Former Surrey Hotel Including Interiors | NSW Environment & Heritage

Culture and heritage


Former Surrey Hotel Including Interiors

Item details

Name of item: Former Surrey Hotel Including Interiors
Other name/s: Surry Hotel/Bijou Hotel/Colonnade Hotel;louis Vuitton Building
Type of item: Built
Group/Collection: Commercial
Category: Hotel
Location: Lat: -33.8707454253137 Long: 151.208329611903
Primary address: 153 King Street, Sydney, NSW 2000
Local govt. area: Sydney
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
153 King StreetSydneySydney  Primary Address

Statement of significance:

Christian Dior, formerly the Surrey Hotel, is a four storey building of Interwar Free Classical Style, located on a prominent corner block. The building has historic significance as an important building in the professional work of the noted architect Provost, for the lengthy tradition of hotel trade on this site since 1860's, and for its ability to reflect the development of King Street as a major city cross street. It has high aesthetic significance as a rare and outstanding example of a highly intact terracotta clad exterior with outstanding potential to continue in its restored state. It has social significance for its role as part of a network of purpose built hotels which provided both a social and recreational venue, and budget accommodation in the city. It has high scientific significance for its early use of a terracotta clad exterior.
Date significance updated: 23 Feb 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: Prevost, Synnot & Ruwald (1928)
Builder/Maker: Unknown
Construction years: 1860-1860
Physical description: Dior, formerly the Surrey Hotel (1860's) is located on a prominent corner block. It is built in the Inter-War Free Classical Style. The facade is tripartite with the facade below the awning modified from its 1928 hotel appearance. Above the awning rusticated piers divide the two facades and corner of the building. Three equal windows are positioned to the east and five to the north. One window faces the corner. The piers stop at the third floor where an alternating green terracotta frieze and profile parapet terminates the facade. The facade above the awning is cream terracotta. The windows are twelve pane double hung. The first floor openings have entablatures above transom lights. A recent slate mansard roof with dormer windows provides an additional floor above the facade. The plan is rectangular without any light wells. Internally the building is fully renovated. Category:Individual Building. Style:Inter War Free Classical. Storeys:4 (Ground, First, Second & Third Floor plus roof level and mezzanine). Facade:Glazed terracotta tiles, Timber windows. Side/Rear Walls:Glazed terracotta tiles. Internal Walls:Platerboard & Stud. Roof Cladding:Slate tile. Internal Structure:Loadbearing walls, Reinf. conc. slab. Floor:Reinf. conc. slab. Roof:Timber framing. Ceilings:Susp. plasterboard. Stairs:1. Sprinkler System:Yes. Lifts:1. AirConditioned:Yes
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
The exterior above the awning from the first floor to the third floor is highly intact. Below the awning the ceramic tiles have been removed and window openings enlarged. Above the third storey a slate mansard roof with dormer has been added. Internally the building has fully upgraded by the removal of internal walls and finishes with the exception of an original stair..
Date condition updated:05 Jan 06
Modifications and dates: c. 1860, 1928 (Rebuilding)
Further information: High Significance:The facade above the awning from first to third floor. Medium Significance:The facade below the awning. Low Significance:Any remaining interior spaces in particular the intact internal stair.:Brian McDonald (1999) Comments:was a heritage item in 1989, and has remained so 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: Retail
Former use: Hotel


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 )

In 1880 a three-storey brick building called the Colonnade Hotel occupied this site, the south-west corner of King and Castlereagh Streets. A hotel of that name had existed on the site from at least 1861. It replaced an earlier single-storey building licensed in 1858 as The Carrier's Arms. In the 1870's the Colonnade was one of 13 hotels within 50 yards of the corner of King and Castlereagh Streets; the most dense concentration of hotels in the Sydney city area. In 1883 the Colonnade became Tanner's Hotel, then changed again in 1884 to McCleery's Hotel, and again in 1891 to the Bijou Hotel. A photograph of the Bijou taken around this time shows the building with a flat roof and a colonnaded parapet. In 1896 the name changed again when the hotel was licensed to Frank Underwood as the Surrey Hotel. Underwood had been the licensee of the former Surrey Arms on the corner of King and Castlereagh Streets. The hotel remained the Surrey for the next 80 years. Around 1909 a floor was added to the hotel featuring a corner tower. In 1912 Culwulla Chambers was built around the Surrey Hotel with facades to both King and Castlereagh Streets, dwarfing the building. The owners of the Surrey Hotel apparently refused to sell their premises to the developers of Culwulla Chambers and the owners of Culwulla Chambers publicly "regretted" the "ugly corner" that the hotel formed in relation to their new skyscraper (Daily Telegraph 18.10.1912 pp.10-11.) Culwulla Chambers was notable at the time it was built as Sydney's tallest building, and the hotel is important for its role in determining the unusual form of the building. By 1928 Tooth & Co owned the hotel and commissioned architects Prevost, Synnot and Ruwald to remodel the building. The present facade dates from this time.

