Glebe Town Hall Including Interior Fence and Grounds | NSW Environment & Heritage

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Glebe Town Hall Including Interior Fence and Grounds

Item details

Name of item: Glebe Town Hall Including Interior Fence and Grounds
Type of item: Built
Group/Collection: Community Facilities
Category: Hall Town Hall
Primary address: 160 St Johns Road, Glebe, NSW 2037
Local govt. area: Sydney
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
160 St Johns RoadGlebeSydney  Primary Address

Statement of significance:

The Glebe Town Hall is an item of state significance that is situated on a prominent site on the corner of St. Johns Road and Vernon and Lodge Streets, Glebe. It forms an important landmark in the area for the local community.

This building has aesthetic significance at a State level as a fine example of a largely intact building in the Victorian Free Classical style of architecture. Many of the building’s features are characteristic of this architectural style and of the civic buildings of this period.

The success of the building was a reflection of the emerging and complex nature of Victorian society, and the changing needs of a more prosperous society. The Glebe Town was designed as one of the grand town halls of Sydney with richly decorated interiors, and the installed with of the modern facilities.
The Glebe Town Hall has a strong association with a number of significant people. Since its formation in 1859 the Glebe Council had been the domain of local professionals and businessmen. Between 1859 and 1875 the early Glebe Aldermen consisted of men such as the solicitor George Wigram Allen, Mayor for 18 consecutive terms from 1859 to 1877, the architects Edmund Blacket and George Allen Mansfield, surveyor Thomas Harwood, chemist William Pinhey, retail trader Michael Chapman, and the future State Premier George Dibbs.

Several aldermen of the Glebe Council went on to became members of the Legislative Assembly, and included men such as George Wigram Allen, William Redman, George Dibbs and Michael Chapman.
The Glebe Town Hall also has strong associations with the Glebe branch of the Labour Party with early meeting of the Glebe Branch of the L.E.L. were held at the Glebe Town Hall. By 1925 the Glebe Council was controlled by Labor representatives with 11 Labor Aldermen elected to council, and Bill Walsh became Glebe’s first Labour Mayor.

Another important member of the Glebe Council was Dr. H. J. Foley, a medical practitioner and social reformer. Dr. Foley became a member of the Glebe Council in 1934 and Mayor of Glebe in 1938.
The building is significant as a major component of the Glebe Conservation Area. At the time that Glebe Town Hall was built, the area was developing an increasing sense of civic pride. The Glebe Town Hall has continued to provide a strong sense of place within the local community and to provide a centre for the social and cultural life of the area, and to function as a popular venue for entertainment, social events and fundraising functions.

The building has social significance for its original association with the Glebe Municipal Council, and involvement with the government functions and development of the suburb of Glebe since the late 19th Century. It is representative as the seat of local metropolitan government for Glebe Municipality, the fourth municipality to be incorporated under The Municipalities Act of 1858.
Date significance updated: 24 Mar 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 Junior
Builder/Maker: Messrs. Sanbrook and Sons
Construction years: 1880-1891
Physical description: Council Chambers - construction years 1880 and 1890-1891
Glebe Town Hall is located approximately 2.5km south west of the city on a prominent street corner fronting St. Johns’ Road, Mt. Vernon and Lodge Streets. Surrounding development consists of older style semi-detached and terrace houses on small lots. There is a small commercial area located nearby in St. Johns Road.

Exterior:
All original parts of the 1880s and 1890s additions stuccoed masonry walls including building base at street level of coursed, rock-faced sandstone. The basement design of rusticated masonry and corner quoins is carried up to ground level. The central bay of the front façade contains the principal entry porch and features Corinthian columns with detailed sgraffito work, with the entablature being carried up to form the balustrade of the first floor balcony. On the first floor the corners are expressed by means of pilasters and blind windows. The first floor has five large windows which are balanced by four small blind arches set in four pilaster strips which frame the corners of the building. The square openings above the first floor windows are pivot lights, used to ventilate the main hall. The mansard roof with clock tower has slate tiles and cast iron cresting on the ridge. At the roof line there is a bold cornice and central parapet containing the clock tower.

