Terrace Houses (168-172 Cathedral Street) Including Interiors | NSW Environment, Energy and Science

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Heritage

Terrace Houses (168-172 Cathedral Street) Including Interiors

Item details

Name of item: Terrace Houses (168-172 Cathedral Street) Including Interiors
Type of item: Built
Group/Collection: Residential buildings (private)
Category: Terrace
Primary address: 168-174 Cathedral Street, Woolloomooloo, NSW 2011
Local govt. area: Sydney
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
168-174 Cathedral StreetWoolloomoolooSydney  Primary Address
168-172 Cathedral StreetWoolloomoolooSydney  Alternate Address

Statement of significance:

No 168-172 Cathedral Street is historically significant as providing evidence of the early development of Woolloomooloo. The long term ownership of the terrace by so-called 'slum landlords' Agnes Simmons and the Donovan family reflects the history of Woolloomooloo as a poor working class area during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

The terrace was saved from redevelopment as a result of the unprecedented community action during the late 1960s and early 1970s. Whilst not used as housing during this period, the building was integrated into the community shopping centre designed by the NSW Housing Commission as a central part of its redevelopment of Woolloomooloo for low -cost housing. This use is evidenced in the integration of the rear yards of the terraces into the public space of the Shopping Centre. The decision to construct public housing in Woolloomooloo was the result of a remarkable agreement between the Federal, State and Local governments that turned the tide against the rampant commercial redevelopment of Sydney which occurred during the 1960s.

The building, although altered, is a good example of a mid- Victorian terrace which makes a positive contribution to the streetscape.
Date significance updated: 05 Mar 13
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.

Description

Physical description: A two storey Victorian terrace, designed as three dwellings , with attic level behind a parapet. Nos 168 and 172 have a modern stairwell at the rear, constructed within the original two storey rear wings. The front verandah of each terrace opens directly onto the street, whilst the rear entrances open onto a pedestrian route leading to a paved public courtyard. The boundary walls between each property each have a large chimney with decorative cornice.

The front façade of the building is of rendered brickwork with ashlar coursing. Each terrace has a raised entrance verandah constructed of sandstone slabs with a bullnose edge detail. Nos 168 and 170 have a stone step leading to the verandah from the footpath. All three verandahs have been enclosed with metal screens and matching gates to restrict unauthorised access. Each terrace retains solid timber panelled front doors.

The first floor front balcony of each terrace features modern timber decking , modern aluminium balustrades and are accessed by two French doors that open inwards. Evidence of original joists cut off at the wall underneath the floor suggests that the original balcony may have been cantilevered.

There is a modern weatherboard clad dormer window located in the centre of each terrace roof at both front and rear, with the front dormers partly obscured by the decorative parapet that runs across the three terraces.

At ground floor level original rear external walls have been removed to provide a public walking area with lean- to roofs along the back of the buildings. Floor to ceiling glazing has been inserted to divide the walkway from the interior of the terraces. Original or early 12 pane double hung sash windows are located at first floor level.

There is a 2.5 storey high rear wing at No 168, and a slightly lower rear wing at No 172 both detached from the main building at ground floor level. The rear wing of No 170 has been demolished.

Internally the buildings have been altered significantly and most of the original fittings and fixtures have been removed. Significant internal fabric includes remnant timber flooring, an early fireplace at No 172 and an early stair from the first floor to the attic in No 168.
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
Fair
Date condition updated:06 Mar 13
Modifications and dates: c1978 - Rear wing of No 170 demolished and rear yards of the terraces incorporated as part of the Community Shopping Centre
Further information: 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 the social history of sites and buildings. Inventory sheets are constantly updated by the City 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 Conservation Management Plans, so that the significance of heritage items can be fully assessed prior to submitting development applications.
Current use: Commercial
Former use: Residential

History

Historical notes: Historical Overview

The "Eora people" was the name given to the coastal Aborigines around Sydney. Central Sydney is therefore often referred to as "Eora Country". Within the City of Sydney local government area, the traditional owners are the Cadigal and Wangal bands of the Eora.

