Rilstone | NSW Environment, Energy and Science

Culture and heritage



Item details

Name of item: Rilstone
Type of item: Built
Group/Collection: Residential buildings (private)
Category: House
Primary address: 40 Wycombe Road, Neutral Bay, NSW 2089
Parish: Willoughby
County: Cumberland
Local govt. area: North Sydney
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
40 Wycombe RoadNeutral BayNorth SydneyWilloughbyCumberlandPrimary Address

Statement of significance:

'Rilstone' is historically significant at the local level, providing evidence of the early Twentieth Century domestic housing forms in the locality, demonstrating the continuing phase of residential development of the c.1889 'model suburb' estate subdivision by the Neutral Bay Land Company associated with Walter Liberty Vernon. Erected c.1906-1907, the two-storey dwelling is in the Federation Arts and Crafts style and displays high quality craftsmanship and detailing associated with the style. It is possibly the work of architect Howard Joseland, who designed many of the early houses of the estate from 1890 onwards. An impressive Arts and Crafts style house in a garden setting with a rusticated sandstone front fence and ground level, the first floor is completed in masonry with a rough-cast render finish and a slate roof.

Though the dwelling has been previously modified, such changes are considered minor, sympathetic and reversible, thereby retaining a high degree of design and fabric integrity, including the original interior room configuration and interior detailing such as the joinery, staircase, skirtings, architraves, floorboards, mantle pieces, as well as original decorative plasterwork, fireplaces and decorative leadlights.The original silhouette and form remains clearly legible, making it of architectural interest and value at the local level and a representative example of the Federation Arts and Crafts style. 'Rilstone' is visually distinguishable within the streetscape, being one of few examples of a two-storey dwelling attributed to the early Twentieth Century in the immediate context, while its asymmetrical composition and utilisation of classical forms and proportions sympathise with the other Nineteenth Century houses in the street. It is one of a collection of fine houses in the vicinity that formed part of the Neutral Bay Land Company estate and contributes positively to both the streetscape and character of the conservation area.

Heritage Inventory sheets are often not comprehensive, and should be regarded as a general guide only. Inventory sheets are based on information available, and often do not include information on landscape significance, interiors or the social history of sites and buildings. Inventory sheets are updated by Council as further information becomes available. An inventory sheet with little information may simply indicate that there has been no building work done to the item recently: it does not mean that items are not significant. Further research is always recommended as part of preparation of development proposals for heritage items, and is necessary in preparation of Heritage Impact Assessments and Conversation Management Plans, so that the significance of heritage items can be fully assessed prior to submitting development applications.
Date significance updated: 01 Nov 19
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.


Builder/Maker: Frank Lee
Construction years: 1906-1907
Physical description: A two-storey detached Federation Arts and Crafts style dwelling in a garden setting. The dwelling is asymmetrical with a rusticated sandstone Ground Level and First Level in masonry, finished in rough cast render. There is a semi-circular opening to a verandah entry on the Ground Level . The First Level has a gabled wing. The West and South Elevations also have similar gabled wings. There are three masonry chimneys, rendered in stucco with slender corbelled tops and a tubular terracotta pot. The roof has hipped and gabled planes with slate tiles and a terracotta ridge capping. Soffits are lined with timber boards and the rafters are exposed. The interior room configuration is still evident. There are many original decorative features remaining including but not limited to: joinery such as the original staircase, mantle pieces, architraves, skirtings, doors and floorboards; original fire places with tile work; original decorative plasterwork. There are leadlight windows.

Key elements; complex roof form with central hipped area and offset gables addressing both street frontages; masonry construction on a rusticated sandstone base (for all of the ground floor) and roughcast finish to the first floor; gables have a deep eaves overhang with timber soffit; first floor verandah with sandstone capping and highly unusual decorative timber joinery; varied fenestration with a variety of window styles - timber sashed casement type; 4-paned vertical hung hoppers; oeil-de-bouef; oriel; double-hung timber sashed with deep reveals and diocleation with stone voussoirs and keystone; set back from the street in a garden setting. Sandstone front fence with 'Rilstone' name stone. A Canary Island Date Palm (Phoenix canariensis), characteristic of Federation gardens, is extant on the rear boundary with No. 44 Wycombe Road.
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
PDA - General site condition intact.
Date condition updated:25 Oct 01
Current use: Private residence


Historical notes: The area of Neutral Bay was originally inhabited by the Cammeraygal and Wallumedegal people. The first land grant in the area was of 700 acres (283 hectares) bought in 1816 for Alfred Thrupp as a wedding gift by his father-in-law, Captain John Piper. Piper became bankrupt in 1827 and sold all his land, including the Thrupp estate, to Daniel Cooper, a wealthy merchant and land speculator, and Solomon Levey. Cooper's nephew, John Cooper, was appointed manager of the estate in 1854. Cooper progessively released allotments of the now 'Cooperville Estate' with 99 year leases in Neutral Bay and along Kurraba Point over the next 30 years, until 1885 when the Cooper family departed Australia, leaving the further subdivision of the estate in the hands of trustees.

