Tenalba | NSW Environment, Energy and Science

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Item details

Name of item: Tenalba
Other name/s: Cadzowlee, Coolguna, Coolgarra
Type of item: Built
Group/Collection: Residential buildings (private)
Category: House
Primary address: 31 Wycombe Road, Kurraba Point, NSW 2089
Parish: Willoughby
County: Cumberland
Local govt. area: North Sydney
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
31 Wycombe RoadKurraba PointNorth SydneyWilloughbyCumberlandPrimary Address

Statement of significance:

31 Wycombe Road has local historic and aesthetic significance as a good example of the type, style and standard of dwelling erected in this part of Wycombe Road in the late nineteenth century. Known previously as "Cadzowlee", 'Tenalba' is a well-proportioned and attractive example of a free standing late Victorian/early Federation Arts and Crafts style residence constructed c.1893 within lands developed by the Neutral Bay Land Company and associated architect and local resident Walter Liberty Vernon. Despite various alterations and surrounding construction of later periods, the residence remains a prominent addition to a collection of fine houses in the vicinity which, taken together, characterise the area within the Kurraba Conservation Area. The residence is associated as the home of woolbroker and later alderman, Clarence Walter Bridge, from 1894-1898, successful commercial and retail manager, James Chalmers, from 1898-1910, and photographer and businessman Henry Augustus Smith, from 1910 until his death in 1947.

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: 03 Oct 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.


Construction years: 1892-1893
Physical description: A two-storey brick house with rendered lower floor and painted brick upper floor and a hipped terracotta tiled roof. It features a two-storey verandah on three sides with timber posts, cast-iron lace balustrades and a bull-nosed corrugated iron roof. A projecting faceted window bay with faceted conical roof in the building facade is matched by the alignment of the verandah. This building is designed in the Federation Arts and Crafts style.
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
• The original face-brick has been painted.
• The rear chimney on the southern side has been removed above roof level
• Early photo evidence (Richardson & Wrench pamphlet advertising 1913 Penshurst Estate subdivision) shows that the verandah originally had a timber balustrade. On this basis the identification with the Filigree Style is erroneous.
• Part of the northern verandah has been enclosed to create a bathroom.
• Uncharacteristic windows have been added to the southern, northern and eastern elevations.
Current use: Private residence


Historical notes: The area of Neutral Bay was originally inhabited by the Cammeraygal 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. On 15 October 1888, Vernon sub-leased part of his land to local gentleman and sometime Alderman of North Sydney Council, Leonard Dodds. This parcel of land, comprising the subject site which was then vacant, was not occupied by Dodds however, and when the Water Board Surveyed this part of Neutral Bay in February 1891, there was a small building in the south eastern corner of the subject site amongst otherwise vacant land.

A house (as 'Coolguna', No. 9 Wycombe Road) on the current site first appeared in the 1894 John Sands Directory, giving an approximate construction year of 1892-1893. While no architect has been identified, the approximate dates could suggest the involvement of Howard Joseland, who designed many houses in the Neutral Bay Land Company estate after the departure of Walter Liberty Vernon in 1890. Woolbroker Clarence Walter Bridge was listed as the first occupant of 'Coolguna' ('Coolgarra' from the 1895 Sands Directory) until 1897 when he moved into Vernon's old house adjoining the property, 'Penshurst'. Bridge was prominent as a company director in the wool industry and was later elected as an Alderman for the Council of the City of Sydney (Denison Ward, 1915-1918, 1921-1924) (The Sydney Morning Herald, 8 August 1924, p. 8). In 1898, Scottish-born draper and commercial retail manager, James Chalmers, became the new resident of 'Coolgarra', which he renamed 'Cadzowlee'. Chalmers was Managing Director of the Civil Service Co-Operative Society and later for the Farmers & Co Department Store. In 1899 the street numbers of Wycombe Road were changed, with No. 9 Wycombe Road becoming No. 31 Wycombe Road. In 1910, Chalmers departed Australia for a trip to Europe and an auction notice of 16 March 1910 announced the sale of the contents of 'Cadzowlee'. On his return to Sydney Chalmers and his family moved into a larger residence at 51 Darling Point Road, Darling Point, which he also named 'Cadzowlee'. Chalmers continued his role at Farmers & Co and was a patron of the arts, particularly as the long-time president of the Philharmonic Society, until his death in 1920 (The Sydney Morning Herald, 28 September 1920, p. 8).

In the 1911 John Sands Directory, Henry Augustus Smith was listed as the occupant and on 22 July 1924, Smith purchased the freehold title from the Cooper Estate. In 1913 the grounds of 'Penshurst' next door were subdivided and offered for sale, turning Penshurst's former driveway into Penshurst Avenue, which now forms 31 Wycombe Road's northern boundary. Henry Augustus Smith was noted as a commercial photographer and picture-framer. Some time in the 1920s, a garage was added to the rear of the property. Smith remained at the property until his death on 3 May 1947. The property remained in the hands of Smith's family until the late 1960s when the title was transferred to Tenalba Estates (Holdings) Pty Ltd on 1 December 1967 and to Richard Francis William O’Reilly (medical practitioner) and Dominica Marie O’Reilly on 7 July 1968. It is probably at this time that the name Tenalba became associated with the property.

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)-
4. Settlement-Building settlements, towns and cities Towns, suburbs and villages-Activities associated with creating, planning and managing urban functions, landscapes and lifestyles in towns, suburbs and villages Subdivsion and Settlement-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Creative endeavour-Activities associated with the production and performance of literary, artistic, architectural and other imaginative, interpretive or inventive works; and/or associated with the production and expression of cultural phenomena; and/or environments that have inspired such creative activities. Architectural Styles - The Federation Period, 1890s - c. 1915-

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
Tenalba is on a lot created in the c.1889 subdivision of the Neutral Bay Land Company Estate. The property has historical value at the local level, illustrating late 19th 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. The residence and streetscape serve to demonstrate aspects of the Garden Suburb Movement developed in the United Kingdom in the later 19th Century and finding some of its earliest expression in suburban developments in NSW from the late 1880s to early 1900s.
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. The residence has close association with its first, second and third residents: Clarence Walter Bridge, woolbroker and later City of Sydney Alderman, James Chalmers, draper and company director particularly for department store Farmers & Co., and Henry Augustus Smith, photographer.
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
31 Wycombe Road, Neutral Bay is a freestanding two-storey residence retaining elements of its original form and detail from its construction in the Federation Arts and Crafts Style. The aspects of original form and detail remaining in the residence contribute to the setting defined by residential construction of the Federation period and demonstrate the relationship of these residences with topography and setting. These aspects of the site contribute to the understanding of the Neutral Bay Land Company development of the setting as a Garden Suburb.
SHR Criteria g)
This item is assessed as historically representative locally. This item is assessed as aesthetically representative regionally. This item is assessed as socially representative regionally.
Integrity/Intactness: _
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 PlanTenalbaI074202 Aug 13   
Within a conservation area on an LEPCA 16 - Kurraba PointCA1602 Aug 13   
Local Environmental Plan - Lapsed  03 Nov 89   
Local Environmental Plan - Lapsed 136101 Jun 01 93 

Study details

TitleYearNumberAuthorInspected byGuidelines used
North Sydney Heritage Study Review19931361Tony Brassil, Robert Irving, Chris Pratten, Conybeare MorrisonTB Oct 92 Yes

References, internet links & images


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Data source

The information for this entry comes from the following source:
Name: Local Government
Database number: 2181361

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