"Cleveland House" Including Interior and Surrounding Grounds | NSW Environment & Heritage

Culture and heritage


"Cleveland House" Including Interior and Surrounding Grounds

Item details

Name of item: "Cleveland House" Including Interior and Surrounding Grounds
Type of item: Built
Group/Collection: Residential buildings (private)
Category: Mansion
Primary address: 51 Buckingham Street, Surry Hills, NSW 2010
Parish: Alexandria
County: Cumberland
Local govt. area: Sydney
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
51 Buckingham StreetSurry HillsSydneyAlexandriaCumberlandPrimary Address
146-164 Chalmers StreetSurry HillsSydneyAlexandriaCumberlandAlternate Address
Bedford StreetSurry HillsSydney  Alternate Address

Statement of significance:

Cleveland House is a rare and exceptional example of a Victorian Regency style mansion, its architectural design has been attributed to Francis Greenway. Erected by 1824, the dwelling’s internal and external fabric remains relatively intact.
Date significance updated: 20 Oct 05
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 well proportioned and detailed two storey stuccoed brick villa in the Old Colonial Georgian style with some Old Colonial Regency features. The house has high sandstone foundations encompassing a basement, level, raised encircling verandahs supported by Doric columns and steeply pitched hipped roofs, and features timber verandah balustrading. The ground floor features timber panelled entry doors and pairs of glazed timber french doors. Windows to the 1st floor are vertically proportioned timber -framed and double-hung. The ‘L’ shaped plan of the main house is unusual for the era, with a single storey wing to the east. The building has retained much of its original internal and external detailing, form and character. Although the original surrounding lands have been subdivided, gardens to the west remain and give the building a good outlook from Chalmers Street.
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
The internal and external fabrics remain intact with only minor additions and alterations being undertaken. The building is beginning to show signs of reduced maintenance.
Date condition updated:18 Sep 03
Modifications and dates: 1992: Alterations for purposes of conserving and restoring the heritage building.
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.


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 http://www.cityofsydney.nsw.gov.au/barani )

The name ‘Cleveland House’ was derived from the close personal relationship between Gov. Macquarie and Major Thomas Sadlier Cleaveland. When issuing the first land grants Gov. Macquarie directed that one of the properties be called ‘Cleaveland Gardens’.

Cleveland House stands on the land originally part of the 10 acre grant named Cleaveland Gardens, issued to Charles Smith on 28th December 1809. The land was to be used for cultivating a kitchen garden to supply, in part, the Sydney Market.

Charles Smith mortgaged Cleveland Gardens to Thomas Clarkson in January 1817 until a Decree of Foreclosure made in the Supreme Court on 24th March 1818 vested the land to Clarkson. Clarkson sold the land to Robert Lathrop Murray in April 1819 who later sold it to Daniel Cooper on 9th September 1819.

Daniel Cooper, a former convict, became a prominent businessman and property owner by the early 1820’s. In c.1824 Cleveland House was constructed for Daniel Cooper in the Old Colonial Georgian architectural style with some Old Colonial Regency features (doric verandah columns, timber verandah balustrading), and the design is attributed Francis Greenway, architect.

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 Community facilities-

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
Cleveland house is of exceptional historical significance as it is a rare and surviving example of an Old Colonial Georgian style dwelling. The building was also the first substantial residential dwelling to be constructed in the Cleveland Gardens estate and one of the earliest remaining to be constructed in Surry Hills.
SHR Criteria b)
[Associative significance]
The building has high historical association significance as its architectural design has been attributed to Francis Greenway, Australia’s most influential colonial architect.
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
The building holds high aesthetic significance as a good example of old Colonial Georgian domestic architecture. The ‘L’ shaped floor plan is unusual, with a single storey wing attached to the eastern side of the two storey villa with ground floor verandahs.
SHR Criteria d)
[Social significance]
The building is held in high esteem by local community groups including the National Trust and South Sydney Heritage Society. Cleveland House represents a major link to the areas past, including the establishment of Cleveland Street.
SHR Criteria f)
Cleveland House is a rare example of the Old Colonial Georgian domestic mansion, its architectural design is attributed to Francis Greenway.
SHR Criteria g)
The building posses high representativeness in terms of the settlers and major landholders in Sydney during the early 1800’s, particularly for the purposes of supplying produce to the rest of the colony.
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:

This building is of exceptional importance and significance to the people of Australia and must be retained and conserved. The original external and internal fabric of the building must remain intact and restored. General maintenance would significantly improve the appearance and value of the building. A Conservation Management Plan is to be reviewed and a maintenance strategy prepared. 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 2012I146214 Dec 12   
Heritage study     

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
WrittenAnita Heiss Aboriginal People and Place, Barani: Indigenous History of Sydney City
WrittenSchwager Brooks, et al, (191988"Preliminary Conservation Plan: Cleveland House",

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: 2420154
File number: HC 32015 & S90/02795

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.

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