"Corporation Building" Including Interior | NSW Environment, Energy and Science

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"Corporation Building" Including Interior

Item details

Name of item: "Corporation Building" Including Interior
Other name/s: Municipal Building
Type of item: Built
Group/Collection: Commercial
Category: Commercial Office/Building
Location: Lat: -33.8815414997419 Long: 151.204685356151
Primary address: 181-187 Hay Street, Haymarket, NSW 2000
Local govt. area: Sydney
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
181-187 Hay StreetHaymarketSydney  Primary Address

Statement of significance:

The Corporation building is within a recognised Heritage Streetscape. The building is of historic, aesthetic and social significance as a rare surviving example of a small scale, flamboyant Federation Anglo-Dutch style building, characterised by intricate brick detailing and stylised design motifs. With the Haymarket Chambers, Capitol Theatre and Palace Hotel it forms a significant historic precinct of Victorian and Edwardian buildings of consistent character and scale, reflecting the period's growth and prosperity in relation to the markets, the railway terminus and nearby large scale retail centres such as Anthony Hordern and Company. With the Capitol Theatre, the Corporation Building is a surviving element of the Belmore Market Precinct and a very fine example of market architecture from the late Victorian period.

The building is an early and important work of the City Architect, George McRae, who designed a number of buildings throughout the city including the Queen Victoria Building.
Date significance updated: 06 Nov 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: George McRae
Builder/Maker: Daniel McInnes
Construction years: 1893-1895
Physical description: The Corporation Building is a rare example of Federation Anglo-Dutch style commercial architecture (pre-dating the Federation period by some years) with its intricate detailing and richly textured facade. Located in the Haymarket area of the City of Sydney, the building has its own distinctive architectural features using colourful terracotta, sandstone and red brick detailing and flamboyant forms and motifs. The external detail is largely intact with openings having been infilled from the 1920's onwards and an awning being replaced in 1935, but the interiors have undergone significant changes with only some elements surviving. The building occupies a corner site, fronting three streets, giving it a visual prominence in the area and the major corner is surmounted by a small round tower with conical roof. It forms a key part of the precinct with the Capitol Theatre and the Haymarket Chambers which reflect Sydney's social and architectural heritage around the turn of the century. Category:Individual Building. Style:Federation Anglo-Dutch. Storeys:2. Facade:Face Brick, sandstone, glazed terracotta tiles (cast iron columns originally carried tower). Side/Rear Walls:Face Brick, ceramic tiling, common brick (rear wall). Internal Walls:Plastered Brick. Roof Cladding:Corrugated Steel Sheeting, oriel domes clad in Muntz tiles, zinc finials. Internal Structure:Loadbearing Brick Walls, Cast Iron columns, Reinforced Concrete and Timber Floors. Floor:Reinf. conc. slabs (new), timber joists & boards. Roof:Timber frame. Ceilings:Suspended plasterboard (ground), ripple iron (first). Stairs:2 reinforced concrete stairs (not original). Lifts:None.
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
The original building was predominantly loadbearing brick and timber construction, but various alterations have changed internal materials with the introduction of reinforced concrete floors, concrete stairs and the removal of dividing walls on the upper level. Internal features of significance include: timber panelled encasement of the early roller shutter, internal detail of the skylight (now concealed), original cast iron columns. The building appears to have been damaged by fire in the 1970's which apparently affected the roof and internal finishes. Intrusive Elements:Post 1970's fitout and alterations generally.
Date condition updated:04 Jan 06
Modifications and dates: 1893-1895; the building was used for market administration and public toilet by City Council; in 2000 the building was renovated and used as a Chinese community centre;
Further information: High Significance:External form and façade, roof form, roof framing, skylights and roof lights. Medium Significance:Surviving internal original features including, cast iron column, roller shutter encasement, 1920's shopfronts. Low Significance:Awning 1935. Was a heritage item in 1989, and has remained so since. Streetscape:The Corporation Building is listed on the Heritage Streetscape Map in the Heritage LEP 2000.

