Former "Gresham Hotel" Including Interiors | NSW Environment & Heritage

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Former "Gresham Hotel" Including Interiors

Item details

Name of item: Former "Gresham Hotel" Including Interiors
Other name/s: Hong Kong House, The Gresham Hotel, Central Hotel
Type of item: Built
Group/Collection: Commercial
Category: Bank
Location: Lat: -33.8741898256429 Long: 151.20509900718
Primary address: 80 Druitt Street, Sydney, NSW 2000
Local govt. area: Sydney
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
80 Druitt StreetSydneySydney  Primary Address
147-149 York StreetSydneySydney  Alternate Address

Statement of significance:

Hong Kong House, formerly the Gresham Hotel and Central Hotel, is situated on a prominent site on the corner of York and Druitt Streets forming part of the Town Hall streetscape. It is a five storey building of Victorian Free Classical Style. The erection of this building as a prestigious hotel in the early 1890s is historically significant in understanding the impact that the building of Centennial Hall and the Queen Victoria Building had on creating a focus for civic pride in Victorian Sydney. It is an important building in the professional career of architect Ambrose Thornley. The building has aesthetic significance as a rare intact original exterior of high quality with outstanding potential due to its successive restorations to continue in its restored state. It is particularly noted for its use of ornate stone decoration. The building is significant for its contribution as a component of the Town Hall Precinct Streetscape.
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.

Description

Designer/Maker: Ambrose Thornley
Builder/Maker: Edward Johnson
Construction years: 1894-1894
Physical description: The five storey Victorian Free Classical façade features decorative sandstone trim contrasting with the red face brickwork, glazed terracotta tiles. The facade distinguishes its former use as a banking chamber and evidence of the original signage is visible. The Druitt St facade features four bays marked by two pedimented parapets and two bays at wider spacings. The York St facade has three bays marked by a central pedimented parapet with a single bay forming part of the corner massing. All bays are marked by paired windows, which are semicircular with elaborate sandstone voussoirs at the ground floor. Bay windows occur to both facades over three levels. The basement is rusticated. The original entrance to the hotel was on the corner framed by elaborate red and grey granite columns with foliated capitals which support a balconette and turreted pediment above. Internally the plan is rectangular with a splayed corner to Druitt Street and has been extensively renovated with floor levels changed. Side/Rear Walls:Face brick, Sandstone, Glazed terracotta tiles. Internal Walls:Rendered brick. Roof Cladding:Waterproof membrane. Internal Structure:Reinf. conc. column and beam. Floor:Reinf. conc. slab. Roof:Reinf. conc. slab. Ceilings:Decorative plaster, Susp. plasterboard.
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
In general the building is intact externally and in reasonable condition with minor repair work required to the stone and mortar. Internally the building has been remodelled and only remnants of original finishes exist..
Date condition updated:01 Dec 05
Modifications and dates: AirConditioned:Yes; Stairs:1. Fire Stairs:2. Sprinkler System:Yes. Lifts:2.
Further information: High Significance:All the intact original fabric of the south and east façade in particular the ornate decoration. Low Significance:All the intact original fabric of the interior in particular the timber stair.

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: Offices, Retail
Former use: Bank, Hotel

History

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 )

In 1888 the Excelsior Land, Building and Investment Co and Bank Ltd held a competition for the design of a hotel and banking premises on this corner of York and Druitt Streets. Twenty-six designs were submitted and the competition was won by architect Ambrose Thornley. His final drawings are dated June 1890 and labelled "Central Hotel". In September 1890 the Australasian Builder and Contractors' News carried an illustration of Thornley's design and a description of the building which was then in course of erection. The magazine explained that the materials used in the building were double-pressed red bricks, with freestone dressings. The central feature of the design was the entrance to the hotel at the corner, "divided up by red granite columns with bronze foliated caps and bases", with massive consoles springing from these "supporting a balconette with balustrades in panels". The hotel was designed to occupy the whole of the Druitt St frontage and the upper part of the York Street front. The banking premises were to consist of a ground floor banking chamber and a board room above, fronting York Street. The York Street facade incorporated different architectural elements to denote the presence of the banking chamber without making any material alteration in the general front. The Australasian Builder and Contractors' News thought that the new hotel was located on a site which was "fast growing into one of the best positions in the city" and that it would be when completed "one of the best hotels in the city." The second stage of the Sydney Town Hall, called the Centennial Hall, was under construction when the Excelsior land and Building Company held its design competition and plans to re-build the City Council's Queen Victoria Markets were already being considered.

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 erection of this building as a prestigious hotel in the early 1890s makes an important contribution to understanding the impact that the building of Centennial Hall and the Queen Victoria Building had on creating a focus for civic pride in Victorian Sydney. It is an important building in the professional career of architect Ambrose Thornley. Has historic significance at a State level.
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
Has aesthetic significance at a State level.The building has a rare intact original exterior of high quality design with outstanding potential due to its successive restorations to continue in its restored state. It is particularly noted for its use of ornate stone decoration. The building is significant for its contribution as a component of the Town Hall Precinct Streetscape.
SHR Criteria f)
[Rarity]
It is an important building in the professional work of the architect Ambrose Thornley. The building has a rare intact original exterior of high quality design with outstanding potential, due to its successive restorations, to continue in its restored state.
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 the Gresham Hotel should be retained and conserved. A conservation plan should be prepared to guide the future use and maintenance of the place. Finishes never intended for painting, such as the face brick, sandstone trim and granite columns should continue to be appropriately maintained. Surfaces intended for painting should continue to be painted in appropriate colours. Exterior: All remaining intact fabric on the external facades such as the face brick, sandstone trim and granite columns should be retained and conserved. As the original building is a significant feature within the streetscape and an important component of the Town Hall Precinct there should be no vertical extension. 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: As the interiors have been extensively remodelled and there is little of significance remaining inside the building, further alterations may be acceptable, provided any future internal 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 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.

Listings

Heritage ListingListing TitleListing NumberGazette DateGazette NumberGazette Page
Local Environmental PlanSydney LEP 2012I173514 Dec 12   
Heritage study     

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
Written 1981Architecture Australia July 1981 pp.60-63;
Written 1890Australasian Builder and Contractors' News 6.9.1890 p.162
Written 1889Australasian Builder and Contractors' News26.1.1889 p.93;
Written  AONSW Plans nos.63216-63220;
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: 2424071


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