Former "Manchester Unity" Building Including Interiors | NSW Environment & Heritage

Culture and heritage


Former "Manchester Unity" Building Including Interiors

Item details

Name of item: Former "Manchester Unity" Building Including Interiors
Other name/s: Mirvac Trust Building, St. James Trust Building
Type of item: Built
Group/Collection: Commercial
Category: Commercial Office/Building
Location: Lat: -33.8739644764835 Long: 151.208465459399
Primary address: 183-187 Elizabeth Street, Sydney, NSW 2000
Local govt. area: Sydney
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
183-187 Elizabeth StreetSydneySydney  Primary Address

Statement of significance:

The building is part of an ongoing tradition of centralised commercial, professional and financial dealings in CBD. The choice and use of the site reflects pre-eminence of the portion of the city for professional and financial institutions on the prestige location adjacent to the park. An excellent example of Inter-war Commercial Palazzo style, the facade features projecting balconies and a deep cornice. Although common for the period, this building is an exemplar for its use of proportion and balance with fine detailing of west four floors and top three floors. It is an important contributor to townscape character of Elizabeth Street and Hyde Park Precinct.
Date significance updated: 17 Nov 11
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: John P. Tate & Young, A. W. Morrison(Engineer)
Builder/Maker: Beat Bros.
Construction years: 1923-1923
Physical description: The building is located between Elizabeth and Castlereagh Streets. It is an assertive eleven storey sandstone Commercial Palazzo building. The design utilises a classical language with elements of variety and surprise. The classical portico set behind two storey high fluted sandstone columns with entablature above, forms an impressive entrance. The entrance combined with relief frieze and balcony forms a well moulded base element. By comparison, the mid-section is simplified. Utilising flat surfaces the top section is embellished by false balconies and relief friezes. Fluted pilasters support the heavily detailed entablature which crowns the facade. A 1980s single storey aluminium and glass structure is set back from the entablature at the top of the building. The interiors have generally been refurbished with modern surfaces including plasterboard and marble on the upper levels. Original classical details remain in the newly refurbished board room suite. The plastered ceiling is coffered and incorporates elaborate plaster ceiling roses. Deep carved brackets are located at the junction of the ceiling and walls, central to full height arched windows that dominate the grand space. Category:Individual building. Style:Inter-War Commercial Palazzo. Storeys:11 + basement. Facade:Sandstone cladding, timber framed windows, steel framed windows (upper levels). Side/Rear Walls:Face brick, rendered masonry. Internal Walls:Plastered brick, plasterbd. and stud. Roof Cladding:Waterproof membrane, conc. paving units. Internal Structure:Reinf. conc. column and beam. Floor:Reinf. conc. slab, marble, carpet. Roof:Access not possible. Ceilings:Decorative plaster, cornices reproduction of Victorian style, dining room original.. Stairs:Reinf. conc. slab, marble treads (in part), stainless steel handrail.. Fire Stairs:2. Sprinkler System:Yes. Lifts:4.
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
Both sandstone facades to Elizabeth and Castlereagh Streets have been immaculately preserved. The internal structure and spatial quality of the Mirvac Trust Building remain substantially intact with the ground level dining room restored to emulate the original 1923 design.. AirConditioned:Yes FireStairs:2
Date condition updated:07 Dec 05
Modifications and dates: 1923
Further information: High Significance:Overall building form, fabric and detail of external envelope, especially sandstone facing and detailing of colonnade, balconies and cornice, restored interior spaces including the board room. Medium Significance:Reinforced concrete frame and floor construction. Low Significance:Fitouts for office spaces. Was a 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: Retail, commercial offices
Former use: 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 )

The building was commissioned as the Headquarters of the Manchester Unity of Oddfellows, a society founded on Masonic principles that acted as an insurance company for its members. The building was designed by J P Tate and Young with some input by Emil Sodersten prior to him setting up his own practice. It was constructed by Beat Bros. The society occupied the first floor and maintained a conference room on the ground floor. The remainder of the ground floor was let to financial institutions. All the floors above were leased as investment properties. The basement housed the services and plant. The design of the building was intended to be temple-like in appearance, thereby creating a reminder of the owners. Immediately after its construction a shelter shed was erected on the roof (1925) and between 1938 and 1958 various additions and alterations were made including those to awnings and doors. In 1959 alterations were made to the basement and ground floor. The most substantial changes occurred in 1982 when the basement and ground floor were renovated for Mirvac Pty Ltd. Some additions to the roof were made at that time to provide new office space. Partitions were added on several floors. Between 1983 and 1985 the building was fitted out for new tenancies.

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 Mirvac Trust Building is part of an ongoing tradition of centralised commercial, professional and financial dealings in the CBD. The choice and use of the site reflects pre-eminence of the portion of the city for professional and financial services, and the growth of Elizabeth Street as a prestige location bordering the park.. The investment nature of the building reflects value of CBD property.
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
Cultural:The Mirvac Trust Building is an excellent example of the Inter-war Commercial Palazzo style making an important contribution to the townscape character of the Hyde Park precinct. Well proportioned, restrained facades are given interest by an entry colonnade, projecting balconies and a deep cornice.
SHR Criteria f)
The Mirvac Trust Building is one of the best examples, and most imposing in scale, of the commercial Palazzo style in the CBD. The scale relates well in proportion to the space of Elizabeth Street and Hyde Park beyond, and in relation to its distinguished neighbours.
SHR Criteria g)
The Mirvac Trust Building is representative of styles derived from the classical idiom used by "respectable" organisations in the inter-war period.
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 existing conservation plan should be updated as necessary prior to any major changes to the place. The external form and scale of the building should be preserved. Exterior: Any future development should preserve the fabric and detail of external envelope including stone facing and detailing. Interior: Recently restored interiors including the board room suite should be preserved in accordance with the Conservation Plan. Any future refurbishment and refitting should be in accordance with the Conservation Plan. 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 2012I174814 Dec 12   
Heritage study     

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
Written  Building, p56ff, 12 May 1921, (Journal). Mitchell Library Small Picture File. Howard Tanner,' Architects of Australia', p121, 1981, (Text).
Written  SCC Records (Das, Bas)
WrittenAnita Heiss Aboriginal People and Place, Barani: Indigenous History of Sydney City
WrittenBrian McDonald & Associates1997 St. James Trust Building, 185 Elizabeth Street Sydney : conservation plan St. James Trust Building, 185 Elizabeth 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: 2424002

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.