Semi-detached House Group Including Interiors and Front Fence | NSW Environment, Energy and Science

Culture and heritage


Semi-detached House Group Including Interiors and Front Fence

Item details

Name of item: Semi-detached House Group Including Interiors and Front Fence
Type of item: Built
Group/Collection: Residential buildings (private)
Category: Mansion
Primary address: 45-47 Cook Road, Centennial Park, NSW 2021
Local govt. area: Sydney
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
45-47 Cook RoadCentennial ParkSydney  Primary Address

Statement of significance:

45-57 Cook Road has aesthetic significance as a representative pair of substantial Federation Queen Anne style semi-detached houses which contribute to the character of the streetscape. They have historical significance as part of the development of 1905 residential subdivision of the Centennial Park lands, providing evidence of the early 20th century built form of Cook Road. These dwellings also provide an important contrast to the larger, free standing homes on Martin, Lang and Robertson Roads, and give evidence of the two 'tiers' of development encouraged on the Centennial Park subdivisions.
Date significance updated: 17 Aug 10
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: Two storey grand Federation semi-detached houses of face brick and sandstone, with arched entry porches, sandstone and wrought iron front fences. The houses are well set back from the street. No. 45 retains its original slate hipped and gabled roof, while the roofing at No. 47 has been replaced with unglazed terracotta tiling. No. 47 also has an enclosed first floor balcony.
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
This area was affected by the 1999 Sydney hailstorm, resulting in extensive replacement of roofing materials. Hasty reroofing following the hailstorm has resulted in many cases in the installation of inappropriate roofing materials, inconsistent roofing materials, the removal of separate front verandah and/or balcony roofs, and the removal of stucco detailing at the top of fin walls between terraces.
Date condition updated:16 May 06
Modifications and dates: Surrounding 1970s highrise residential development has resulted in a loss of context for these houses.
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: Residential


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. All cities include many immigrants in their population.

The development of Moore Park through the latter part of the nineteenth century, impinged on its near neighbour, the Water Reserve. Far from being isolated, the area surrounding the Reserve now comprised industrial and residential areas and sites used for the dumping of ‘night soil.’ The increasing intensity of land use denuded the land of its natural vegetation, in turn compacting the soil surface and reducing the ability of the ground to absorb and retain water. By the 1860s, the water drawn from the Lachlan Swamps was being supplemented by water from the Botany Swamps pumped into large reservoirs on the Reserve. Concerns about the quality of Sydney’s only water supply were once again raised. The issue was resolved with the completion of Sydney’s third water system, which piped in water from the Nepean, in 1888. From this time on, the Water Reserve was no longer required to fulfil its intended purpose.

The Water Reserve became available for redevelopment at the time when Sydney was planning its centenary celebrations. In 1887 (Sir) Henry Parkes placed before parliament a bill to provide for these celebrations. Among other provisions, the bill called for the creation of a public park of not less than 640 acres on the site of the former Water Reserve. The Bill was later passed as the Centenary Celebration Act. Henry Parkes foresaw a grand park in the English tradition. Sweeping drives and ‘improved planting’ were to be arranged around the former water reservoirs, which were to be converted into ornamental lakes. The land left over from the creation of the park was to be subdivided and sold to subsidise the construction cost of what was ultimately named Centennial Park.

The land bordering the north west side of the Centennial Park was reserved from sale until 1905. In 1904 Premier J.K Carruthers initiated a move in the Legislative Assembly to allow the land set aside by Henry Parkes to be sold to reduce the debt incurred through the creation of the Park. The sale was hotly contested before being approved as the Centenary Park Sale Act 1904. Approximately one hundred and ninety-three acres of land, in three separate parcels, were vested in the Chief Minister (by Crown Grant) for sale or lease. Cook Road was located within a parcel of land just over 33 acres in size and bound by Lang Road, the Agricultural Society’s Ground, Cook Road and Park Road.

The lots fronting Centennial Park along Martin Road, Lang Road and Robertson Road were subject to a building covenant that specified:

• No terrace buildings.
• Not more than one dwelling per lot.
• The materials of the dwelling were to be mainly of brick or stone and the roofing material of slate or tiles, no wooden buildings being permitted.
• The minimum cost of construction was to be £ 12 10s per foot of the frontage and if built on more than one frontage were to be up to the minimum for the largest frontage.
• No stores, dairies or hotels were allowed.
• Dwellings were to be enclosed with an approved fence within one year.

Centennial Park was not intended to be just a suburb composed exclusively of mansions. Less restrictive covenants were placed on allotments not fronting the park in order to ensure a good class of building while giving the ‘man of moderate means a chance’ to build his home near the park. Conditions on other frontages included:

• Not more than one dwelling or two semi-detached dwellings per lot.
• The minimum cost of construction was £10 per foot of frontage or, for semi-detached dwellings, the combined cost was to be £15 per foot of frontage.
• Stores were permitted, but no hotels or dairies.

The above covenant was clearly intended to create a high quality residential suburb. The placing of building controls on land released by public authorities was not without precedent. During the 1820s, Governor Darling had insisted on reviewing all plans for villas built on Woolloomooloo Hill, Sydney’s first residential suburb. His successor, Richard Bourke likewise placed reservations on grants within the exclusive Rushcutter’s Valley. The use of building covenants was not restricted to government released subdivisions. Land sold contemporarily to the 1905 Centennial Park sales on the privately developed Haberfield Estate was sold with similarly restrictive building covenants.

