Redfern Town Hall Including Interior | NSW Environment & Heritage

Culture and heritage


Redfern Town Hall Including Interior

Item details

Name of item: Redfern Town Hall Including Interior
Type of item: Built
Group/Collection: Community Facilities
Category: Hall Town Hall
Primary address: 73 Pitt Street, Redfern, NSW 2016
Local govt. area: Sydney
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
73 Pitt StreetRedfernSydney  Primary Address

Statement of significance:

Historically significant as evidence of the small inner city council areas which were subsumed into larger municipalities after World War II. Aesthetically significant as a representative of the Victorian Regency style of architecture. Socially significant as a former local community focus.
Date significance updated: 10 Nov 03
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: George Allen Mansfield
Physical description: Two storey Victorian Regency style building with some Italianate influences. It has 5 bay façade symmetrical around a central porch with first floor loggia. The walls are stuccoed and lined to imitate stonework. Projecting mouldings of simple classical design cast shadows on the smooth surface of the walls. The building is set on a sandstone plinth which is visible from Wells Street side. To the rear there is a small courtyard with planter box and shelter for waste bins. Internally it retains many orignal features. the wooden front doors with acid etched lights lead into an entrance foyer. An orignal central staircase leads to the lower and upper halls. The lower hall originally the council chamber is on the first floor looking over Pitt St and contains a fine glass memorial to the fallen from Redfern in the WWI. It also features with carved wooden cornice and trusses. The skirtings are of plaster. The upper hall is on the second floor and is in the rear wing of the buidling looking over the courtyard.The ceiling has been painted but one section has been left as wood to indicate the original appearance. A modern lift connects the floors in addition to the staircase.
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
Good. The building was refurbished in the late 1990s. The slate roof was damaged in the April 1999 Sydney hailstorm and was repaired subsequently.
Date condition updated:21 May 07
Modifications and dates: 1928 change to front façade;;late 1990s front façade reinstated.
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 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.

The Redfern Town Hall was integral with the establishment of Redfern as a municipality. The pivotal period of development in Redfern was from 1842-1890. During this period Redfern progressed from the subdivision of the original land grant to a thriving inner suburb supporting many businesses. The municipality was proclaimed in 1859. 11 years passed before the Town Hall, the first public building was erected at the height of this development. It is an important symbol of growth in the identity of Redfern at this time.
The town hall building was built in 1870. It was an important symbol that contributed to the identity of Redfern as an area. It as built on part of the original Redfern Estate and the first mayor of Redfern George Renwick was instrumental in the purchase of the land. In 1911 the Town Hall was considered unfit by the Public Halls Committee for public gathering due to insufficient ingress and egress. In 1928 the chief secretary’s department refused to issue a license of public gathering until the ingress and egress issue had been remedied and alterations were carried out. A front veranda was added, dramatically altering the appearance of the building. In 1949, Redfern was incorporated along with other small councils into City of Sydney. The former town halls were reused for public purposes such as libraries. In 1954, the Department of attorney General of Justice rented Redfern Town hall to use as a Petty Session Court until 1970. Since 1986 it has been the headquaters of the Redfern Legal Centre.Redfern separated from the City Council in 1968 to form part of the Municipality of South Sydney and then amalgamated into City once more in 1982. South Sydney separated again in 1989 and was re-amalgamated in 2004.
In 1928 alterations to the Pitt St façade were reversed in the late 1990s, restoring the lines of the orignal and the Town Hall was refurbished. The slate roof was repaired again after a severe hailstorm in 1999.

Historic themes

Australian theme (abbrev)New South Wales themeLocal theme
7. Governing-Governing Government and Administration-Activities associated with the governance of local areas, regions, the State and the nation, and the administration of public programs - includes both principled and corrupt activities. (none)-

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
Historically significant as evidence of the small inner city council areas which were subsumed into larger municipalities after World War II. One of the earliest town halls in NSW.
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
Representative of the Victorian Regency style of architecture, retaining distinguishing characteristics of the style.
SHR Criteria d)
[Social significance]
Significant as a former local community focus. The war memorial in the lower hall installed for service people from Redfern area in WWI.
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 2012I133914 Dec 12   
Heritage study     

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
WrittenAnita Heiss Aboriginal People and Place, Barani: Indigenous History of Sydney City
WrittenArchitectural Projects Pty. Ltd.1996Costed Conservation Plan for Redfern Town Hall, Pitt St, Redfern
WrittenCity of Sydney council1938Redfern town Hall Illustrations

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: 2421130

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