Former "Gardiner House" Including Interiors | NSW Environment, Energy and Science

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Former "Gardiner House" Including Interiors

Item details

Name of item: Former "Gardiner House" Including Interiors
Other name/s: Company Director House, Charles Parsons & Co, Sargood Gardiner Limited
Type of item: Built
Group/Collection: Commercial
Category: Commercial Office/Building
Location: Lat: -33.8698536185771 Long: 151.204539177926
Primary address: 71 York Street, Sydney, NSW 2000
Local govt. area: Sydney
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
71 York StreetSydneySydney  Primary Address

Statement of significance:

Company Director House has historic significance as a rare surviving example (with Clarence House, 104-112 Clarence Street) of a pattern of warehouse development involving buildings on parallel streets served by a common rear lane or courtyard. It is one of about three such groups remaining, the best example being the Letraset House group. The conversion of the basement for car parking provides historically significant physical evidence of the increasing level of motor car use at the time. The building has historic and scientific significance as one of only about half a dozen former warehouses with surviving cast iron column structures (others include 2-6 Barrack Street, 104-112 Clarence Street, 22-26 York Street and the Letraset House group in Kent and Clarence Streets), and one of a small and diminishing number of Victorian commercial buildings which retain most of their original facade at street level. It has aesthetic significance deriving from the high degree of intactness on all floors of the stone facade and cast iron and timber structure, and details such as the restaurant foyer with its fine traditional doors, pressed metal ceiling and timber panelled joinery. The building also forms part of a streetscape between King and Barrack Streets which retains many other fine 19th and early 20th century buildings.
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: Unknown
Builder/Maker: Unknown
Construction years: 1880-1880
Physical description: This five storey building has a sandstone facade heavily modelled with fluted and incised pilasters extending over two storeys, and a balustraded parapet with corbelled pediments at either end. The building is strikingly similar to that at 104-112 Clarence Street, and was probably built at the same time to share a common rear yard. The original entrance has a projecting pediment supported on brackets; further to the north the facade has been modified to form a second entrance (evidently constructed in the Interwar period, with a typical bundled staves decoration), and in more recent times at the northern end to allow vehicular access to the basement. Internally, the main feature is the decorative cast iron columns; elsewhere, original surfaces are mostly concealed by later finishes. Category:Individual Building. Style:Victorian Free Classical. Storeys:5 + 2 basements. Facade:Sandstone, alumin. frame windows. Side/Rear Walls:Face brick. Internal Walls:Plasterbd. & stud. Roof Cladding:Not inspected; presumably corrugated steel sheet. Internal Structure:Cast iron posts & timber beams. Floor:Timber joists & boards. Roof:Timber & iron king post trusses on timber posts. Ceilings:Timber boards under roof, susp. acoustic tile elsewhere. Stairs:Timber stair, enclosed. Fire Stairs:External steel stair at rear; also refer Stairs above. Sprinkler System:Yes. Lifts:2 modern, and 1 goods lift with guillotine doors. AirConditioned:Yes FireStairs:External steel stair at rear; also refer Stairs above
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
Similarities between this building and Clarence House include facade decorative details and design of internal cast iron column capitals, although this building has a stone as opposed to a painted stucco facade. External cast iron grilles to basement. Balcony behind parapet is a later alteration. The building is generally in good condition. Basement alterations for car parking have revealed construction details at column heads. The original main entrance, now serving a restaurant, has an elaborate panelled timber lining and fibrous plaster ceiling. The development pattern of two warehouses on parallel streets with a yard between is similar to the Letraset House group (inventory items 4010, 4011 and 4045), and the Guild House group (items 4043 and 4008).
Date condition updated:30 Jan 06
Modifications and dates: 1880
Further information: High Significance:Sandstone facade including 1930s adaptation for main entrance, cast iron & timber floor & roof structures, early joinery and finishes in restaurant entrance, cast iron grilles to basement. Low Significance:Aluminium windows, entrance to car park. Comments:Applied for award of HFS in 1999. Conservation works carried ou in 200/2001. HFS award registered on title in June 2001. Works included reconstruction of two pavement lights to York Street; conservation of stone façade; removal of intrusive street doors and replacement with timber; interpretation panels in foyer + brochures for tenants and visitors.

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, restaurant (ground floor), parking (basement)
Former use: 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 )

The land on which Company Director House stands was part of a grant to John Terry Hughes and Henry Ludwig Miller in 1839. The primary application shows an agreement dated 1885 between William Gardiner and his neighbour concerning a party wall. This could imply that the building was constructed about that time. The firm of Sargood Gardiner Limited is listed on the earliest title (1931) as the owner of the site, and continued to own it until at least the 1940s. In 1932, architects Scott Green & Scott converted the basement areas to a garage, installing ramps and roller shutters. They may also have been responsible for the surround to the present main entrance which is of 1930s style. The building was last upgraded in 1984, at which time the aluminium windows were installed.

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's stone facade and cast iron and timber structure retain a high degree of intactness on all floors. The conversion of the basement for car parking reflects the increasing level of motor car use at the time.
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
Research potential exists to establish the likely link between this building and Clarence House as a complex similar to the Letraset House group Cultural:A substantial and elaborately detailed stone facade retaining much of its original character and detail. Part of a streetscape between King and Barrack Streets which retains many other fine 19th and early 20th century buildings. The restaurant foyer has fine traditional doors, pressed metal ceiling and timber panelled joinery which appear early.
SHR Criteria f)
One of only six former warehouses with surviving cast iron column structures, and one of a small and diminishing number of Victorian commercial buildings which retain most of their original facade at street 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:

General: The surviving significant fabric of Company Director House, including the sandstone facade and original structure, should be conserved. The building is capable of being added to without serious adverse effect on its significance, and the addition of a maximum of two floors to the facade could be contemplated, provided that the original structure is not damaged, the existing stone parapet is reused at the top and the new levels are detailed so as to echo the modelling, depth and detailing of the existing facade. Surfaces never intended for painting, notably face brickwork and sandstone, should remain unpainted, while surfaces such as stucco and timber which were originally painted should continue to be painted in appropriate colours. Exterior: The sandstone facade should be conserved with only minor adaptations in future. Early adaptations, particularly the 1930s facade alterations, should also be conserved where they are of architectural quality; elsewhere, they could be adapted if circumstances require. Two pavement lights to York Street reconstructed for HFS award - however, do not function in allowing light to basement (owing to basement now being a carpark). Interior: The building is capable of further internal adaptive reuse and alteration, provided that surviving significant fabric (mainly the cast iron and timber floor and roof structures) remains undamaged. Consideration should be given in future to displaying more of the original structure on upper floors, to aid interpretation. Interior works carried out in 2000/ 2001 for HFS award: included removal of intrusive entrance doors and foyer details. Removal of false ceiling in ground floor tenancy to reveal column capitals. Interpretation panel in foyer + brochures for tenants and visitors. 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 Local Environmental Plan 2012I1987*14 Dec 12   
Heritage study     

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
Written  Council building application records
Written  Land Title: CT Vol 4493 Fol 64
Written  National Trust listing card
WrittenAnita Heiss Aboriginal People and Place, Barani: Indigenous History of Sydney City
WrittenGraham Brooks & Associates2001Company Director House, 71 York Street, Sydney : conservation plan

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

(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: 2423862

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