Imperial Hotel Including Interior | NSW Environment & Heritage

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Heritage

Imperial Hotel Including Interior

Item details

Name of item: Imperial Hotel Including Interior
Type of item: Built
Group/Collection: Commercial
Category: Hotel
Primary address: 35-37 Erskineville Road, Erskinville, NSW 2043
Local govt. area: Sydney
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
35-37 Erskineville RoadErskinvilleSydney  Primary Address
35 Erskineville RoadErskinevilleSydney  Alternate Address

Statement of significance:

The Imperial Hotel is a fine example of an Inter-war Functionalist Style hotel designed by Virgil Cizzio for Tooth and Co and is a landmark feature in the local streetscape, being set prominantly on a corner site on a bend in Erskineville Road. The site has been associated with the hotel industry since 1881 and the existing building provides evidence of the key period of hotel rebuilding by the breweries in NSW. It continues to provide an important focus for the local community.
Date significance updated: 29 Jun 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.

Description

Designer/Maker: Virgil D. Cizzio
Physical description: The Imperial Hotel, Erskineville is a two storey hotel in the Inter War Functionalist style set on a prominent corner site at the junction of Erskineville Road and Union Street. The hotel is reasonably intact externally but has been quite heavily altered internally, partticularly on the lower floors.

The building is in face brick to the upper floors with an awning seperating the upper florr from a tiled base. The brick façade has decorated brick detail and cement rendered projecting bands with high parapet above with a flat terrace beyond. The brick façade sweeps around the corner with an inset balcony set between flanking blocks and a central octagonal tower to the roof deck above. The site falls to the rear and there is a higher block to the rear and high walls to the rear lane. To the east is a single storey block that runs to the rear of the site. Adjoining this is a single storey extension in the garden of the terrace house adjoining the hotel in Erskineville Road. Several of the original window and door openings have been blocked or altered on the lower floor, though the upper floor is reasonably intact with its two pane timber sash windows.

The hotel has a separate entrance from Erskineville Road to the formerr guest accomodation on the first floor, but the main entrance doors have been removed. Internally the hotel has been altered considerably particularly in the bar areas. The cellar been converted to a bar area, though with little alteration and the original cool rooms remain. The hotel has a large main bar to the front and a cabaret room and bar to the rear with a small stage. The interior here, and in the linking hallway has Art Deco decoration to the ceilings. The roof light to the rear hall has been removed. To the east is a new bar in a modern extension.

The central hall is linked to the front guest accomodation entry and the main stair is off the front lobby by a discrete door. Above the stair opens out and is nicely detailed with sweeping solid balustrades, terrazzo stair treads and tiled walls. The first floor rooms open off a hallway running along the east side of the building. To the front is a large apartment and to the rear smaller bedrooms and bathrooms and a central dining room. The detailing is quite plain with some original tiling in the bathroom. There is a second small fire stair that opens to the central hall below.

There is a large L shaped terrace to the roof with a former laundry at the western end (with its original copper and sink) and the unusual octagonal structure to the front.

The hotel has a row of parapeted Victorian terrace houses and former shops to the east. The central terrace has a panel to the parapet marked '1882'. Number 39 has a curved tile and glazedshopfront to the ground floor, but the Victorian house front above survives. The render detail to the parapet indicates that the house was part of a larger terrace presumably demolished for the Hotel. To the rear of these properties are two storey skillion roof wings with small gardens on to the rear lane.

Erskineville Road is a mix of Commercial and residential buildings along this stretch with a large modern garage across Union Street and two dilapidated Victorian houses facing across Erskineville Road set among cleared sites. To the south of the Hotel is a dense area of Victorian single and two storey housing with a tight network of streets and rear lanes.

(Information sourced from 'Imperial Hotel, Erskineville Road, Erskineville Proposed Redevelopment: Heritage Impact Statement', prepared by John Oultram Heritage& Design for Koopman Architects. September 2001. Development Application 00032/01)
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
The Imperial Hotel is a good example of an Inter War Art Deco/Functionalist style building designed by Virgil D. Cizzio. The facades are an accomplished and quite sophisticated essay in the style, although the lower section under the awning has been unsympathetically altered and the decorative tiling over-painted.

The interiors retain some of their Art Deco flavour, particularly to the rear cabaret roomand upper stair, but not much of the interior detail has been altered.

The building is a landmark feature in the local streetscape, being set prominantly on a corner site on a bend in Erskineville Road. It is an unusual building in the surrounding area that is dominated by the small scale, tightly knit Victorian residential developments.
Date condition updated:02 Feb 05
Modifications and dates: Building Application - BA/1997/554 - ALTS & ADDS TO THE IMPERIAL HOTEL (to construct a fitout lounge bar at the rear of Hotel). Approved 24-Jul-1997

Development Application - D/2003/608 - Use of the existing hotel as a "place of public entertainment" and external alterations to windows and doors for the purpose of noise attenuation. Approved 11-Dec-2003

S82A Review RD/2003/608/A - SECTION 82A REVIEW of the use of the existing Public Bar in the hotel as a Place of Public Entertainment and external glazing to windows and doors for the purpose of noise attenuation. Approved 06-Aug-2004
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: Hotel/Bar
Former use: Hotel with accomodation

History

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.

The site has historical associations with the early development of Erskineville, the grant to Nicholas Devine in 1794 and the Toogood Estate.

The site is part of an early grant of 120 acres to Nicholas Devine in 1794. In the 1830s the grant was subdivided for villa estates. In the 1880s following the completion of the railway the estate was subdivided for residential estates. The section of the grant near Union Street was purchased by Samual Joseph Toogood, Thomas Wilton Eady and John Booth Jones and was subdivided as a small residential lots and known as the Toogood Estate.

