"St Clair Flats" Including Interior | NSW Environment, Energy and Science

Culture and heritage


"St Clair Flats" Including Interior

Item details

Name of item: "St Clair Flats" Including Interior
Other name/s: Alexander Philip, Jp Surgeon
Type of item: Built
Group/Collection: Residential buildings (private)
Category: House
Primary address: 594-596 Crown Street, Surry Hills, NSW 2010
Local govt. area: Sydney
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
594-596 Crown StreetSurry HillsSydney  Primary Address

Statement of significance:

Built in 1893 for Dr. Alexander Philip, the building is of high local significance for its historic, aesthetic, social and representative and rarity aspects. It is also of moderate significance for its historic associations, scientific/archaeological potential. The building is of historical and social significance due to its original use as a residence and doctor's surgery and later use as a union building. The building is of aesthetic signfiicance as a fine, intact example of the Federation Anglo Dutch style, and is a landmark building on Crown Street.
Date significance updated: 09 Mar 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 an asymmetrical 2 and 3 storey Federation Anglo Dutch style house with a dominant gable, central 3 storey tower with bell roof and bay fronted verandahs. The building is constructed painted brickwork with sandstone detailing, originally a slate roof, timber double hung windows with multi pane windows, timber doors and timber verandahs. The building is now offices.
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
In good condition with a high degree of original fabric externally and high potential for restoration.
Date condition updated:13 Apr 03
Modifications and dates: The building has had several minor modifications primarily confined to the ground floor level. External face brickwork has been painted.
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 building is within the area that was part of the original 185 acre grant to Edward Smith in 1822. The estate was subdivided in the 1830’s & 1840’s into villa estates and occupied by the gentry class. It wasn’t until the gold rush boom of the 1850s that the area provided substantial land for the development of workers housing locally employed by the breweries and other industries when area was subdivided into the Mary-Le-Bone estate. By the 1860‘s and 1870’s it was further subdivided into smaller lots for working class housing with the rise of artisans, mechanics and shopkeepers in the area and by the late 19th century infill development with larger terraces for the middle class. In the early 20th century the area was cleared of slums and there were street extensions and the promotion of industrial uses and warehouses. By the end of 1891, the buildings that were located on the subject site appear to have been demolished and the site was described as "fenced but has no buildings." (Certificate of Title, Vol 1046 Folio 157). The 1892 Metropolitan Detail Series map also confirms the vacancy of the land at this time. In March 1892 Alexander Philip, the owner, mortgaged the land to the Mutual Life Association of Australia most probably to build the present house as his surgery and residence. The first entry in Sand's Directory for 594-596 Crown Street was in 1896, with Dr. Alexander Philip being listed as the occupier. However, prior to that Dr. Philip was listed as residing in No. 574 Crown Street since 1893, which was a previous street number for 594 Crown Street. By cross-referencing sources, it can be stated with reasonable accuracy that the building was constructed for Dr Andrew Philip as his residence and surgery by 1893. The 1896 Council assessment book describes the land as being occupied by a brick house with iron roof and stable and as being 2 storeys with 12 rooms, while in 1907 it was described as 3 storeys and havng 14 rooms. Dr. Philip occupied the house and surgery until 1903. Following Philip's bankruptcy due to the 1890s depression title to the land passed to the Mutual Life Association of Australia, who sold it to William Snow, Jeweller in August 1914. From 1914 to the present day, the site has undergone several changes in ownership, tenancies and uses including residential, surgery, boarding house, flats and Union and company offices. The use of the property as St. Clair flats started in 1927 and continued until the end of the 1960s. In 1978-1979 alterations were undertaken to the premises by the NSW Health Commission during use as professional offices for a Community Health Service. The works then approved included demolition of some internal partititions, and a single storey structure that was attached to the rear of the main building. In 1984-1994 the building was owned and occupied by the Printing & Kindred Industries Union (which later changed its name). Further alterations were approved in 1995 to accommodate a hairdressing salon on the ground and first floors and a residence on the second floor, demolition of an existing carriage house at the rear and paint finish to the main building.

Historic themes

Australian theme (abbrev)New South Wales themeLocal theme
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Health-Activities associated with preparing and providing medical assistance and/or promoting or maintaining the well being of humans (none)-
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 a)
[Historical significance]
The building was constructed in 1893 for Alexander Philip as his surgery and residence with separate entrances at the time when Surry Hills was developing into a residential district. Alexander Philip had to sell the property due to bankruptcy during the 1890s depression, illustrating the economic difficulties that affected Australia as a whole at that time.
SHR Criteria b)
[Associative significance]
The building is associated with Dr Alexander Philip as it was built as his residence and surgery. The building was later owned and occupied by Printing & Kindred Industries Union (which later changed its name to Automotive, Food, Metals, Engineering, Printing and Kindred Industries Union between 1984 and 1995, and later became part of the Australian Manufacturing Worker's Union.
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
The building is a prominent element in the streetscape and good example of a Federation Anglo Dutch style house with typical key elements of the style.It has been a landmark building of the nineteenth century since its construction, due to its three storey tower at Crown Street. Internally the building demonstrates all typical characteristics of a gentleman's residence including fire places, plaster moulded cornices, arched openings and moulded joinery.
SHR Criteria d)
[Social significance]
The building has had a long history as a Union building, boarding house and community health premises, therefore has social significance due to association with these uses.
SHR Criteria e)
[Research potential]
The building has high potential to provide evidence of construction technique and design of Federation Anglo-Dutch style residential buildings. There is also potential for archaeological evidence at the Wilshire Street boundary of the site.
SHR Criteria f)
The building could be considered rare in the local area due to its Federation Anglo-Dutch style.
SHR Criteria g)
The building is a very fine representative example of a Federation Anglo Dutch style building incorporating a residence and Doctor's surgery.
Integrity/Intactness: High Externally, most original Anglo-Dutch detailing survives. Site boundaries altered c. 1900s
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:

Follow the Conservation Policy including the Maintenance Schedule contained in the Conservation Management Plan for the site. Conserve the building and the significance of the site, including fabric and setting. Maintain the landmark quality of the building and its contribution to the streetscape. Ensure ongoing feasible and appropriate use of the site. Always involve a heritage professional when considering or undertaking works to the significant areas of the building or on significant fabric. Encourage stripping of paint from face brickwork using non-abrasive chemical methods. 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 2012I151414 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
WrittenCity Plan Heritage2004594-596 Crown Street, Surry Hills 2 Volume Conservation Management Plan

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

Data source

The information for this entry comes from the following source:
Name: Local Government
Database number: 2420629

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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