Former Warehouse "John Frazer & Co" Including Interiors | NSW Environment, Energy and Science

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Former Warehouse "John Frazer & Co" Including Interiors

Item details

Name of item: Former Warehouse "John Frazer & Co" Including Interiors
Other name/s: St George Bank, Arthur Cocks & Co. Ltd Building, Kent Hi Fi Store
Type of item: Built
Group/Collection: Commercial
Category: Warehouse/storage area
Location: Lat: -33.8691404374102 Long: 151.204513795438
Primary address: 63 York Street, Sydney, NSW 2000
Local govt. area: Sydney
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
63 York StreetSydneySydney  Primary Address

Statement of significance:

63 York Street is one of few surviving mid-Victorian period warehouses. It is one of the forerunners of a building type that was to dominate the western edge of the CBD in proximity to Darling Harbour. It is considered to be of regional significance as one of few surviving storage buildings of the 1860s or earlier that once supplied the city area. Its conversion to retail/office space during the twentieth century reflects changing commercial patterns in the city and York Street in particular.

63 York Street is the work of George Allen Mansfield, one of Sydney's most prominent architects during the latter half of the 19th century. The building is an excellent example of an essentially Classical style warehouse modelled on the Italian Palazzo with a combination of details including mainly Romanesque devices, a gold leaf Egyptian inspired frieze and 'barley sugar' twisted columns. On an important corner it contributes strongly to a significant historic townscape, terminated by the west facade of the GPO.
Date significance updated: 30 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.


Designer/Maker: G A. Mansfield (1866)
Builder/Maker: Alex Dean
Construction years: 1866-1866
Physical description: Located at the intersection of York and Barrack Streets, the original sandstone building is four storeys high combining Classical decorative elements with Romanesque features applied to an Italian Palazzo form. The ground floor has flat head arched openings with vermiculated ashlar surrounds and carved keystones. The corner is defined by a slender Corinthian column. An elaborate entablature, incorporating a gold leaf Egyptian frieze, separates the first floor from street level. In contrast, levels 1, 2, and 3 have smooth wall surfaces. The windows to levels 1 and 2 are arched while those to level 3 have a squared head detail. The windows are alternatively single and grouped in three. The corner of the levels 1, 2 and 3 is defined by a "barley sugar" twisted column. The lower four levels are crowned by a deep cornice. Two floors were added above the cornice in the 1936. The upper two levels are rendered masonry with steel framed windows that interpret the window pattern of level 4 below. The once renowned internal cast iron columns have been encased. The upper levels have been fitted out for office use. Category:Individual building. Style:Victorian Free Classical, Romanesque & Egyptian influences in decoration. Storeys:4 (2 stories added 1936) + basement. Facade:Sandstone, gold gilted frieze, rendered masonry, timber windows. Side/Rear Walls:Painted brickwork (rear-original opening has been bricked up). Internal Walls:Plasterbd. & glass stud walls, plastered masonry. Roof Cladding:Unable to access. Internal Structure:Wrought iron beams, encased cast iron columns (GL),hardwood frame (upper floors)-Ref: Emery Balint. Floor:Reinf. conc, tiles, timber, carpet (generally). Roof:Hardwood Queen-post trusses- Ref: Emery Balint. Ceilings:Plasterbd ceiling & cornice, susp. ceiling. Stairs:Reinf. conc, tiles, steel handrail. Fire Stairs:1 (1970's construction). Sprinkler System:Yes. Lifts:2, new fit out. AirConditioned:Yes
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
In general, the former John Frazer & Co Warehouse building has intact external facades however the interiors have been modified. Built in two distinct phases, the original four storey 1880's sandstone building is defined by Romanesque style decorative elements while the 1930's addition is planar with simple rectangular openings. The ground floor is accentuated by arched windows with vermiculated ashlar surrounds. Intrusive Elements:Top two floors, signs, awnings to ground floor, encasement of internal columns.
Date condition updated:30 Jan 06
Modifications and dates: 1866, 1936 (additional 2 floors)
Further information: High Significance:Overall form and scale of first four floors, sandstone facades including all carved decoration such as the deep cornice, timber windows, entry doors and internal column structure. Low Significance:Internal alterations.
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: Bank, offices
Former use: Offices, warehouse


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 )

This building (which originally included 61 York Street) was designed by G.A. Mansfield and was built by Alex Dean for John Frazer & Co. as a warehouse for the company. The work was carried out in 1866 on the site of a warehouse previously destroyed by fire. There are few recorded works on the building prior to the addition of two new storeys in 1936. Thereafter, until 1974, the most significant changes to the building involved the addition of partitions and the construction of a strong room in the basement in 1941. In 1974 alterations and additions were initiated to the value of $400 000. In 1983/84 a major refurbishment was made on the ground floor entrance and the five upper floors. The basement was fitted out for a hair salon. In 1985 a major programme of construction commenced, principally the introduction of partitions, to accommodate a new tenant Kent Hi-Fi. In 1993 another extensive tenancy fit-out was carried out to accommodate a bank.

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 St George Bank at 63 York Street occupies a building which records the pattern of commercial development in the CBD from the mid 19th century. In particular it reflects the predominance of this area for warehousing. Despite adaptations it still reflects its origin as a warehouse. It is associated with the prominent architect G A. Mansfield. Changes to the building illustrate changing commercial needs of the city. Has historic significance locally.
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
The St George Bank Building is an excellent example of mid-Victorian commercial architecture. Essentially Romanesque in treatment, its palazzo form is also embellished by some Egyptian inspired features. It is a strong contributor to the townscape character of Barrack Street although the 1936 addition detracts from the appreciation of its form.
SHR Criteria f)
The St George Bank Building is one of few surviving intact mid-Victorian period warehouses in the western sector of the CBD. It is an excellent example of an essentially Romanesque style building modelled on the Italian Palazzo with a gold Egyptian inspired frieze at first floor level.
SHR Criteria g)
The former John Frazer & Co. warehouse is associated with the work of G A. Mansfield.
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: The regional significance of 63 York Street warrants a Conservation Plan to guide future use, management and maintenance. Demolition of the top two floors or redesign in a more compatible manner would be appropriate. Exterior: Any future development should preserve the external facades up to the fourth floor cornice, including all sandstone elements and timber windows in accordance with the Conservation Plan. Interior: Given the level of change to the interiors, adaptive re-use in accordance with the Conservation Plan is acceptable provided a detailed examination of original internal structural elements, finishes and details is carried out to determine the possibility of retention and restoration of interior characteristics in new works programmes. 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 fa├žade 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 2012I1984*14 Dec 12   
Heritage study     

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
Written  Sydney City Council: BA's & DA's
WrittenAnita Heiss Aboriginal People and Place, Barani: Indigenous History of Sydney City
WrittenClive Lucas Stapleton & Partners 63 York Street, Sydney : statement of heritage impact
WrittenEmery Balint1984Historic Record of Sydney City Buildings A Review of Historic Commercial Building Construction in the Victorian Era.

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: 2423860

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.

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