Terrace Group "Glover Cottages" Including Interiors | NSW Environment, Energy and Science

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Terrace Group "Glover Cottages" Including Interiors

Item details

Name of item: Terrace Group "Glover Cottages" Including Interiors
Other name/s: The Ark
Type of item: Built
Group/Collection: Residential buildings (private)
Category: Terrace
Location: Lat: -33.8632633215986 Long: 151.202883215236
Primary address: 124-134 Kent Street, Millers Point, NSW 2000
Local govt. area: Sydney
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
124-134 Kent StreetMillers PointSydney  Primary Address

Statement of significance:

The Glover Cottages are a rare surviving example of a vernacular single storey semi-detached stone cottage dating from the 1820s in inner Sydney . The cottages evidence the pattern of development of Millers Point prior to the formal layout of the streets where vernacular cottages were built on rock ledges, and are evidence of the process of land subdivision prior to the formal granting of titles. The cottages also indicate the standard of building that survived the post plague demolitions and represents the role of the Sydney Harbour Trust, later the MSB in providing housing for its workers.
Date significance updated: 14 Nov 06
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.


Builder/Maker: Thomas Glover
Construction years: 1820-1838
Physical description: Glover Cottages are constructed on top of a rock shelf above the level of Kent Street. This rock shelf was likely a result of early stone quarrying that took place in this vicinity c1810 -1830s. This work would eventually form a regular alignment to Kent Street. A painted timber picket fence sits on top of the rock outcrop.

The original buildings on this site, part of the group of buildings owned by James Glover, dated from the 1820s. Some of these were demolished and redeveloped in the 1880s, and it appears most of these structures were then demolished during the plague resumption works in 1900, with only Glover Cottages surviving.

Glover Cottages are a pair of single storey semi-detached cottages with an attic. The external walls could almost be considered coursed rubble but are roughly dressed into courses with double height coursed quoins. The eaves level is at about 1½ storeys to give head room to the attic. Openings have large stone lintels with voussior relieving arches above (which are more decorative than functional), and have very well dressed projecting stone sills that appear to be more recent replacements. At the rear the coursing becomes more irregular. The walls are about 18” (460mm) thick and in areas of smaller stones may be two skins filled with mortar and rubble. Stone would have been readily available from the active stone quarry at the time of construction, although the irregularity of the blocks suggests they were off-cuts and the like.

Windows to King Street are timber 12 pane double hung with a very thick frame, and based on early photographs are likely to be reconstructions. The doors to King Street are flush beaded four panel doors, which once again have a very thick frame. The doors at the rear are matching flush beaded four panel doors with a timber awning and a relatively recent and unworn stone threshold. The four pane dormer windows are centred on the eaves line and have a separate roof that extends to the ridge.

The planning is mirrored and each cottage consists of a single large rectangular room with a chimney on the common wall. Central timber partitions divided each cottage into two rooms. A steep internal corner stair with winders provided access to the attic, which was similarly divided. The interior has not been accessed but a draft CMP dated 2000 seems to indicate that the central party wall has been removed, a mezzanine structure has been introduced around the chimney and that new finishes and modern ceilings have been introduced. The stone chimney was painted, and all joinery was painted white. It appears that the interior has been substantially altered.

The cottages share a hipped roof with no eaves, and do not have a projecting party wall. The only projection is a very simple sandstock brick chimney with a simple stretcher bond instead of Colonial or English, and thus may not be contemporary with the cottage. A brick rear addition replaced the original stone separate kitchen block in 1890, and the chimney may have been rebuilt at this time. The roof is presently clad with timber shingles, which is a recent reconstruction as a 1978 photo shows the roof clad with the corrugated iron that was introduced around 1900. The eaves detail presently consists of a timber fascia planted on the wall with quad guttering. The rear addition has undergone further demolition and alteration in the 1970s.
Modifications and dates: Refer to Historical Notes
Further information: Was a heritage item in 1989, listing revoked under LEP 1992-conservation of heritage items. The listing was reinstated under H-LEP 2000 and the property has remained a listed heritage item since.

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: Offices, Australian Institute of International Affairs
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. 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 cottages purchased and built by Thomas Glover were to provide additional income for his family. Glover had purchased the property in the mid 1820s from Edward Ewen, a cooper. Edward Cox had made the bargain for Glover who paid 145 pounds for the land on which there was a house. The transfer of ownership had been drawn up by Mr Nott, a school master and Edward Cox was a witness to the deed. James Pashley was employed by Glover to repair the house on the property. He was later employed to build two houses on the allotment for Thomas Glover. An exact date of their construction is not clear, but it appears from a court hearing regarding the rightful owners of the estate after the death of Thomas Glover, suggests that the late 1820s seems likely. The repairs to the existing house were carried out in c1827-1828 and the two cottages built afterwards. Thomas Glover died interstate in 1836 and his widow had since married John Cooper and had left the Colony to go to New Zealand. A case was held in the Court of Claims in 1840 over ownership of the land. This court dealt with claims to allotments of land for which formal grants had not been issued but which were then in occupation, many of them built upon. As a result of the Court of Claims the land was formally granted in trust to James Glover (Thomas’ son). The property continued in ownership of the Glover family and was used for the benefit of Thomas Glover’s children and their descendants until the property was resumed by the Government in 1900.

