Flat Building "Alabama" Including Interior | NSW Environment, Energy and Science

Culture and heritage


Flat Building "Alabama" Including Interior

Item details

Name of item: Flat Building "Alabama" Including Interior
Type of item: Built
Group/Collection: Residential buildings (private)
Category: Flat
Primary address: 7 Ithaca Road, Elizabeth Bay, NSW 2011
Local govt. area: Sydney
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
7 Ithaca RoadElizabeth BaySydney  Primary Address

Statement of significance:

Alabama dates from one of the key period of layers for the development of Elizabeth Bay as a direct result of subdivision of the Elizabeth Bay House estate and occupies the former site of the Linnean Society. It is a good example of an inter -war flat building, having a mixture of design elements from Spanish Mission and Arts and Crafts styles, which makes a positive contribution to the streetscape.
Date significance updated: 18 Jan 12
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: Edward Orchard
Construction years: 1925-1925
Physical description: The building is a three storey Inter-War residential flat building constructed of rendered brickwork with timber double hung windows and timber doors, with a high parapet with bracketed cornice screening a simple skillion roof form, and deep balconies with robust masonry columns and bracketed supports on each level. The building is symmetrical and was constructed in 2 stages with each block containing 6 studio units. It has design elements from Spanish Mission and Arts and Crafts styles. The entrance doors, with timber framing and leadlights, are original and there are leadlight windows to the central stairway.

Significant surviving internal fabric includes the central stair with timber balsutrade and terrazzo treads and some decorative fibrous plaster ceilings such as in the hall on the second floor. There are leadlight windows to the central stairway.
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
The building is in good condition with a high amount of original fabric intact externally.
Date condition updated:01 Jun 07
Modifications and dates: By the completion of the fire upgrade in 1978 original light fittingshad been removed from the main stair, doors to each flat replaced and majority of fibrous plaster ceilings replaced including those on the ground and first floor hallways.
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 European Occupation of Sydney region from 1788 , the Cadigal and Wangal people were largely decimated but there are descendants still living in Sydney today.

In 1809 Colonel William Patterson granted 30 acres of land to Patrick Walsh, a convict who arrived from Ireland in 1801. This area encompassed today’s Potts Point. Potts Point, became known as Paddy's Point, due to its association with Patrick Walsh. In 1810, after the arrival of Governor Macquarie it was reported that all Grants or Orders of Occupancy of Land given by Colonel Patterson would be cancelled and Patrick Walsh waited to be informed if the land he held was to be given up. Patrick Walsh occupied the land at Paddy's Point (Potts Point) until the early 1820’s during which time he cleared part of the land and erected fences and a hut.

In 1822 Patrick Walsh’s land grant was revoked and the land granted to Mr Drennan. Governor Macquarie had built huts for the Aboriginals at Paddy’s Point and requested the successor of Mr Drennan to let him have the land back again in exchange for other land, as he was interested in what could be done in the way of "civilising the adult natives" who still remained on the point. The land was given back and besides building more huts for the local Aboriginal population, Macquarie provided a fishing boat, fishing tackle and salt and casks to salt their fish with, and so established the Cove as a native village. He gave the village the name of Elizabeth Town, in honour of his wife.

The Aborigines had disappeared from Elizabeth Bay after the departure of their Patron Governor Macquarie and his successor, Governor Brisbane, decided on Potts Point as the site for an asylum. Nothing came of this plan and after the departure of Brisbane. Elizabeth Town was granted to important public servants in the Colony who were encouraged to build grand villas.

One of the first of these land grants was made to Sir John Wylde Judge Advocate in 1822 who was Director of the Bank of NSW. The grant was for eleven acres and was situated at the entrance end of Potts Point. The largest of the grants was made to Alexander Macleay, then Colonial Secretary, who received 54 acres in 1826 from Governor Darling. This land grant stretched from the present Macleay Street down to the water’s edge.

By 1831 seventeen grants of land had been made on Woolloomooloo Hill to a selection of the most politically and economically powerful men in the colony. The purpose of the grants was to establish a stylish area of housing, and for this reason there were certain provisos on them. Residences were to be erected within three years, the house was to cost in excess of £1,000 and had to face Government House across the bay.

The final name of the area Potts Point comes form its association with Joseph Hyde Potts, a Clerk with the Bank of NSW, who was appointed Accountant to the Bank of New South Wales and purchased six and a half acres.

In 1891 the Municipal Council of Sydney, decided to mark the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria by naming the Junction of Victoria Street, Darlinghurst Road and upper William Street as Queen’s Cross. Eight years later the City Council decided to remove duplications of names in the city area. Queens Square, in Macquarie Street, named at the time of Victoria’s Golden Jubilee in 1888, clearly had precedence, so Queens Cross became Kings Cross, in line with the gender of the ruling monarch.

