Terrace Houses Including Interiors | NSW Environment, Energy and Science

Culture and heritage


Terrace Houses Including Interiors

Item details

Name of item: Terrace Houses Including Interiors
Type of item: Built
Group/Collection: Residential buildings (private)
Category: Terrace
Primary address: 77-79 Macarthur Street, Ultimo, NSW 2007
Local govt. area: Sydney
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
77-79 Macarthur StreetUltimoSydney  Primary Address

Statement of significance:

The building dates from one of the key period of layers for the development of Ultimo/Pyrmont as a direct result of subdivision of the Harris and Macarthur Estates. It is a good example of a late Victorian terrace/commercial building/hotel/church complex which makes a positive contribution to the streetscape.

These late nineteenth century terrace houses are historically important for their association with the development of Ultimo/Pyrmont as a predominantly industrial and warehouse suburb attached to the city, with large areas of terrace housing built and owned by wealthy landlords and let to working class people employed in the area, interspersed with occasional more substantial houses of the local tradespeople and merchants. This developmental phase created the pattern of housing and business throughout the peninsula that remains visible today and produced the particularly close social environment that has characterised the area through the last one hundred years (Criteria A.4 and B.2) (Historic Theme: 4.6 Remembering significant phases in the development of towns and suburbs). The terraces, particularly in the screening seen on their verandahs, reflect well the characteristics of Federation Filigree architectural style (Criterion D.2).
Date significance updated: 12 Apr 13
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.


Construction years: 1880-1880
Physical description: The building is a pair 2 storey Victorian Filigree style terrace houses constructed of rendered brickwork with timber windows and doors and a 2 storey verandah with cast iron filigree detailing. An elaborately detailed parapet with classical motifs and pilasters filigree detailing and urns and semi circular name plate screens a simple skillion corrugated iron form.

These terrace houses are symmetrical around the centre wall, though stepped in height. They are two storey rendered brick dwellings in the Federation Filigree style, featuring cast iron lace verandah balustrades and valances to the upper floor and valances to the lower; as well as the verandah posts there are iron fences to the lower floor. Above the corrugated iron verandah roofs are cornices and then patterned parapets with urns to the building corners. Ground floor windows are triple semi-circular arched with twisted columns as mullions and stucco label moulds. The chimney is corniced and is topped by several pots. Roofs are gabled.
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
In good condition with a high degree of original fabric intact and high potential for restoration.
Date condition updated:15 Mar 05
Further information: 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: Residential
Former use: Residential


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 )

The first land grants were made in 1803 and 1806 to Surgeon John Harris who was granted 34 acres and then constructed and named Ultimo House in 1804. He named it Ultimo (meaning last month) as a result of a clerical error in his charge papers. There were further grants to Harris of 9 and 135 acres in 1806 and another 12 acres in 1818. He moved to his farm at Shanes Park (near St Marys) in 1821 but retained the estate and leased Ultimo House first to Edward Riley and then to Justice Stephen.

Proposed improvements along the first few miles of Parramatta Rd prompted subdivision by Harris along the Parramatta Rd and George Street frontages, and these were developed into houses, shops and public houses over the next 10 years. The remainder of the estate remained largely undeveloped and following Harris’ death in 1838, legal complications prevented further subdivision until 1859. Ultimo was incorporated into the City of Sydney in 1844 and the early 1850’s saw a number of major developments in Pyrmont and also in Ultimo to a lesser extent. Its close proximity to the city’s expanding central business district, Brisbane Distillery port and transport facilities made it an attractive area for housing. In 1853, the Sydney Railway Company resumed 14½ acres of the Ultimo Estate for a railway line to and with a terminus at Darling Harbour. The area was further subdivided in 1860 which established major north/south streets including Pyrmont, Harris, Jones and Wattle Streets although the roads were not fully formed until 1870. The west side of the estate was dominated by quarrying activities and the remainder used for dairying paddocks. Services including water and sewer came to the area in the early 1860’s and gas lighting between 1868 & 1872.

The population doubled during this time, and industry began to establish including Castlemaine Brewery in Quarry Street, Atlas Ironworks, and manufacturer and merchant Samuel Freeman in Harris Street. The early 1880’s saw a boom in housing in the area followed by Goldsborough Mort’s woolstores in 1883 and other substantial warehouse buildings including a large grain and produce store in Allen St, Waite & Bull’s woolstore in 1893, Winchcombe Carson No.1 in 1895 (in Wattle St) and Farmers and Graziers (between Wattle and Jones Sts). In 1892 the Ultimo Technical College opened in Mary Ann St. By the early 1880’s Union Square was established as a commercial centre and by 1900 most residential development had ceased by which time the Pyrmont and Ultimo Power Houses had opened and the new Pyrmont Bridge had been constructed. Most development in the 20th century was commercial and industrial and included additional woolstores, Pyrmont Incinerator (1934) , flour mills (1940) , additional power stations (1955) and the Government Printing Office (1960’s).

The building was constructed c. 1880.

Historic themes

Australian theme (abbrev)New South Wales themeLocal theme
4. Settlement-Building settlements, towns and cities Accommodation-Activities associated with the provision of accommodation, and particular types of accommodation – does not include architectural styles – use the theme of Creative Endeavour for such activities. Residential-

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
The building has historic significance as it dates from the key period of development of Pyrmont/Ultimo and the subdivision of grand estates into residential and commercial development.
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
The building is a prominent element in the streetscape and good example of a Victorian Filigree terrace with elaborate parapet detailing with classic motifs and other typical key elements of the style.
SHR Criteria e)
[Research potential]
The area is not identified in an archaeological zoning plan and the area has been well researched and it is unlikely that the site would reveal further information that would contribute to the significance of the area.
SHR Criteria f)
The building is not rare but is rare in the local area.
SHR Criteria g)
The building is a representative example of a Victorian residential building found in Ultimo/Pyrmont and the inner suburbs of Sydney.
Integrity/Intactness: High
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:

The building should be retained and conserved. A Heritage Assessment and Heritage Impact Statement 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 facade of the building other than to reinstate original features. Any additions and alterations should be confined to the rear in areas of less significance, shall not be visibly prominent and shall be in accordance with the Sydney City Council Development Control 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 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 LEP 2012I204414 Dec 12   
Heritage study     

Study details

TitleYearNumberAuthorInspected byGuidelines used
Pyrmont/Ultimo Heritage Study1990 Anglin Associates  No

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
Written  City of Sydney "Ultimo Pyrmont Conservation Report" (Ranking - 2). Central Sydney Regional Environmental Plan REP26.
WrittenAnita Heiss Aboriginal People and Place, Barani: Indigenous History of Sydney City

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: 2424359

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