Terrace House Including Interior | NSW Environment, Energy and Science

Culture and heritage


Terrace House Including Interior

Item details

Name of item: Terrace House Including Interior
Other name/s: Eric Flats
Type of item: Built
Group/Collection: Residential buildings (private)
Category: Terrace
Location: Lat: -33.8656400775735 Long: 151.210378399168
Primary address: 43 Phillip Street, Sydney, NSW 2000
Local govt. area: Sydney
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
43 Phillip StreetSydneySydney  Primary Address

Statement of significance:

43 Philip Street is part of rare surviving group of mid to late Victorian residential terraces in the center of the city. Though extensively altered and having lost important original fabric, the basic early form and streetscape presentation of the terrace remains and it provides an example of the more widespread scale and architectural character of the city in the 19th century which has all but disappeared. The building also has important associations with both its original owner and architect William Munroe and a rich and complex history of changing use and owners. The building's changes of fortune from substantial residence and fashionable to office premises through to the degraded form and inappropriate alterations of the second half of the 20th century and subsequent 1980s refurbishment reflects the changing fortunes of both the city and its sites of cultural significance.

The terrace is also significant through its association with the site of the first Government House, being part of the first period of development of this site.
Date significance updated: 01 Mar 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.


Designer/Maker: William Munro
Construction years: 1867-1869
Physical description: A 3 storey terrace (with additional basement and attic levels) dating to 1867-9 in a simple Victorian Italianate style overlaid with early 20th century bay windows at first and second floor levels. The external walls are of rendered ruled to resemble ashlar masonry above a stone-walled basement. The remnant Victorian detailing comprises rendered architraves around the windows and front door at ground floor level and rendered mouldings around the chimney on the north parapet. The projecting bays at first and second floor levels have timber double-hung windows and pressed metal skirts with simple Art Nouveau decoration. The main roof is finished with slate. At the rear is attached an early 20th century 4 storey service wing with painted brick walls, corrug. iron roof and timber joinery containing kitchen & bathroom facilities.

The residences are built over part of Sydney's first government house site. Category:Individual Building. Style:Victorian Italianate, additions Federation Arts & Crafts. Storeys:Main building: 3 storeys + basement + attic. Rear wing: 4 storeys. Facade:Rendered masonry, decorative panels, timber frame windows. Side/Rear Walls:Rendered masonry, face brick, sandstone. Internal Walls:Plastered brick. Roof Cladding:Slate tile. Internal Structure:Load bearing masonry / brick walls + stone basement; plaster finish. Floor:Timber floor framing & boarded finish; tiled entry hall. Roof:Timber framing. Ceilings:Plaster (in situ) and plasterboard; generally reproduction cornices. Stairs:Main stair from ground to 2nd floor + narrower stair to basement; both traditional timber framed stairs with turned balusters, handrail and newel.. Fire Stairs:No. Lifts:No. General Details:Refer to Archaeological Zoning Plan.
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
Intrusive Elements:Removal of plaster finish from internal stone walls to basement. Some modern services.
Modifications and dates: 1867-1869
Further information: High Significance:Overall form and massing of the terrace and presentation to Phillip Street. Remnant original/early fabric and features including hybrid elements of front elevation (ie. Italianate detailing to ground floor & later bay windows above). General layout and remaining original/early fabric of main rooms, particularly to ground and first floors (including sliding doors). Medium Significance:Rear service wing and rear elevation generally. Secondary spaces of original buildings which retain original layout and some features and fabric (including early 20th century features and fabric such as pressed metal ceilings, rear kitchen fitout/tiles to fireplaces, etc). Low Significance:Components and fabric introduced as part of the 1987-88 alterations/refurbishment including reproduction elements (joinery, fireplaces, ceilings and cornices, tiled floor to entry hall, etc).

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: Commercial offices
Former use: Residential (original single, later multi-residential); commercial offices


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 five houses built at 39-47 Phillip Street in 1867-9 occupy part of First Government House’s grounds, with evidence of the governor’s stables at the rear of no.39. This area, vacated after the demolition of First Government House in 1845-6, lay derelict until the 1860s. Sydney Council finally made residential lots available in 1861. The first sale was in that year, when the site of no.43 was sold to William Munro.

Munro was a Scottish builder who had come to NSW in 1839, made a reputation working with Edmund Blacket and established himself as an independent architect, not least with the Catholic diocese, for whom he had worked on St Mary’s Cathedral in the 1850s and the Presbyterians, for whom he later built St Andrew’s College in the University of Sydney in 1874-6.

In 1867-8 Munro finally built on his Phillip Street allotment. The house was always seen as an investment and was leased consistently by Munro and, after his death in 1881, by his daughter Mrs Gibbs. It left the Gibbs family only in 1943, when it returned to crown ownership.

Tenants of no.43 were numerous. They include the Government Railways (1891), Rabbi Davis of the Great Synagogue (1868-71), Alfred de Lissa, a company lawyer, auditor to the Great Synagogue (1871-7) and a music-teacher called Kellermann (1895-1900).

Around World War I the house was substantially renovated.

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
This house belongs to the first period of development of the former site of First Government House and its grounds. Built primarily as an investment and occupied exclusively by tenants, its prime position attracted a government agency and two prominent members of the Great Synagogue. The architect and original owner William Munro has local significance as a successful middle-rank designer, with particular associations with religious organisations. Has historic significance at a State level.
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
Has aesthetic significance at a State level. Has aesthetic significance locally. Cultural:No. 43 Phillip Street provides a rare surviving example of mid-late Victorian terraces in the center of the city and the strong contrast of its scale and form to the modern cityscape provides a vivid reminder of this. Located in a group which comprises a number of differently detailed terraces of similar scale and form - all fronting Phillip Street - No. 43 is provided with an aesthetically and historically important setting which enhances its role in providing evidence of once more numerous 19th century city terraces. Though somewhat compromised by the loss of original fabric and more recent refurbishment, the terrace remains important architecturally as a representative example of the city's 19th century "grand gentleman's residences", given additional interest by its unusual hybrid character combining mid 19th and early 20 century decorative influences.
SHR Criteria f)
The terrace and the group of which it is part is a rare surviving example within the city of mid-late 19th century residential/commercial terrace development.
SHR Criteria g)
Example of mid-late 19th century Victorian Italianate terrace architectural layout and detailing overlaid with early 20th century Art Nouveau elements and detailing (externally and internally).
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:

Further documentary and physical investigation of the details of original features and fabric should guide future upgrading programs to more accurately reflect the original (externally and internally). Exposed internal masonry walls (eg. stone walls to the basement) should be plastered with traditional render as originally. 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 2012I190814 Dec 12   
Heritage study     

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
WrittenAnita Heiss Aboriginal People and Place, Barani: Indigenous History of Sydney City
WrittenJackson Teece Chesterman Willis and Partners Pty Ltd1985Conservation Guidelines for Five Terrace Buildings, 39 to 47 Phillip 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: 2423833

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