The site remained in use as a hotel until the beginning of the 1980s. Tooth & Co finally sold the
hotel around 1984 to Blaze Investments Company Pty Limited, which sold it about two years later
to Franklin Robert Sharpe.19 The building was progressively adapted for use as retailing premises.
It was acquired by Louis Vuitton Japan KK in 1987, 20 becoming the Sydney store of the long
established French firm, Louis Vuitton, and undergoing modification to suit the purposes of its new
owner. The fourth floor, contained within a mansard roof, was added to the building around

A development application D/2011/2095 refurbished the building, and some inter-connected areas of the adjacent Culwulla House in King and Castlereagh Streets as a retail premises for Dior.

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 building is important for its ability to explain the unusual shape of Culwulla Chambers built around it, which was a catalyst for the 1912 Height of Buildings Act. It is significant due to the lengthy tradition of hotel trade on this site since the late 1850's and as a remnant of a former hotel precinct, part of the most dense concentration of hotels in the city in the 1870's. The quality of the facade reflects the development of King Street as a major city cross street. Has historic significance at a State level.
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
This building is outstanding for the early use of architectural terracotta in Australia. Has aesthetic significance at a State level. Cultural:The building is a rare and outstanding example of a highly intact 1920's terracotta clad exterior with outstanding potential to continue in its restored state. It is an important building in the professional work of the noted architect Prevost, well known for the design of many hotels in Sydney. It is important as a reflection of the use of an earlier building form, the mansard roof in later extensions. The realised and unrealised facades contribute to an understanding of the style debate of the 1920's.
SHR Criteria f)
The building is significant in association with Culwulla for its ability to contribute to an understanding of the 1912 Height of Building Act, demonstrating the pressure on city investors to reuse existing buildings within extensions and resist high rise expansion. The facade quality reflects the development of King Street as a major city cross street. The site is significant due to the lengthy tradition of hotel trade since 1860's, and as a remnant of a former hotel precinct which contained the most dense concentration of hotels in the city in 1860.
SHR Criteria g)
The building is typical of the two to three storey corner hotels which were prevalent in Sydney in the 1800's and early 1900's
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. As the building form is critical to an understanding of the unusual form of Culwulla and it's controversial status as the tallest building of its time, the addition of further floors to the building should not be permitted. The terracotta tiled facade should remain unpainted, while the timber windows should continue to be painted in appropriate colours. Exterior: All remaining intact fabric on the external facades (above the awning) should be preserved. Any future development should preserve the existing form, external surfaces and materials of the facade. Future work should attempt to recover significance by reconstruction of the original awning. Door and windows openings should not be enlarged or closed in. Interior: As the shopfronts at ground level and the interior have been extensively remodelled and there is little fabric of significance remaining, further alterations could be acceptable provided that this work does not adversely affect the external fabric of the building. 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. 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 2012I184514 Dec 12   
Heritage study     

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
Written  Sands Sydney Directories,
Written  Sydney City Council Archives CRS 51: 51/6/473 and 51/6/475;
Written  Land Titles Office: Old Systems conveyances Book 51 no.4
Written  Archives office of New South Wales Plan Nos 73006-73007; Sydney City Council Archives: Rate Assessment Books
WrittenAnita Heiss Aboriginal People and Place, Barani: Indigenous History of Sydney City
WrittenLUMBY, Roy.2011Christian Dior 149-143 King Street Sydney - Statement 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: 2423798

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