In 1884 architect Walter Liberty Vernon became the lessee of a portion of the Cooperville Estate, with the intention of subdividing and developing the land with grand residences on large lots. The residential subdivision of Neutral Bay was undertaken by the Neutral Bay Land Company whose main shareholder was Vernon, partnered with architect William Wardell and department store owner, Edward Lloyd Jones. The subject site was situated within Section D Lot 9 of the Neutral Bay Land Company estate and was first offered for leasehold sale in October 1889 but was not sold on that occasion. The residual areas of Section D were owned by Walter Liberty Vernon and Herbert Charles Mitchell until February 1903, when Vernon sold off his interests to James Plummer. Part of Lot 9 was purchased by conveyancer Albert Stewart in September 1905. With Plummer's death in early 1906, Mitchell became sole owner of Lot 9, who then sold the vacant land in March 1906 to the local builder and contractor, Frank Lee, who lived at 34 Harriette Street.

The house known as 'Rilstone' was likely constructed soon after this date as the North Sydney Valuation Books for 1906-1907 and 1907-1908 show a house (noted as 'unfinished') now on Lot 9. The house known as 'Rilstone' was completed by early 1908 with Lee leasing the property to Martin Franckel, an accountant, with an Improved Capital Value of £1,700. In September 1909, Lee sold 'Rilstone' to local gentleman and sometime Alderman of North Sydney Council, Leonard Dodds. Dodds, who lived further up Wycombe Road at Vernon's old home, 'Penshurst', continued to lease the property, including to Edward Fisher Wright, long-time Secretary of music publishers W. H. Paling & Co, who lived there after the departure of the Franckels from c. 1911 to his death in 1913. Dodds sold the property in November 1918 to William Paul Small, who resided there until he sold it on 12 November 1925 to Sarah McKeown. William Paul Small (1859-1929) was a hotelier and company director noted as the original managing director of the Hotel Metropole, Sydney, until his retirement in 1925, and as a managing director (six years) and director of the Australia Hotel Limited (Obituary, SMH 2/07/1929, p.12).

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. (none)-

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
Rilstone is situated in a town lot created in the c.1889 subdivision of the Neutral Bay Land Company Estate. The property has historical value at the local level, illustrating early 20th century housing forms in the locality and demonstrates the continuing phase of residential development of the model estate developed by the Neutral Bay Land Company.
SHR Criteria b)
[Associative significance]
The property forms part of the 1889 'model suburb' subdivision by the Neutral Bay Land Company with the design of the subdivision pattern influenced by eminent architect Walter Liberty Vernon. 'Rilstone' has associative significance for its use as a residence from 1918 to 1925 by William Paul Small, hotelier, company director and Managing Director of the Hotel Metropole and the Australia Hotel.
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
'Rilstone' is aesthetically distinctive and is attributed to the Federation Arts and Crafts architectural style. 'Rilstone' is visually distinguishable within the streetscape, being one of few example of a two-storey dwelling attributed to the early Twentieth Century in the immediate context, while its asymmetrical composition and utilisation of classical forms and proportions sympathise with the other Nineteenth Century houses in the street. There is evidence to suggest that Rilstone is architecturally designed and could be the work of Howard Joseland, who designed many houses in the Neutral Bay Land Company estate after the departure of Walter Liberty Vernon in 1890. If proved, this would elevate the property to state significance.
SHR Criteria f)
Local Significance
SHR Criteria g)
Rilstone is representative of the Federation Arts and Crafts style and was erected c. 1906-1907, displaying a high degree of design integrity, as well as high quality craftsmanship and detailing associated with the style.
Integrity/Intactness: Intact
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.


Heritage ListingListing TitleListing NumberGazette DateGazette NumberGazette Page
Local Environmental PlanNorth Sydney LEP 2013I074302 Aug 13   
Within a conservation area on an LEPKurraba Point Conservation AreaCA1602 Aug 13   

Study details

TitleYearNumberAuthorInspected byGuidelines used
North Sydney Heritage Study Review19931341Tony Brassil, Robert Irving, Chris Pratten, Conybeare MorrisonTB Oct 87 Yes
Heritage and Cultural Resources Study1998 Paul Davies  Yes
North Sydney Heritage Review2002 John Oultram  No

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
WrittenEdwards Heritage Consultants2018Heritage Impact Statement

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: 2181341

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