Former "City Bank of Sydney & Post Office" Including Interiors | NSW Environment & Heritage

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Heritage

Former "City Bank of Sydney & Post Office" Including Interiors

Item details

Name of item: Former "City Bank of Sydney & Post Office" Including Interiors
Other name/s: Windermere Chambers,city Bank of Sydney Western Branch & King Street Post Office
Type of item: Built
Group/Collection: Commercial
Category: Bank
Location: Lat: -33.8705130892419 Long: 151.202686319044
Primary address: 138 Sussex Street, Sydney, NSW 2000
Local govt. area: Sydney
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
138 Sussex StreetSydneySydney  Primary Address
23-25 King StreetSydneySydney  Alternate Address

Statement of significance:

The building formerly the City Bank of Sydney & Post Office, is located on the prominent corner of King and Sussex Streets. It is a three storey building of Victorian Italianate style. The building has high historic significance as an important building in the professional work of the noted architect W L Vernon, in association with H Joseland and the building firm J C Harrison. It has high historic significance for its association with one of three competitions held as a result of the reorganisation of the Colonial Architect prior to Vernon assuming that position. It has high historic significance for its reflection of the development of Darling Harbour trade and commercial precinct related to warehousing, the wharves, and the development of King Street as a major city cross street. The building has historic significance as the second most important branch of the City Bank. The building has high aesthetic significance for its extent of original exterior and interior fabric with outstanding potential, due to its successive restorations, to continue in its restored state. The building is significant for its contribution as a landmark building to the King and Sussex streetscape.
Date significance updated: 05 Jan 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.

Description

Designer/Maker: W L Vernon & Howard Joseland
Builder/Maker: J C Harrison & Son
Construction years: 1880-1890
Physical description: The building is located on the prominent corner of King and Sussex Streets. The three storey Victorian Italianate facade is ashlar stone with a rusticated base. A dominant chamfered corner marks the entry to the former banking chamber, with secondary entrances with circular and oval motifs over. A series of arched windows with semicircular highlights occur at the base. The first floor windows have semicircular pediments with some triangular pediments to the second floor. Both feature bays with carved stone supports and wide windows with internal timber divisions. The building is topped by a stone balustrade pediment and corner octagonal tower. Stone urns to either side of the tower have been removed. The City Bank inscription has been removed. The stonework is finely carved and features a keystone in the image of Queen Victoria. The plan is rectangular with a rear light well. Internally the stair is located centrally between the banking chamber and offices. The stair bifurcates at the upper level. Category:Vacant. Style:Victorian Italianate. Storeys:3 (Ground first & second). Facade:Sandstone. Side/Rear Walls:Sandstone. Internal Walls:Plastered hollow terra cotta brick walls. Roof Cladding:Waterproof membrane. Internal Structure:Loadbearing walls and timber beams. Floor:Reinf. conc. slab, Timber joists & boards. Roof:Rein. conc slab. Ceilings:Decorative plaster, Setplaster on soffit, Timber Boarding. Stairs:1. Sprinkler System:Yes. AirConditioned:Yes
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
The building as built in 1891 is largely intact externally and in excellent condition. The interior is highly intact and the major spaces have been restored. Some 1920 panelling exists on the ground floor and original marble fireplaces are also extant. The basement has been modified and there is water penetration at the upper levels. Stone urns to either side of the tower have been removed.
Date condition updated:03 Feb 09
Modifications and dates: 1890-1891
Further information: High Significance:All the intact original fabric of the north and west facade.
All the intact original fabric of the interior in particular the main ground floor spaces with decorative plasterwork, and the stair. Medium Significance:All the intact original fabric of the interior to the first and second floors. Low Significance:The interiors of the cellar and the rooftop flooring. Was a heritage item in 1989, as at 05/2003 no changes have been made to the listing since that time.