With the invasion of the Sydney region, the Cadigal and Wangal people were decimated but there are descendants still living in Sydney today. In the 1840s the name 'Woolloomooloo' was applied fairly indiscriminately to parts of East Sydney and Darlinghurst, as well as to the valley and the heights beyond. Part of the Woolloomooloo valley was originally granted to the Commissary General John Palmer in 1793 by Governor Grose. To the east, smaller parcels of land were granted to politically powerful men in the colony to build homes.

Palmer built Woolloomooloo House on his 100 acres in about 1801, and developed a reputation for entertaining. During the Rum Rebellion in 1808, Palmer aligned himself with Governor Bligh and consequently suffered commercial loss returning to England for a period to clear his name. While abroad, Palmer leased his land to Alexander Riley. Upon his return, in order to meet his debts, Palmer sold his Woolloomooloo Estate to Ann Riley, Edward Riley’s wife, in 1822. When Edward suicided in 1825, the Estate was tied up with two conflicting wills. The first division of the estate occurred in 1835. The seven beneficiaries of Riley’s Estate subdivided their properties from the 1840s. The first subdivision in the Woolloomooloo Basin occurred in 1842.

Development intensified with the gold rushes of the 1850 - 1860s. The area was significantly settled by the 1850s with a mixture of shops and residences, interspersed with fenced paddocks.

East of Forbes Street lay several estates that extended down the escarpment from Potts Point including E. Hallam’s grant, Judge Stephen’s grant and the Tusculum Estate. Judge James Dowling received an 8 acre land grant in 1831 bounded by William Street, Dowling Street and Victoria Street and built Brougham Lodge on his property. He allocated some of his grant for the formation of streets such as Victoria Street, Duke Street and McElhone Street. His estate was subdivided in 1846. Subdivision of A. Campbell’s Estate occurred in 1849 and included lots in Macleay, Victoria, Brougham and Forbes Street. Brougham Lodge was located on Victoria Street and was subdivided into 22 allotments.

The land at the end of Woolloomooloo Bay was largely composed of alluvial mud flats until 1863 when a sea wall was completed enabling the reclamation of land between present day Griffiths Street and the present waterline. The reclaimed land north of Griffiths Street was subdivided by the Crown and offered for sale in 1866.

By 1882, Woolloomooloo was one of the most popular and distinct divisions within the city. The streets were highly packed with modest worker’s cottages interspersed with a few earlier mansions. Post reclamation and the wharf construction also saw an unprecedented boom in the construction of hotels, brothels and other businesses in the district.

The Cowper Wharf at Woolloomooloo was subject to large scale reorganisation between 1905 and 1912 when the Finger Wharf was completed. Concurrently, a number of road widening and upgrading projects were commenced by the Sydney Municipal Council , which included the reconstruction of Cowper Wharf Road and one project which affected Duke Street, leading to the partial demolition of the buildings at the rear of the Frisco Hotel. The area underwent an intensification of maritime and shipping activities, and the pubs of Woolloomooloo played an important role in the social life of the area.

Social decline of the area was evident as early as the 1890s and continued through the first half of the twentieth century.

In 1968, a decision to prepare a comprehensive planning scheme for the whole of Sydney was made. An ‘intensive, integrated, multi-level development’ was proposed for Woolloomooloo. The road system was to be totally reorganised by removing lesser roads and amalgamating sites for large scale development. The port was to be redeveloped and residential buildings were to be restricted to the edge of the domain and on Victoria Street. The Woolloomooloo Redevelopment Central Plan was adopted in 1969.

In the late 1960s the long awaited eastern suburbs railway was constructed which resulted in many buildings being demolished in the area including terraces in Cathedral Street on the opposite side of the site.

Dissent in the local community grew and in 1972 the Woolloomooloo Resident Action Group was formed. This group suggested the acquisition of land in Woolloomooloo for medium density housing development as an alternative to the high density commercial development that was being proposed. The resident group approached the Builders Labourers Federation which placed a Green Ban on the area delaying attempts to redevelop it. The Federal Labor Government support of the action made the BLF ban effective and this eventually resulted in re-planning the development of the area. In May 1974, the Minister announced that the Housing Commission would build medium density housing in Woolloomooloo.