In 1880 Lot 1 of Section 1 of the Toogood Estate was purchased by George Mercer, a bricklayer of Newtown. The following year the lot was purchased by George Henry Wright, a licensed victaller whose address was Erskineville Road. It is unclear if Wright built the first buildings on the site. These appear in the Rates Book of 1881, with the four adjoining lots owned by Mr. Mercer. The house is listed as a hotel in 1882 and appears as the 'Imperial Hotel' in the 1883 Sands Directory, when Wright also owned Lot 2 of the Estate. The block plan of 1890's shows the site well developed with a large building to the front of the subject site and a yard and outbuildings to the rear. There also appears to be an adjoining terrace. Three entrances are indicated to the hotel and the area has been developed with a dense pattern of houses.

George Wright died in 1901 but the Hotel remained in the Wright family till 1924 when it was sold to Ralph Henry Hendra. The Hotel was purchased by Tooth and Co. in 1931 and leased to a succession of landlords.

The fortunes of the hotel and Brewing Industry followed the pattern of the Australian economy and were influenced by the rise of the temperance movement from the 1870's, changes in licensing laws, changing social patterns and economic depressions. Hotel building declined during the depression of the early 1930's, but after 1936 there was a boom in building and remodelling of hotels throughout Sydney encouraged by low property and building prices.

The contemporary layout of bars in the 1930's had been set by the changes in the licensing laws in the early part of the century that had attempted to restrict licensees and improve facilities. The introduction of early closing had put the emphasis on large, open bars for ease of serving. The laws also required a number of bedrooms be attached to any hotel, and the social mores of the time separated men from women, who were confined to discrete ladies lounge.

The Imperial Hotel was redeveloped in the style of the day, Art Deco, and incorporated all the contemporary requirments for a modern hotel. Like their rivals, Tooth's employed a select range of architects and were keen that their buildings were among the best of contemporary architecture. The redevelopment of the hotel reflected the economic bouyancy of the time and the breweries desire to keep abreast of changing drinking patterns, social behaviour and architectural trends.

The current hotel seems to have been constructed c. 1940 to the design of the architect Virgili D. Cizzio. He designed the Great Southern Hotel on George Street in the same year. Little is known about Cizzio, though there are some references to D. Cizzio in the 'Salon' 1912-1915 and a single reference to Virgili Cizzio in 1913. The rebuilding extended the Hotel across the whole of the site and demolished the previous structures.

It is apparent that there have been alterations to the Hotel since 1940 and one of these is recorded in 1960 when a curved section of the public bar was removed. The building has been owned by the current landlord since 1987 and they have since purchased the adjoining terrace to extend the bar to the rear. The lower section of the terrace was a well-known fish shop. Its lower façade has similar details to the Hotel but it is not when this was altered.

The Hotel became widely known when it was featured in the successful film 'Priscilla Queen of the Desert' (1995) and is well known as a cabaret and entertainment venue.

The Hotel has provided a social focus for the residents of the area since 1881..

(Information sourced from 'Imperial Hotel, Erskineville Road, Erskineville Proposed Redevelopment: Heritage Impact Statement', prepared by John Oultram Heritage& Design for Koopman Architects. September 2001. Development Application 00032/01)

Historic themes

Australian theme (abbrev)New South Wales themeLocal theme
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Commerce-Activities relating to buying, selling and exchanging goods and services (none)-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Leisure-Activities associated with recreation and relaxation (none)-

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
The site has historical associations with the early development of Erskineville, the grant to Nicholas Devine in 1794 and the Toogood Estate. The site is associated with hotel uses since 1881, as there has been a hotel on the site since 1881. The exsiting building dates from a key period of hotel rebuilding (1940) by the breweries in NSW.
SHR Criteria b)
[Associative significance]
Associated with the architect, Virgil D. Cizzio and the brewersTooth and Co.
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
The Imperial Hotel is a good example of an Inter War Art Functionalist style hotel building which is a landmark feature in the local streetscape, being set prominently on a corner site on a bend in Erskineville Road. It is an unusual building in the surrounding area that is dominated by the small scale, tightly knit Victorian residential developments.
SHR Criteria d)
[Social significance]
The site has provided a social focus for the residents of the area since 1881.
SHR Criteria f)
[Rarity]
The building is not rare.
SHR Criteria g)
[Representativeness]
The building is a representative example of a good Inter War Functionalist style building found in Erskinekville and the inner suburbs of Sydney.
Integrity/Intactness: Moderate
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 Conservation Management Plan or Heritage Impact Statement should be prepared for the building prior to any major works being undertaken. There shall be no vertical additions to t he building and no alterations to the façades of the building other than to reinstate original features. Internally significant spaces and fabric to be retained and conserved. Any additions and alterations should be confined to the rear in areas of lesser significance, shall not be visibly prominent and shall be in accordance with the Council's Heritage Development Control Plan.

Listings

Heritage ListingListing TitleListing NumberGazette DateGazette NumberGazette Page
Local Environmental PlanSydney LEP 2012I60814 Dec 12   
Heritage study     

Study details

TitleYearNumberAuthorInspected byGuidelines used
South Sydney Heritage Study1993 Tropman & Tropman Architects  Yes
South Sydney Heritage Study1993 Tropman & Tropman Architects  Yes
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
WrittenJohn Oultram Heritage & Design2001Imperial Hotel, Erskineville Road, Erskineville Proposed Redevelopment: Heritage Impact Statement

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: 2420713


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