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: Individual Building
Former use: Post Office, Bank

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. 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 City Bank of Sydney (established in 1863) opened its "Western Branch" on this site in 1875. The Head Office of the Bank was in Pitt Street and other city branches were opened in Oxford Street (1875), Haymarket (1892) Town Hall (1896) and 336 Pitt Street (1912). The original Western Branch building was a three storey brick corner structure with two storey brick terrace housing adjoining it in 1880, a pawnbroker, the King Street branch post office and a produce merchant. The building was remodelled in 1890-1891 following a limited competition for the design. The competition was won by W L Vernon and Howard Joseland as joint architects, and the building was one of the works in progress at the time of Vernon's appointment to the position of Government Architect in August 1890. Drawings and plans of the buildings were published in Building & Engineering Journal in September 1893, explaining that the banking chamber and post office occupied the ground floor of the building, with the upper floors of the post office set apart as the postmaster's residence. The building work was carried out by J C Harrison and Sons at a cost of £14,388. A souvenir booklet published by the City Bank of Sydney in 1913 for its jubilee revealed that the "Western Branch" alone of the city branches approached the stature of the head office of the bank in scale and substance. This scale is an obvious reflection of the commercial significance of Darling Harbour, with its many wharves, shipping offices and trading companies. The Australian Bank of Commerce purchased the City Bank of Sydney in 1918 and was itself amalgamated with the Bank of New South Wales in 1932. At that time the Bank occupied the ground floor and a wheat exporter used the first floor for warehousing.

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)-

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
The scale and grandeur of this building reflect the nineteenth century commercial importance of Darling Harbour as a maritime trading precinct. It is an important work in the professional careers of noted architects W L Vernon and Howard Joseland. It is particularly significant as the product of a limited series of competitions held as a result of the reorganisation of the Colonial Architect's department, prior to Vernon's appointment. The building has importance as a remnant of a formerly colonial banking group. Has historic significance at a State level.
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
Has aesthetic significance at a State level. Cultural:The building is rare for its extent of original exterior and interior fabric. The building has outstanding potential due to its successive restorations to continue in its restored state. The design of the building is well resolved throughout, and is particularly noted for fine stonework, interior plasterwork, and for the use of symbolism such as Queen Victoria appearing in the keystone. The building is significant for its contribution as a landmark building to the King and Sussex streetscape
SHR Criteria d)
[Social significance]
The provision in the original building of residential quarters for a postmaster on the one hand and for the bank's housekeeper on the other, serves to reflect the lower status of a postmaster relative to a bank manager in colonial society. Has social significance at a State level.The building is rare for its extent of original exterior and interior fabric. The building has outstanding potential due to its successive restorations to continue in its restored state. The design of the building is well resolved throughout, and is particularly noted for fine stonework, interior plasterwork, and for the use of symbolism such as Queen Victoria appearing in the keystone. The building is significant for its contribution as a landmark building to the King and Sussex streetscape
SHR Criteria f)
[Rarity]
The building is rare as the product of one of three competitions held as a result of the reorganisation of the Colonial Architect, prior to Vernon assuming that position. It predates the influence of the arts and craft style on his work for which he is better known.
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:

General: A conservation plan should be prepared to guide the future use and maintenance of the place. The overall form of the building should be retained and conserved, with no additional floors permitted, since the original building is a highly visible landmark. Surfaces never intended for painting, such as the exterior stonework should remain unpainted, whilst those finishes such as window frames and doors which were originally painted, should continue to be painted in appropriate colours. Exterior: All remaining intact fabric on the facades such as the stone detailing, should be conserved. Any future development should preserve the existing form, external surfaces and materials of the facade. Door and windows openings should not be enlarged or closed in. Interior: All remaining intact fabric on the interior such as the main decorative plastered chambers and stair, should be preserved. 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.

Listings

Heritage ListingListing TitleListing NumberGazette DateGazette NumberGazette Page
Local Environmental PlanSydney LEP 2012I195914 Dec 12   
Heritage study     

Study details

TitleYearNumberAuthorInspected byGuidelines used
25 King Street Sydney - Conservation Plan1996 Graham Brooks and Associates  No

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
Written 1913Jubilee Souvenir: The City Bank of Sydney 1863-1913
Written 1893Building and Engineering Journal 23 Sept. 1893,
Written  RAIA Awards 79 pp.41-43, Measured drawings
Written  Sand's Sydney Directories,
WrittenAnita Heiss Aboriginal People and Place, Barani: Indigenous History of Sydney City
WrittenGraham Brooks1996 25 King Street Sydney : conservation plan by Graham Brooks and Associates. Graham Brooks and Associates, 1996. 25 King Street Sydney: Conservation Plan

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: 2423785


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