In 1975, the Housing Commission began resuming property. Less than 7 acres were resumed, some terrace housing was restored and new dwellings were erected. By 1979, 68 dwellings were complete, with construction continuing through to the 1990s.

The battle to save the finger wharf also continued into the 1990s, with the redevelopment of the wharf completed in 2000.

Specific Site History
Rate Books for the Cook Ward show that a set of three terraces had been built on the site by 1852. They are described as being brick with shingle roofs and owned by Thomas Carr (Nos 168-170) and Mrs Mills (No 172).

By 1861 the terraces were described as being two storey brick houses, each with five rooms and shingle roofs. They were then all owned by Agnes Simmons and rented to tenants. Simmons owned all the terraces between Forbes and Bourke Street on the northern side of Woolloomooloo Street (later renamed Cathedral Street).

By 1882, the terraces were owned by a merchant, Jeremiah Donovan, who also owned the group of terraces diagonally across the road in Woolloomooloo Street and other terraces in the area. After his death, ownership was passed to his son William Donovan, remaining in the Donovan Estate until the 1960s.

The terrace were rented as residences until the 1960s.

By 1970, Nos 168-172 Cathedral Street as well as No 174 were owned by San Sebastian Pty Ltd who took the NSW Housing Commission to Court over resumption compensation payments.

The building at 168-172 Cathedral Street was resumed by the NSW Housing Commission and developed as commercial properties as part of the community shopping centre. The shopping centre was developed in 1978 and the rear yards of the terraces removed and replaced by public open space and two new buildings were added on the north-west and north-east corners of the block. The rear wing of No 170 was demolished and the terraces remodelled losing much of the original internal fabric. The three terraces have since been used for a variety of commercial premises.

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. Terrace-

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
No 168-172 Cathedral Street is historically significant as providing evidence of the early development of Woolloomooloo. The long term ownership by so-called 'slum landlords' Agnes Simmons and the Donovan family reflects the history of Woolloomooloo as a poor working class area during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

The terrace was saved from redevelopment as a result of the unprecedented community action during the late 1960s and early 1970s. Whilst not used as housing during this period, the building was integrated into the community shopping centre designed by the NSW Housing Commission as a central part of its redevelopment of Woolloomooloo for low -cost housing. This use is evidenced in the integration of the rear yards into the public space of the Shopping Centre. The decision to construct public housing in Woolloomooloo was the result of a remarkable agreement between the Federal, State and Local governments that turned the tide against the rampant commercial redevelopment of Sydney which occurred during the 1960s.
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]

The building, although altered, is good example of a mid- Victorian terrace which makes a positive contribution to the streetscape.
SHR Criteria g)
[Representativeness]
Representative example of an early Victorian terrace and of the 19th urban form of Woolloomooloo which comprised primarily of two and three storey terraces with corner commercial buildings.This urban form was later reflected in the design of late 20th century public housing in Woolloomooloo.
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 building should be retained and conserved. A Heritage Assessment and Heritage Impact Statement, or a Conservation Management Plan, should be prepared for the building prior to any major works being undertaken. There shall be no vertical additions to the building and no alterations to the façade of the building other than to reinstate original features. The principal room layout and planning configuration as well as significant internal original features including timber joinery, flooring and fireplaces should be retained and conserved. Any additions and alterations should be confined to the rear in areas of less significance, should not be visibly prominent and shall be in accordance with the relevant planning controls.

Listings

Heritage ListingListing TitleListing NumberGazette DateGazette NumberGazette Page
Local Environmental PlanSydney LEP 2012I213214 Dec 12   
Heritage study     

Study details

TitleYearNumberAuthorInspected byGuidelines used
South Sydney Heritage Study1993 Tropman & Tropman Architects  Yes

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
WrittenAnita Heiss Aboriginal People and Place, Barani: Indigenous History of Sydney City
WrittenGodden Mackay Logan2009168 -172 and 174 Cathedral Street Consevagtion Management Strategy

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: 2420069


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