The allotment of land which was granted in trust for James Glover continued to be developed. For the next sixty years the buildings erected on it provided homes for members of the family and also rental income. By the late 1820s there were three houses on the site, the two storey house on the northern boundary, built by Edward Cureton, and to the south the two Glover Cottages. An entry into the Town Survey Records of 1832 suggests that a fourth cottage may have been added to the site at this time. In 1845, shortly after he became twenty-one, James Glover transferred the land to the use of his younger siblings, John and Mary Anne with the rents of the properties to provide a source of income for the siblings. In 1854 John Glover leased the southern end of allotment to Theodore West, engineer for one pound per week. The 1856 survey shows fives structures on the Glover allotment. The two storey house on the northern end, the two semi-detached cottages and their outbuildings, a cottage set well back from the street frontage and a building at the southern end, presumably the newest, occupied by West. In the following decade changes in the Glover family led to John Glover acquiring the whole of the original family allotment, having transferred the southern part of the allotment to four of his children. By 1880 the house at the southern end had been demolished, the property being leased as vacant land to postman, William Rostron. Within the next decade the area under lease was redeveloped. By 1889 one residence had been erected on the street frontage, with a rectangular building set back from the street. Between 1889 and 1897 another building was erected on the street frontage.

The cottage set back from the street boundary was also demolished and between 1890-1889 was replaced by two residences. When these changes were made the southern boundary of the Glover cottages was also altered. When the new houses were built a definite boundary was established for the southern Glover Cottage extending in a straight line in continuation of the south wall to the foot of the cliff face to the east. Between 1889 and 1897 an area at the back of the south cottage was fenced off. By the late 19th or very early 20th century the Glover Cottages had acquired the name of ‘The Ark’, presumably because perched up on a rock above Kent Street, they looked like Noah’s Ark.

In 1900 the Glover’s Kent Street property was included in the large scale resumption of land made under the Darling Harbour Wharves Resumption Act following the outbreak of the bubonic plague. Although the land was resumed as part of the extensive remodelling of the wharfs, it was never required for this purpose and the houses on the Glover allotment continued to be let for residential use. In 1967 the area including the Glover land was reassigned to be used for educational purposes associated with Fort Street High School. Following the removal of the school to Petersham the school site and other adjacent properties were returned to the crown. In 1978 the cottages were recorded by the Public Works Department and in 1979 restored for non residential use and an addition built at the back.

Historic themes

Australian theme (abbrev)New South Wales themeLocal theme
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Mining-Activities associated with the identification, extraction, processing and distribution of mineral ores, precious stones and other such inorganic substances. Quarrying-
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-
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 (none)-

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
The Glover Cottages are of historical significance as a quality solid masonary building constructed prior to the formal granting of the land, indicating the optimism of the ticket of leave convicts. The documentary evidence and the sequence of early surveys of the area indicate the process of granting formal title to the land. The buildings were intended to provide an income rather than as a principal residence.

The successive outbreaks of the plague between 1901-1910 resulted in extensive demolition in The Rocks and Millers Point. The building is historically significanct having been retained for public housing, managed by the Sydney Harbour Trust (later the MSB).
SHR Criteria b)
[Associative significance]
The building is associated with the commercial activities of Thomas Glover, a Cumberland Street publican in developing his lot to provide an income. The location of the cottages adjacent to the Kent Street quarries indicates his occupation.
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
The cottages are a rare early example of Colonial Georgian architecture within Millers Point adopted from the English rural prototype used in a colonial town as an urban building form.

The semi-detached single storey form was an English vernacular form imported almost directly to the colonies and exhibits no modifications to suit the Australian climate (ie: verandahs).
SHR Criteria d)
[Social significance]
The cottages are associated with the pattern of social linkages within The Rocks and Millers Point prior to 1850. The cottages also indicate the changing philosophy relating to heritage conservation since the introduction of the Burra Charter.
SHR Criteria e)
[Research potential]
The building and layout of the cottages have the ability to demonstrate past development and practices associated with the Millers Point area and associated 1820s period.

The cottages demonstrate past approaches to design and detailing from the 1820s and is a fine example of robust construction.
SHR Criteria f)
The cottages are a rare example of extant cottages displaying a configuration typical of the colonial building form, material and finish within Sydney, and are one of the few remaining examples of small houses dating from the 1820s.
SHR Criteria g)
The construction of the building on the rocks shelf above the street level represents the earliest pattern of development of The Rocks and Millers Point, with buildings following the curved rock ledges.

The cottages survived the post plague demolitions, indicating that they were solidly built and properly drained and ventilated. All of the buildings were inspected by the Government Architects Branch, the cottages representing a adequate standard of construction as they were retained.
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 Local Environmental Plan 2012I92514 Dec 12   
Heritage study     

Study details

TitleYearNumberAuthorInspected byGuidelines used
Millers Point & Walsh Bay Heritage Review2006 Paul Davies Pty Ltd  No

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
WrittenAnita Heiss Aboriginal People and Place, Barani: Indigenous History of Sydney City
WrittenOtto Cserhalmi & Partners2000 Conservation Management Plan – Richmond Villa & Glover Cottages, Kent Street Millers Point
WrittenPowell, C. "Catalogue of Artefacts from Glover Cottage, Kent Street, Sydney".

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: 2423504

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