Former "National House" Including Interiors | NSW Environment & Heritage

Culture and heritage


Former "National House" Including Interiors

Item details

Name of item: Former "National House" Including Interiors
Type of item: Built
Group/Collection: Commercial
Category: Commercial Office/Building
Location: Lat: -33.8701119328478 Long: 151.20466572915
Primary address: 75 York Street, Sydney, NSW 2000
Local govt. area: Sydney
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
75 York StreetSydneySydney  Primary Address

Statement of significance:

National House is a six storey building of Victorian Italianate style and is one of a group of three buildings, having a similar scale and, character and well-designed Victorian facades, set within a high quality commercial/warehouse streetscape. The building is historically significant as part of the nineteenth-century consolidation of York Street as Sydney's most prestigious warehouse precinct. The building is aesthetically significant as a good example of a highly intact commercial warehouse exterior with fine decorative detailing and for its contribution to the York Street Streetscape. The building is aesthetically significant for its rare elaborate internal cast iron columns.
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: James Alexander Meek
Builder/Maker: Unknown
Construction years: 1892-1892
Physical description: National House has a well-detailed facade retaining original detailing to all levels. The east elevation is symmetrical with a central scrolled broken pedimented entry. Above the door, paired windows occur which are pedimented at the fourth and sixth floor. On the south elevation the facade is asymmetrically with the entry located on the end bay. The 1929 entry to the bank on the corner beneath a projecting bay with three windows remains. All doorways are rusticated. The taller ground floor incorporates a dentilated entablature course which incorporates the door pediment. The windows up to level four are semicircular and flathead windows are found on levels five and six. The parapet is balustered with pediments rising above the York Street and corner entrance. The plan is rectangular with windows to both sides. The interior has been remodelled but the original structural cast iron columns which become progressively more elaborate from level four down to the ground level remain.
Category:Individual Building. Style:Victorian Italianate. Storeys:6. Facade:Plastered brick. Side/Rear Walls:Plastered brick. Internal Walls:Plastered brick, Plasterboard & stud. Roof Cladding:Waterproof membrane, Corrugated metal. Internal Structure:Loadbearing walls and timber beams, Cast iron columns. Floor:Timber joists & boards. Roof:Timber framing. Ceilings:Susp. plasterboard. Stairs:2. Fire Stairs:1. Sprinkler System:Yes. Lifts:None. AirConditioned:Yes
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
In general the building is intact externally and in reasonable condition. Internally the building has been remodelled and no evidence of original finishes exist, with the exception of the cast iron structural columns.
Date condition updated:30 Jan 06
Modifications and dates: 1993
Further information: Low Significance: 1993 Alterations including fitout, new stairs, WC- basement, ground & first floors, remodelling of caretakers quarters.
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: Hotel Restaurant
Former use: Bank


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 1891 a 2-storey brick and stone building licensed as the Bristol Hotel occupied this site. The property was purchased by Sydney investor John Thomas Neale in early 1892. Neale was born in NSW in 1823 and started in business as a butcher and cattle dealer but went on to amass a significant fortune. He was an alderman on City Sydney Council in 1857 and an investor in a number of banks and insurance companies as well as owner of a large amount of real estate. When he died in 1897 he left more than 18,000 pounds to charity. In June 1892 the Australasian Builder & Contractors' News reported that architect Charles Hellmrich was calling tenders for the excavation of the basement of the new building. The building is known, however, to have been the work of Hellmrich's partner, James Alexander Meek. While most of Meek's work was of a domestic nature, he was also responsible for the erection of a number of large warehouses, in particular this warehouse at the corner of King and York Streets. The building was first listed in Sands' Sydney Directories in 1894, as leased to Murray Brothers, tweed and clothing manufacturers, with other tenants including woollen merchants and manufacturers and warehousemen. The building continued to be used as a warehouse and remained in ownership of Neale's descendants until 1920 when it was sold to the National Bank of Australia. It remained the premises of the National Bank for many years.

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]
This is an important building in the nineteenth-century consolidation of York Street as Sydney's most prestigious warehouse precinct. It is also an important building in the professional work of the architect James Alexander Meek. Has historic significance locally.
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
Has aesthetic significance at a State level. The building is rare for its elaborate internal cast iron columns. The building is a good example of a highly intact commercial warehouse exterior with fine decorative detailing. The building is significant for its contribution to the York Street Streetscape.
SHR Criteria f)
The building is rare for its elaborate internal cast iron columns.
SHR Criteria g)
The building is a good example of a highly intact commercial warehouse exterior with fine decorative detailing. The building is significant for its contribution to the York Street Streetscape.
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 overall form of National House should be retained and conserved. A conservation plan should be prepared to guide the future use and maintenance of the place. Surfaces intended for painting such as the facade and timber windows should continue to be painted in appropriate colours. Exterior: All remaining intact fabric on the external facades should be retained and conserved. As the original building has already been added to and is a significant feature within the King and York Street streetscape, the addition of a maximum of two floors may be acceptable. New floors should be stepped back so that they do not impact on the silhouette of the parapet. Any future development should preserve the existing form, external surfaces and materials of the facade. Door and window openings should not be enlarged or closed in. Interior: The original cast iron columns should be retained and conserved. As the interiors have been extensively remodelled and there is little of significance remaining inside the building, further alterations could be carried out, provided such work does not compromise further the facades of the buildings. 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 LEP 2012I1989*14 Dec 12   
Heritage study     

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
Written 1907Cyclopedia of NSW (1907) p.428 entry for Mr James Alexander Meek, p.436 (photo);
Written 1892Australasian Builder & Contractors' News 18.6.1892 p.122;
Written  A Biographical Register 1788-1939 Vol.II p.135: entry for John Thomas Neale;
Written  NSW Land Titles Office: Certificate ofTitle Vol.1011 Fol.96;
Written  Sydney City Council Archives: rate assessment books;
Written  Sands' Sydney Directories
WrittenAnita Heiss Aboriginal People and Place, Barani: Indigenous History of Sydney City

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: 2423864

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