Former Treasury Building Including Interiors | NSW Environment & Heritage

Culture and heritage

Heritage

Former Treasury Building Including Interiors

Item details

Name of item: Former Treasury Building Including Interiors
Other name/s: Former Treasury Buildings & Premier's Office; Intercontinental Hotel
Type of item: Complex / Group
Group/Collection: Government and Administration
Category: Other - Government & Administration
Location: Lat: -33.8645369536515 Long: 151.211289606415
Primary address: 115-119 Macquarie Street, Sydney, NSW 2000
Local govt. area: Sydney
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
115-119 Macquarie StreetSydneySydney  Primary Address

Statement of significance:

The former Treasury Buildings group (within the Intercontinental Hotel complex) is an outstanding example of the state's 19th- early 20th century public buildings and forms part of what is arguably the finest group of these sandstone buildings in NSW. The architectural forms and detailing of the group, with its strong links to Victorian "Neo-Classical" traditions, make it an extremely fine exemplar of this style and reflect important contemporary links with English architectural practice. The facade of Lewis's original building in particular is a premier example in NSW of 19th century "Italian Palazzo" style based closely on a London model. The bold but sympathetically related Vernon additions fronting Macquarie Street are impressively proportioned and detailed and represent an excellent and perhaps unique example of late Victorian eclectic architecture in NSW.

The site's contribution to the significant streetscapes of Macquarie and Bridge Streets is both large and indisputable, with the siting, form, materials and detailing enhancing the adjacent precincts of early buildings.

Historically the building group is significant because of its long association with the NSW Treasury and the state treasurer's and premier's offices.
Date significance updated: 06 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: M. Lewis; W.L Vernon; G. McRae
Construction years: 1849-1849
Physical description: The present site development includes an attached group of significant 19th and early 20th sandstone buildings fronting Macquarie and Bridge Streets (to the east and south of the site), a linking courtyard/cortile which includes remnant 19th century arcades and reconstructed stair (in the center of the site) and a modern (1980s) high rise Hotel building to the north-west. The significant early buildings include the original Treasury Building by Mortimer Lewis (1849-1851) on the south-east corner of the site, the original Strong Room (1896-1898) and connecting Link Building (1898-1900) by Walter Liberty Vernon fronting Macquarie Street and the western extension of Lewis's building along Bridge Street by George McCrae (1916-19). The physical and functional links between these buildings are further reinforced their placing, form and massing, the use of a common vocabulary of Victorian Neo-Classical elements - which borrow strongly from the Italian urban Palazzo - and their shared materials, most notably the use of Sydney sandstone for the main facades. Each building also has a basement, articulated with rusticated stone in the traditional manner, and progressively revealed by the slope of the site to the north.

Internally these buildings and the remnant early components in the central cortile provide much important evidence about the layout and architectural character of the original structures with much significant fabric retained including timber joinery, decorative ceiling and wall finishes, marble fireplaces and built in furniture. Spaces of particular importance include the former Premier's Room, the main entry lobby and adjoining rooms in the Vernon wing and the interconnected offices of the Lewis Wing. Category:Group of Buildings. Style:Victorian Free Classical with Italianate "Palazzo" influences. Storeys:2 + Basement. Facade:Sandstone; timber joinery; iron & stone palisade fence. Side/Rear Walls:Sandstone; timber joinery; face brick with stone dressings to external walls & colonnade to cortile.. Internal Walls:Plastered stone. Roof Cladding:Slate tile (Lewis & McRae wings); copper sheeting (Vernon wing). Internal Structure:Load bearing walls & timber beams. Floor:Timber joists & boards. Roof:Timber framing. Ceilings:Plastered generally; some with elaborate cornices; glazed lightwell over cortile; Set plaster on framing. Stairs:Early timber stair off entry to Lewis wing from Macquarie Street. Fire Stairs:Various modern & fire stairs in adjacent to new hotel and colonnade. Sprinkler System:Yes. Lifts:Relocated cage lift in north-west corner of cortile; Modern lifts in main hotel foyer. Airconditioned: Yes.
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
Intrusive Elements:Unsympathetic and permanent removals of/changes to significant original layout and fabric.
Modifications and dates: 1849-1851; 1896-1900; 1916-1919; (Hotel & Alterations; 1982-1985)
Further information: High Significance:All external original/early components both to Macquarie & Bridge Streets and original/early features and fabric to the central cortile (including lift, remnant colonnade structures). Internally, the main spaces retained/reconstructed from original/ earlier layouts including the entrance lobby and flanking rooms in Vernon's wing (level 1), the Premier's room and associated flanking rooms (level 2), the entry lobby, stair hall, flanking offices and interconnected Albert Rooms in the Lewis wing. Medium Significance:The building's secondary spaces internally which retain important evidence of the original layout and/or fabric. Low Significance:Adapted/modified interiors of lesser spaces/areas.

Was heritage item in 1989 and remains an item to the present.

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: Private Hotel
Former use: Public Offices & facilities for Treasury & Audit office, NSW Premier & Later various Govt. departments

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 )

In 1849, just before the gold rush, a new building for the Colonial Treasurer and Auditor was commissioned from the Colonial Architect, Mortimer Lewis. The building, in the former garden of First Government House, was finished in 1851, with two frontages, one to Bridge Street for the Audit Office, the other to Macquarie Street for the Treasury. Its design owed a great deal to the Travellers’ Club of 1829 in London’s Pall Mall. The two separate offices were demarcated by an interior dividing wall. Lewis’s successor, Edmund Blacket, added a coach-house and stables to the north by 1853.