The concept of surrounding Centennial Park with residences of a high quality had been part of Henry Parkes’ original vision for the area. Henry Parkes had envisioned a Centennial Park surrounded by ‘elegant mansions with gardens and railing in front’, which, together with the Park, would created ‘one of the most ‘lovely and favourable suburbs in the City of Sydney.’ These residences were to define the boundaries of the park, thereby providing an appropriate setting for its ornamental lakes and drives. The residential precincts of Centennial Park were thus an integral part of the park’s design and appear to have been planed concurrent with the Grand Carriage Way.

Competition for the best-positioned allotments offered for sale in 1905 was fierce:

‘The attendance of buyers was good, nearly 400 people being present. Competition for the choice lots was animated, while land with frontages to Moore Park was in poor demand…’

The low ridges along which Martin and Lang Roads run, along the western perimeter of the Park, provided the ideal aspect for mansions. These western allotments were considered the:

‘…pick of the estate, being situated on the rising ground to the west side of the park, with frontages looking on to the lakes and drives on one side and towards Moore Park on the other.’

Following one the earliest land sales it was prophesised:

‘Intending purchasers are, to a great extent, holding back for the sale of the westerly slopes…These blocks will undoubtedly attracted a good deal of attention, being situated in an elevation portion of the subdivision….’

Within one year of the release of land, 27 houses had been constructed; most of the lots facing Centennial Park had been sold. Sales would continue over the following twenty years. Most of the dwellings were built between 1905 and 1925. The Centennial Park covenants appear to have had the desired effect. Where to Live: ABC Guide to Sydney and Suburbs (1917) listed Moore Park, along with Darlinghurst, Potts Point and Elizabeth Bay, as the ‘best residential portion of the areas controlled by the City Council.’ While many dwellings were architecturally designed, not all were favourably commented on in architectural literature.

Council Records indicate that Cook Road was formed in 1905-6.

Cook Road was first listed John Sands’ Sydney and Suburban Directory of 1907, at which time there were 13 listings on the northern side of the road,; the southern side was not listed.

Rate and Valuation Records over the period to 1940 indicate that the dwellings along this side of Cook Road comprised a mixture of owner-occupied and tenanted dwellings.

The 1920s and 1930s were decades of contrasts and contradictions. On one hand, Sydney underwent industrial and population expansion, while on the other there was economic and social depression. The 1920s were an era of subdivision and land sales. More buildings were built in Sydney in the 1920s than in any previous decade of the city’s history, a record not surpassed until the Post World War II boom. The neighbouring Municipality of Randwick boasted the largest population of any municipality outside the City of Sydney from the early 1920s to 1940. The era witnessed the construction of The Bridge, of underground railways, of electricity, the cinema, telegraphy, the aeroplane and a steadily growing admiration for that ‘most skilled and powerful manipulator of the communication media, the United States of America’:

‘In the twenty-five years between the wars the tempo of life was accelerated as never before. The nineteen-twenties were rich, gay and colourful, they were also restless and unsatisfactory. There was plenty of industrial unrest.Money was plentiful, Then the price of wool dropped.’

The domestic housing market was hit hard by the economic depression of the early 1930s. Building approvals by Sydney municipal councils decreased dramatically.

From the depression of the early 1930s:

‘…Sydney (slowly) surfaced again, not in the seeming light of the nineteen-twenties but under the gathering war clouds on the nineteen-thirties….An uneasy prosperity came back…In 1939 so much was brought to an end…or changed, by war.’

‘The depression was over. Money was going around again…Lists of unemployed receded, buildings began to grow.’

Suburban building began the slow climb to improvement from 1932-3.

The Centennial Park residential precinct underwent change during the Post WWII era. Between 1969 and 1974, 675 units, mainly home units, were built in the area. By 1974, bungalows and detached houses accounted for only 13.56 % of the total number of houses. Some of the existing dwellings were converted into boarding houses.

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. Residential-

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
They have historical significance as being part of the development of 1905 residential subdivision of the Centennial Park lands and provide .evidence of the early 20th century built form of Cook Road. These dwellings also provide an important contrast to the larger, free standing homes on Martin, Lang and Robertson Roads, and give evidence of the two 'tiers' of development encouraged on the Centennial Park subdivisions.
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
Have aesthetic significance as good, substantial examples of the Federation Queen Anne style in a semi-detached form that makes a positive contribution to the streerscape.
SHR Criteria f)
The semi-detached houses are not rare.
SHR Criteria g)
Representative pair of substantial Federation Queen Anne style semi-detached houses.
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. Reinstate slate roofing to No. 47 lost as a result of the 1999 Sydney hailstorm. Remove enclosure to balcony at No. 47.


Heritage ListingListing TitleListing NumberGazette DateGazette NumberGazette Page
Local Environmental PlanSydney LEP 2012I9914 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
WrittenWeir and Phillips2008Heritage Review of Selected Heritage Items and Potential Heritage Items

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: 2420593

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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