Former Salvation Army Women's Hostel | NSW Environment & Heritage

Culture and heritage


Former Salvation Army Women's Hostel

Item details

Name of item: Former Salvation Army Women's Hostel
Other name/s: Sir Moses Montefiore Jewish Home (Former)
Type of item: Built
Group/Collection: Transient Accommodation
Category: Boarding/ Guest House
Primary address: 471 South Dowling Street, Surry Hills, NSW 2010
Parish: Alexandria
County: Cumberland
Local govt. area: Sydney
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
471 South Dowling StreetSurry HillsSydneyAlexandriaCumberlandPrimary Address

Statement of significance:

One of the several institutions in Sydney to house single women who wished to work in industry but sought moral protection on moving to the city.
Although only the façade remains, it is an imposing reminder of the important role these institutions played in the development of Sydney. An important feature in the streetscape of South Dowling Street, it has been retained as the façade of a new residential development (The National Trust of Australia, 1981).
Date significance updated: 17 Aug 01
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: 1927 extensions: Louis S. Robertson & Son, 16-20 Bridge Street
Builder/Maker: 1927 extensions: L.S. Pinici, Balaclava Road, Eastwood.
Physical description: The original building (Sir Moses Montefiore Jewish Home) consisted of a basement, two storeys and an attic. It probably dates from 1890-1891. In 1927, it was extended to a four storied over basement women's hostel built to accommodate single women coming to Sydney to work. The original women's hostel was opened on 5th July 1924. The additional floors and lift were opened on 14th December, 1927. The building (except for the façade) was demolished in1980, and a new building of residential apartments constructed behind the façade.
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
Date condition updated:10 Aug 01
Modifications and dates: 1980: Building demolished and the façade retained. A new residential apartment block was built behind the façade.
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: Residential
Former use: Women's Hostel


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. There is no written record of the name of the language spoken and currently there are debates as whether the coastal peoples spoke a separate language "Eora" or whether this was actually a dialect of the Dharug language. Remnant bushland in places like Blackwattle Bay retain elements of traditional plant, bird and animal life, including fish and rock oysters.

With the invasion of the Sydney region, the Cadigal and Wangal people were decimated but there are descendants still living in Sydney today. All cities include many immigrants in their population. Aboriginal people from across the state have been attracted to suburbs such as Pyrmont, Balmain, Rozelle, Glebe and Redfern since the 1930s. Changes in government legislation in the 1960s provided freedom of movement enabling more Aboriginal people to choose to live in Sydney.

(Information sourced from Anita Heiss, "Aboriginal People and Place", Barani: Indigenous History of Sydney City )

The site was originally part of a land grant of 70 acres to John Palmer dating from April 1st 1794, which was then named 'George Farm'. Later it became part of the Nichol's Estate which was subdivided in 1833. This site was purchased by Edward Flood.

The hostel's accomodation offered at the time was better than that available privately. The cubicles were of about 50 feet floor space and had seven cubicles to a room with a single central light.

The doors to the women's hostel closed in 1973, not because of a lack of demand for this type of accomodation, but because the Salvation Army felt unable to meet fire regulations (The National Trust of Australia, 1981).

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 c)
[Aesthetic significance]
The building is a good example of a Federation Free Classical style building.
SHR Criteria d)
[Social significance]
This building is socially significant as it was one of the several institutions in Sydney to house single women who wished to work in industry but sought moral protection on moving to the city. Although only the façade remains, it is an imposing reminder of the important role these institutions played in the development of Sydney.
SHR Criteria f)
This building style is not rare.
SHR Criteria g)
The building is representative of a former institution that has undergone adaptive re-use.
Integrity/Intactness: Medium externally, low internally.
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 2012I163514 Dec 12   
Heritage study     

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
WrittenAnita Heiss Aboriginal People and Place, Barani: Indigenous History of Sydney City
WrittenClark, S. & Little, B.1991National Trust Classification Card - Façade of the Former Salvation Army Women's Hostel incorporating Sir Moses Montefiore Jewish Home

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

(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: 2420092

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.