Major subdivisions of Macleay’s Estate included the Elizabeth Bay Estate, 1865 allotments on Macleay Street, Elizabeth Bay Road and Roslyn Gardens, Macleay’s Estate 1882 (Billyard Avenue, Onslow Avenue) and Elizabeth Bay House 1927 and 1934, (Onslow Place).

East of Elizabeth Bay Road and along Roslyn Street was the Roslyn Estate and the Barncleath and Kinneil Estates. The Kellet, Eaton and Goderich estates at the southern end were subdivided between 1893 and 1911.

West of Macleay Street, the Challis Estate 1889, and various smaller subdivisions along Victoria Street represent the earliest layer of intensive residential development. Subdivision of the Mansion Estates occurred in the early twentieth century with Tusculum 1901, Campbell Lodge 1910, Grantham Estate, 1922 and Orwell House 1921. Many of the grand houses of the period remained until the 1930’s when many were replaced by flat buildings. A further group were demolished in the 1960’s such that only four sites with grand villas remain today.

The spread of flats in the 1920s and 30s was one of the most marked developments in Sydney housing. It was accompanied by large population increases in the municipalities it affected. Flats were the antithesis of suburbia and nowhere was that more evident than in Kings Cross. Kings Cross became the Montemarte of Sydney. Artists and actors moved into Potts Point. William Street was again widened in the 1920s to relieve the traffic pressure. The idea of a tunnel, making a direct route from St. Mary’s Cathedral to the junction of New South Head and Beach Roads was put forward but never realised.

One of the biggest war-time construction operations was the Captain Cook Graving Dock at Garden Island. The growing naval strength and expansionist policy of Japan in the late 1930’s led to a request from the Admiralty in 1938 that a graving dock be built in Sydney. Work began in July 1940 but was not finished until early 1945. Sydney Metropolitan Water, Sewerage and Drainage Board reclaimed 33 acres of the sea bed between Potts Point and the southern shore of Garden Island. The Americanization of the Cross, the growth of night clubs and strip clubs, black market trading and rampant prostitution, dates largely from the second World War.

In 1969 a roadway linking William Street and Bayswater Road via a tunnel under Victoria Street was constructed. A total of 118 properties were involved in the acquisition and many of the landmarks of the Cross disappeared forever. On 15 December 1975, the Premier of New South Wales, Tom Lewis, officially opened the Kings Cross tunnel.

During the 1970s Potts Point became the focus of the green bans over development plans for Victoria Street which were lodged in October 1971. Many residents on the city side of the street had already moved out, as the principal developer, Frank Theeman’s, Victoria Point Pty. Ltd., offered them favourable terms. Those who wanted to retain the street’s historic buildings for low and middle income earners were not prepared to do so. The New South Wales Builders Labourers Federation indicated that it would block demolition of the buildings with a green ban and hosts of other sympathisers engaged in a protracted battle with the developers. The battle waged on until 1976 when a fifth plan which called for restoration of 22 of the 32 houses on the building site with a 10 storey complex behind them was approved, and the green bans lifted.

The late twentieth century saw increasing property prices in Potts Point and a revived interest in the 1920’s and 1930’s Art Deco buildings.

The Kings Cross / Potts Point precinct is listed on the Australian Heritage Commission Register because it is the only place in Australia with Art Deco development of that scale and in such a high concentration.

The Linnean Society had a meeting hall on the site prior to the erection of Alabama.

Alabama was designed by Edward Orchard in two stages. The first stage including the staircase fronting the road was approved by Council in June 1925 and the back section was approved in July 1925. The building was designed to contain a series of bedsitter flats.

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]
The building has historic significance as it dates from one of the key periods of development for Elizabeth Bay and the subdivision of grand estates and marine villas into residential and commercial development.
SHR Criteria b)
[Associative significance]
The building is associated with the Linnean Society whose meeting hall used to occupy the site.
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
The building is a good example of an Inter War residential flat building which has design elements from Spanish Mission and Arts and Crafts styles.
SHR Criteria d)
[Social significance]
The building demonstrates the move away from houses to the modernity of residential flat buildings in the inner suburbs of Sydney during the inter war period.
SHR Criteria e)
[Research potential]
The area is not identified in an archaeological zoning plan and the area has been well researched and it is unlikely that the site would reveal further information that would contribute to the significance of the area.
SHR Criteria f)
The building is not rare.
SHR Criteria g)
The building is a representative example of a Inter War residential flat building.
Integrity/Intactness: High externally
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.


Heritage ListingListing TitleListing NumberGazette DateGazette NumberGazette Page
Local Environmental PlanSydney LEP 2012I58914 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
WrittenNoni Boyd2003Statement of Heritage Impact

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: 2420838

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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