use: Town Hall


Historical notes: This hall was erected in 1927, replacing an earlier Town Hall which was located on the Princes Highway. It is located in that part of the old St. Peters Municipality which was taken over from the Marrickville Council in 1919 (Unwins Bridge Road to the Illawarra Railway).

St Peters was the first Municipality to erect a town hall. It was located on the Cooks River Road (now the Princes Highway).

Boundary changes in St Peters added the land between Unwins Bridge Road and Illawarra Road to the St Peters Municipality.

The Town Hall on Princes Highway was demolished. It was decided that a new Town Hall would be erected at 39 Unwins Bridge Road. This reflected the shift in the focus of the community of St Peters following the 1919 boundary changes.

Tenders were called for the construction of St Peters Town hall. The successful applicant was W M Martin, builder of Drummoyne, the architects were Campbell and Sons.

Martin’s relationship with St Peters Council was stormy. There was disagreement on payments.
Martin was also hired by Council to work on the Tempe Baths Project. For a number of reasons the Tempe Baths were not built and this seems to have damaged the relationship with council even further.
However Martin continued to work on the building throughout these exchanges. His replies were always through Mr Campbell. The firm of Campbell and Sons name appears on the foundation stone but there is no reference to William Martin.

The Town Hall Committee consisted of Alderman Conway, Farrow, Wells, O’Gradey and Luck.
There was considerable debate as to the wording and laying of the foundation stone. The Council meeting recorded that two foundation stones would be laid. The Mayor, Alderman G A Roswell would lay one and the Deputy Mayor, E J Burrows would lay the other. This was amended that one stone only would be laid and that by the Mayor. The stone would not contain the names of any aldermen. The was carried. Another resolution was then carried determining that the tablet to contain the names of the present aldermen would be left over for consideration at a later date. Obviously there was a change of direction as there are in fact two foundation stones of St Peters Town Hall.

During the course of construction some minor details were changed. In May it was recommended and accepted that a brick wall be carried up around the side veranda of the Town Hall to replace the piping rails shown in plans.

The area in front of the Town Hall was also the subject of some fierce debate. It was finally agreed that the footpath around the building would be constructed in ash concrete with the job finished off in squares. Bellevue Ward ratepayers were to pay a quota towards the cost. Ald. Nichols for Bellevue Ward was bitterly opposed to this plan. He unsuccessfully argued that the new Town Hall was the civic centre for all of the Municipality and that Bellevue Ward should not have their rates directed in this way simply because the building was in their ward.

By October discussion on the internal fittings of the new Town Hall were held. Martin was advised through Campbell to fix three pulleys in the Main Hall. The pulleys were to be placed in each panel in the ceiling. He was then instructed to fix picture rails in the hall 'to make provision for decorations'. Martin also had to provide a pulley and eye bolt in the Main Hall.

The whole of the floors were to be covered with linoleum, except the toilets, strong room and the Main Hall. Tenders were received from both Grace Bros. and Anthony Horderns and Sons. The Anthony Horderns tender of 227.5.8 was successful, and included covering the stairs and fixing two inch brass stair nosing.

Many of the fittings from the old Town Hall were used in the new Town Hall. One of the most notable fittings is the original Council safe, which is now on permanent display in the library.

The new Town Hall quickly became an important part of the social and cultural life of the local area. A perusal of the Register of Town Hall Bookings in the first few years of operation shows a remarkable diversity and is an excellent indicator of the cultural mix of the area. Many of the organisations became long term users of the Main Hall. Freemasonry was very strong in St Peters. There was a Lodge Room especially set aside in the building. All of its furniture including three tables were purchased by Council. Lodge Sydenham was the first organisation to use the top floor of the new Town Hall. They applied before the building was even finished and were accepted for the second and third Tuesday in each month. The Orange Lodge applied soon after.

It was not until the 1940s that complaints about its size began to occur. A number of organisations had requested that Council enlarge the Main Hall.

In the 1940s ceiling fans were provided after a complaint from Lodge members about the summer heat.

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]

St Peters Town Hall provides a physical record of the former geography of the area which at the time of its construction was the heart of the village of Redfern.
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]

St Peters Town Hall is significant as a major work and significant Town Hall designed by Campbell and Sons.

St Peters Town Hall is significant as a partially intact Town Hall despite recent alterations and additions; the building retains much of the character of its original two structures.

St Peters Town Hall is significant as a visual focus for the immediate area.
SHR Criteria d)
[Social significance]

The building has social significance for its use for a diverse and complex range of functions. There is an overall, holistic value that relates to the mix and inter-relationship of uses with symbiotic functions supporting each other.
SHR Criteria g)
Integrity/Intactness: The building is intact and retains its integrity.
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:

General maintenance


Heritage ListingListing TitleListing NumberGazette DateGazette NumberGazette Page
Local Environmental PlanMarrickville LEP 2011I29112 Dec 11 2011/645 
Local Environmental PlanMarrickville Local Environmental Plan 2001 18 May 01 86 
Heritage study     

Study details

TitleYearNumberAuthorInspected byGuidelines used
Marrickville Heritage Study19864.21Fox and AssociatesNovember 1984 No
Marrickville Heritage Study Review19972030192Tropman & Tropman Architects1997-1999 Yes
Marrickville Heritage Study Review1997 Tropman & Tropman Architects  Yes

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links

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: 2030192
File number: 4.21

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