The party wall was breached in 1873 when the Treasury took over the Audit Office’s area, as well as erecting temporary buildings between the main offices and the stables. The Government Architect, Walter Vernon, added a large fire-proof Strong Room for the safety of documents in 1896-1898 to the north of the stables and in 1898-1900 he provided a Link Building, connecting the Strong Room to the Lewis building along Macquarie Street. This demolished the eastern part of Blacket’s stables (and most of the western end went in 1967), leaving archaeological remains of significance. The present Macquarie Street portico dates to these Vernon works of 1898-1900.
The Bridge Street wing was altered and extended for the Premier’s Department in 1916-1919, to the design, as modified, of the then Government Architect George McRae. The Premier’s Department continued to be there until 1967, when the State Office Block was erected.

Thereafter from 1967 until 1982, the Police Department occupied the Bridge Street space created by Lewis and McRae, while the Ministry of Transport had the Macquarie Street sectior, where the Strong Room space had already been filled in during the 1940s. An auditorium for the Conservatorium of Music was constructed on the upper level of Lewis’s building in 1977. Under Police and Transport, the buildings deteriorated, with undesirable changes to the fabric, until they were vacated in 1981. To accommodate a 31-storey hotel on the western part of the site, largely beyond the area protected by the PCO in 1985, conservation works were undertaken between 1981 and 1985.

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
Historically the building group is significant because of its long association with the NSW Treasury and the state treasurer's and premier's offices. It also provides an interesting historical account of the work of a number of the state's Colonial Architects from the mid 19th to the early 20th century.

The site is also an important representative of the conservation and adaptation policies and pressures of 1980s Sydney reflecting a major achievement in contemporary philosophical and practical heritage conservation within the heart of Sydney's CBD. Has historic significance at a State level.
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
The former Treasury Buildings group (within the Intercontinental Hotel complex) is an outstanding example of the state's 19th- early 20th century public buildings and forms part of what is arguably the finest group of these sandstone buildings in NSW. The architectural forms and detailing of the group, with its strong links to Victorian "Neo-Classical" traditions, make it an extremely fine exemplar of this style and reflect important contemporary links with English architectural practice. The facade of Lewis's original building in particular is a premier example in NSW of 19th century "Italian Palazzo" style based closely on a London model. The bold but sympathetically related Vernon additions fronting Macquarie Street are impressively proportioned and detailed and represent an excellent and perhaps unique example of late Victorian eclectic architecture in NSW.

The site's contribution to the significant streetscapes of Macquarie and Bridge Streets is both large and indisputable, with the siting, form, materials and detailing enhancing the adjacent precincts of early buildings. Has aesthetic significance at a State level.
SHR Criteria d)
[Social significance]
The site and its group of early stone buildings remains associated in the popular imagination - by name and historical links - with its early Treasury and state government functions.
SHR Criteria e)
[Research potential]
During 1983 archaeological work uncovered evidence of an 1850s stable block. The site has in the past shown important archaeological resources and both building and site have the potential to provide further information on site use and building development sequences and techniques.
SHR Criteria f)
[Rarity]
The facade of Lewis's original building in particular is a premier example in NSW of 19th century "Italian Palazzo" style based closely on a London model. The bold but sympathetically related Vernon additions fronting Macquarie Street are impressively proportioned and detailed and represent an excellent and perhaps unique example of late Victorian eclectic architecture in NSW. Is rare at a State level.
SHR Criteria g)
[Representativeness]
The former Treasury Buildings group (within the Intercontinental Hotel complex) is an outstanding representative example of the state's 19th- early 20th century public buildings and forms part of what is arguably the finest group of these sandstone buildings in NSW. The architectural forms and detailing of the group, with its strong links to Victorian "Neo-Classical" traditions, make it an extremely fine exemplar of this style and reflect important contemporary links with English architectural practice. Is representative at a State level.
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 significant character of the building's layout and fabric should be maintained by restricting the removal or inappropriate/irreversible alteration of original components. Changes for hotel use requiring subdivision of significant spaces, inappropriate decoration and/or service installation should be avoided, minimized and/or made reversible. Encouragement should be given to the return of major spaces (such as the first floor lobby and associated rooms in the Vernon wing) to a more appropriate configuration, decoration and use. 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 2012I187114 Dec 12   
Heritage study     

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
WrittenAnita Heiss Aboriginal People and Place, Barani: Indigenous History of Sydney City
WrittenClive Lucas Pty Ltd1982The Treasury Building, Macquarie & Bridge Streets, Sydney, NSW, Conservation Analysis, Statement of Cultural Significance…(etc)
WrittenHigginbotham, E.1983Treasury Building - Report on Archaeological Investigations in 1982 and1983

Note: internet links may be to web pages, documents or images.

rez
(Click on thumbnail for full size image and image details)

Data source

The information for this entry comes from the following source:
Name: Local Government
Database number: 2423814


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.

All information and pictures on this page are the copyright of the Heritage Division or respective copyright owners.