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
Former use: Government Office and Store


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 1892 it was proposed that "the old Corporation stores at the Haymarket is to be removed and give place to a building which will unite in character the markets adjacent." Primarily the new building was to provide "good lavatory accommodation" to cater for increased market activity in the area as well as some small retail outlets and offices. Indications of this combined use are still evident. The building is one of the very few remaining public toilets built in this period.

The contract for the construction of the new building, designed by George McRae, was let on 16 February 1893 to Daniel McInnes. This was around the same time that the construction of the Queen Victoria Building, also by McRae, was commenced. The New Corporation building was completed in 1895. In 1913 the adjacent Belmore markets were converted to the "Hippodrome" (later Capitol Theatre) and the original terracotta features were relocated to the first floor. During the 1920's as the market use ceased, shop fronts were inserted into the openings in the facade of the Corporation building and in 1935 the original awning was replaced with the present structure. The early awning was colonnaded with cast iron supports and was constructed under a separate contract in 1894. Following a fire in 1974 the roof covering was replaced with metal sheeting and since that time numerous alterations have taken place to the interior and exterior including the demolition of the central stairs, the removal of first floor partitions. The corner of the building under the tower was removed and new stairs and concrete floors inserted.

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 Corporation Building is an important early example of Federation Anglo-Dutch style commercial architecture with moulded terracotta work and picturesque roof forms recognised as part of the Belmore Market precinct that relates to the major development of the area for market use. It is an important early work of architect George McRae. Has historic significance locally.
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
Has aesthetic significance at a State level. Cultural:The Corporation Building has high aesthetic significance for its very fine facade design and detailing and the use of unusual design motifs. The major aesthetic significance is the overall intact form of the building and its excellent facade treatment as a rare example of urban Anglo-Dutch style.
SHR Criteria d)
[Social significance]
The Corporation Building, in association with the surrounding Capitol Theatre, Haymarket Chambers and Place Hotel form a heritage precinct of high significance demonstrating late Victorian and Edwardian character and scale related to the intense activity that would have taken place through the market use, the nearby railway terminus and the large scale retail developments such as Anthony Hordern and Company. Has social significance locally.The Corporation Building has high aesthetic significance for its very fine facade design and detailing and the use of unusual design motifs. The major aesthetic significance is the overall intact form of the building and its excellent facade treatment as a rare example of urban Anglo-Dutch style.
SHR Criteria f)
The Corporation Building is a rare surviving small scale urban example of a very finely executed Anglo-Dutch style building. Is rare locally.
SHR Criteria g)
The Corporation Building is representative of the market precinct that existed in the Haymarket and which gave the area its primary character and is one of only two buildings to survive relatively intact (in external form) from that use. The other is the Travellers Rest Hotel in Ultimo Road.
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 building envelope, external form and the overall internal form of the building should be conserved in accordance with the existing conservation plan. Exterior: The three street elevations and roof form of the building should be retained (reinstating the slate roofing when the opportunity arises). The early shopfronts, rear toilet block and facade detail should be retained. Unsympathetic shopfronts should be replaced with shopfronts that either reconstruct original detail or do not detract from the significant exterior fabric of the building. Tiling should be removed from the side elevation and the brickwork restored. The original form of the corner under the tower should be reinstated. The brickwork should be cleaned and conserved as complete face brick building. Intrusive elements including concrete stairs and recent finishes should be removed. The original awning design should be reinstated. Interior: Significant interior elements including cast iron column, original ceilings, early timber floors, pressed metal and ripple iron ceilings, skylights and early finishes, should be retained. Original joinery throughout the building should also be retained. 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 2012I85414 Dec 12   
Heritage study     

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
Written  Sydney City Council, Town Clerk's Report 1892 Conservation Plan, National Trust Listing, Title Deeds, Sands Directory, Historic Records of Sydney Buildings - E Balint
WrittenAnita Heiss Aboriginal People and Place, Barani: Indigenous History of Sydney City
WrittenGodden Mackay Logan2000Heritage Impact Assessment
WrittenGodden Mackay Logan1999Heritage Assessment report
WrittenHoward Tanner1990Heritage Assessment

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: 2424226

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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