Terrace Group (126-128A Dowling Street) Including Interiors | NSW Environment, Energy and Science

Culture and heritage


Terrace Group (126-128A Dowling Street) Including Interiors

Item details

Name of item: Terrace Group (126-128A Dowling Street) Including Interiors
Type of item: Built
Group/Collection: Residential buildings (private)
Category: Terrace
Primary address: 126-196 Dowling Street, Woolloomooloo, NSW 2011
Local govt. area: Sydney
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
126-196 Dowling StreetWoolloomoolooSydney  Primary Address
126-128a Dowling StreetWoolloomoolooSydney  Alternate Address

Statement of significance:

The building dates from one of the key period of layers for the development of Wolloomooloot as a direct result of subdivision of the Riley Estate. It is a good example of a late Victorian terrace which makes a positive contribution to the streetscape. In 1905, the terrace at No 126 Dowling Street housed the first not-for-profit child care centre in Sydney operated by the Sydney Crèche Association
Date significance updated: 06 Dec 07
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.


Physical description: The building is a 2 storey Victorian Filigree style terrace house. It is constructed of rendered brickwork and has a 2 storey verandah with cast iron filigree detailing. It has a side gabled slate roof embellished with terracotta cresting. The façade of each terrace features two arched timber double hung windows and front door, with plaster label moulds at ground floor level and two French doors opening out onto the balcony.
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: Residence
Former use: Crèche run by the The Sydney Crèche Association. 1905-1906.


Historical notes: 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 1850’s 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.

Land north of Griffiths Street and thereabouts was reclaimed and subdivided by the Crown and offered for sale in 1865.

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. Social decline of the area was evident by 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.

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 approved. The resident group approached the Builders Labourers Federation to ban demolition. These protests were effective and 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.

The Sydney Crèche Association was formed in August 1905 as a charitable organization for the purpose of establishing a crèche for the children of working mothers. To achieve this aim, the terrace house at No 126 Dowling Street was rented by the Association ( later the Sydney Day Nursery Association/Sydney Day Nursery and Nursery Schools Association/SDN Children's Service Inc) for 19 shillings a week. The doors opened for business on 7 Dec 1905, with a matron, Annie Breden, and maid engaged by the Association. Two children were enrolled on the first day and the numbers grew until the Association began looking for 'a more suitable place' in September 1906. The headquarters of the Association moved to Darlington in 1908, with a branch opening in Woolloomooloo at 6 Brougham Street soon afterwards.

126 Dowling Street can claim to be the first not-for-profit child care centre in Sydney. From its small beginnings , the Association and its successors have maintained their commitment to providing high quality education and care for children and strengthening families for over a century, establishing centres in many parts of Sydney and other NSW cities and towns.

( Researched by Dr Leone Huntsman from SDN Children's Services Inc in August 2006) )

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]
The building has historic significance as it dates from the key period of development of Wolloomooloo and the subdivision of grand estates into residential and commercial development.
SHR Criteria b)
[Associative significance]
No 126 Dowing Street is associated with the Sydney Creche Association which established a creched for the children of working mothers there in 1905.
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
The building has aesthetic significance as a good example of a late Victorian terrace which demonstrates many of the key aspects of the style.
SHR Criteria g)
The building is a representative example of a late Victorian terrace found in Wolloomooloo and the inner suburbs of Sydney.
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 ceilings, cornices, 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.


Heritage ListingListing TitleListing NumberGazette DateGazette NumberGazette Page
Local Environmental PlanSydney LEP 2012I216114 Dec 12   
Heritage study     

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
WrittenAnita Heiss Aboriginal People and Place, Barani: Indigenous History of Sydney City
WrittenCity of Sydney Archives on line pictures.1912 
WrittenDr Leone Huntsman2006[original research]

Note: internet links may be to web pages, documents or images.

rez rez rez rez rez
(Click on thumbnail for full size image and image details)

Data source

The information for this entry comes from the following source:
Name: Local Government
Database number: 2420076

Every effort has been made to ensure that information contained in the State Heritage Inventory is correct. If you find any errors or omissions please send your comments to the Database Manager.

All information and pictures on this page are the copyright of the Heritage Division or respective copyright owners.