Alexandria Town Hall including interior | NSW Environment & Heritage

Culture and heritage


Alexandria Town Hall including interior

Item details

Name of item: Alexandria Town Hall including interior
Type of item: Built
Group/Collection: Community Facilities
Category: Hall Town Hall
Primary address: 73 Garden Street, Alexandria, NSW 2015
Local govt. area: Sydney
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
73 Garden StreetAlexandriaSydney  Primary Address

Statement of significance:

AIexandria Town Hall is a representative example of a Victorian Town Hall modified with an Inter-War Free Classical style façade. It is representative of the work of two relatively prominent architectural practices of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries although that of the DT Morrow and Gordon practice predominate. It has important historical associations with the local community and local government in the area and serves as a representative indicator of the small inner-city Council areas which were subsumed into larger municipalities after World War II.
Date significance updated: 01 Dec 16
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: Ferdinand Reuss Snr (1881) and DT Morrow and Gordon (1928)
Construction years: 1881-1928
Physical description: Alexandria Town Hall is a two-storey brick building with hipped corrugated iron roof. Has an Inter-War Free Classical style façade that is largely intact. The façade is finished in facebrick relieved by cement render ornament around windows and the main entry, emphasised by a balcony overhead and recessed slightly back into the façade itself. A heavy projecting cornice and stepped cornice topped off the composition while a coursed base ties the façade to the street. The northern and southern sides of the building show that the Garden Street façade was added to the earlier Victorian structure, for it extends back for one bay - the decorative cornices and moldings of the earlier portion then extend back to the rear of the building. A continuous parapet conceals much of the building's roof.
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
As a result of the April 1999 Sydney hailstorm, 8 windows were broken and there was minor water damage to the building. All damage was subseqently repaired.
Date condition updated:21 May 07
Modifications and dates: Major alterations took place in 1928 to the design of DT Morrow and Gordon.
1949 - Ground floor alterations when the town hall was converted into a library.
1953-53 - Modification to first floor lavatory and erection of a new section for toilets between the Town Hall and former Mayor's house - works documented by Eric Nichols.
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. .

With European occupation of the Sydney region from 1788, the Cadigal and Wangal people were largely decimated but there are descendants still living in Sydney today.

The site is part of William Hutchinson’s 1400 acre grant. William Hutchinson came to New South Wales as a convict in 1799. In 1814 he was appointed Principal Superintendent of Convicts and Public Works. Hutchinson, Daniel Cooper and others established a water powered flour mill on Crown land in an area named Waterloo around 1818. Botany Road was constructed by Governor Macquarie to access the flour mills. In 1823, 1400 acres of the surrounding district was granted to Hutchinson by Governor Brisbane in recognition of his public service. Hutchinson sold his Waterloo Estate to Daniel Cooper and Solomon Levey in 1825. When Solomon Levey died in 1833 all property went to Daniel Cooper. Cooper’s Estate at Waterloo passed to his great nephew on his death in 1853, and was locally managed by Mr Gerard Phillips.

The subject area was originally part of the Municipality of Redfern from 1858. In 1860, Waterloo Municipality was formed with Alexandria forming the west ward. Alexandria was named after Princess Alexandria in 1863. A petition for formation of a new Municipality was produced following rapid growth in the area in the 1860s and the Municipality of Alexandria was incorporated in 1868.

The Alexandria Park area was occupied by Chinese Market Gardeners in the nineteenth century encouraged by fresh water supply. An area of 10 acres south of Buckland Street was resumed for Public Park on November 14th 1882. The park was proclaimed in 1889 and in 1897, two hundred trees were sent to the Park by the Sydney Botanic Gardens. Mitchell’s Road was an important early route through the area.

The area consolidated in the 1870s with workers housing and the site for a Town Hall was acquired in Garden Street in 1879. In 1881 a building to the design of Ferdinand Reuss Snr was completed. By 1893 a two storey terrace, serving as as The Mayor's Residence, was constructed on a vacant lot to the north of the Town Hall and aligned with the front of the hall. Major alterations to the Town Hall, which included a new façade to the design of the prominent practice of DT Morrow and Gordon took place in 1928.

The Town Hall has been used for a wide range of commnity uses over time. This included being used for a Public School in the 1880s and 1890s. In 1919 it fulfilled the functions of a temporary hospital, soup kitchen and general haven during the great influenza epidemic which swept the world. From the 1940s to the 1990s part of the ground floor was used for the Women's Library.

Historic themes

Australian theme (abbrev)New South Wales themeLocal theme
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]
It is directly associated with the growth and development of the former Municipality of Alexandria. Its site is part of the early Cooper Estate, having being purchased for the purpose of a town hall in 1879. It is also historically significant as a representative indicator of the small inner-city Council areas which were subsumed into larger municipalities after World War II.
SHR Criteria b)
[Associative significance]
The remnants of the 1881 section of the Town Hall are thought to be an uncommon example of a civic building designed by Ferdninand Reuss Senior, an architectural practitioner more notable for his activities as a surveyor. The 1928 works are representative of the works of architects DT Morrow and Gordon, a relatively prominent firm in the Inter-War period.
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
The façade is a representative example of the Inter-War Free Classical style of architecture which contributes to the character of the streetscape.
SHR Criteria d)
[Social significance]
Represents a community focus.
SHR Criteria g)
Representative of a Victorian Town Hall modified with an Inter-War Free Classical style facade.
Integrity/Intactness: Intact
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:

Review and update existing CMP. The overall form and significant features of the building should be retained and conserved. All conservation, adaptive reuse and future development should be undertaken in accordance with the Australia ICOMOS Charter for Places of Cultural Significance (The Burra Charter). A Heritage Impact Statement, in accordance with the policies and recommendations of the Conservation Management plan prepared for the building, is to be prepared prior to works being undertaken, unless of a minor nature and which will not impact on the significance of the building. There shall be no vertical additions to the building and no alterations to the façade of the building other than to reinstate original features. Internally, significant details and layout of primary rooms and spaces to be retained and conserved. Any alterations should be confined to the rear in areas of lesser significance, provided any future work does not compromise significant aspects of the building. Surfaces intended for painting should continue to be painted in appropriate colours. Any future development to preserve the existing form, external surfaces, fenestration and materials of the primary facades.


Heritage ListingListing TitleListing NumberGazette DateGazette NumberGazette Page
Local Environmental PlanSydney LEP 2012I1514 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 View detail
WrittenRod Howard Heritage Conservation Pty Ltd1998Heritage Impact Statement and 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: 2420816

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.