Windows located on the Mt. Vernon Street façade are arched in groups of three on the ground floor and on the first floor in groups of three with blind windows either side of the single arched window. Evidence of the Kean’s ventilation inlets located under the first floor windows.

Interior:
Generally intact with most of the original joinery including elaborate timber panel ceilings in the main halls. There are also pressed metal ceilings located in the main halls and meeting rooms. Local polished cedar was used throughout the interiors including the central staircase with turned and carved newels and balustrades. Most of the rooms on the ground floor contain the original fireplaces with register grates and marble mantle pieces.

Modifications:
Later additions include the construction of a large strongroom adjacent to the council office areas. The additions of W.C. facilities on ground and first floor and the addition of a women’s W.C. near the rear exit.

There has been a continuous program of upgrading of interiors of the building. There are areas of
original fabric and internal finishes remaining throughout the building.
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
The general condition of the internal fabric shows deterioration in the walls with evidence of damp penetration on the internal walls, particularly in the peeling paintwork of the Main Hall on the first floor and damage in the ground floor timber flooring. (Date condition updated December 2005)
Date condition updated:24 Mar 06
Modifications and dates: Additions in 1890-1891 designed by Ambrose Thornley, Junior. Extensive repairs were also carried out in the 1988 following a fire in the central stairwell and damage to the main hall.
Further information: Refer to detailed CMP.

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: Community Facility
Former use: Municipal Town Hall

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 )

Glebe Town Hall is built on part of a grant in 1796 of 400 acres to Reverend Richard Johnson on Church of England property known as the Glebe. Trustees of the Clergy and School Lands Corporation subdivided the Glebe into large allotments and retained 40 acres for the Archdeaconry land which was later subdivided as the Bishopthorpe Estate. These allotments were offered on 99 leases. The second allotment on which the Glebe Town Hall is located was originally part of Catherine Farm and was later subdivided as the Forest Lodge Estate. This later was sold by G. W. Allen to Fredrick Wells in 1868 and then sold to the Borough of Glebe in 1878.

Glebe was proclaimed a municipality in 1859 and was the fourth municipality to be incorporated under The Municipalities Act 1858. The Glebe Town Hall has a strong association with a number of significant people. Since its formation in 1859 the Glebe Council had been the domain of local professionals and businessmen. Between 1859 and 1875 the early Glebe Aldermen consisted of men such as the solicitor George Wigram Allen, Mayor for 18 consecutive terms from 1859 to 1877, the architects Edmund Blacket and George Allen Mansfield, surveyor Thomas Harwood, chemist William Pinhey, retail trader Michael Chapman, and the future State Premier George Dibbs.

Council meetings were initially held at various locations around the municipality. By 1878 the Council began to discuss the need for Town Hall and School of Arts.
The initial proposal for the construction of the Glebe Town Hall was recorded in the Glebe Council Minutes, 4th November 1878. The proposal was to hold a competition for the design of the Glebe Council Chamber and School of Arts with £15 offered of the best design. Ambrose Thornley Junior was appointed architect for the Glebe Town Hall at the Building Committee meeting on 6th February 1879.

The building of the Glebe Town Hall was commenced in 1879 and completed in 1880 by Sanbrook and Son. The Glebe Town Hall was opened by the Mayor Thomas J. Dunn and the project was completed at a cost of £4,600 with an additional £500 for the cost of furnishing the Glebe Town Hall.
The Town Clerks residence as the building was later called is located on Lodge Street and was completed prior to the principal council chambers as indicated in Council’s Improvement Committee Minutes of 1880. This would seem to indicate that the Council Clerk’s residence was occupied prior to the opening of the main building and may have been constructed on the principal allotment of the land before the building of the Glebe Town Hall. This building is still owned by the City of Sydney but is currently unoccupied.

In 1889, the Glebe Council decided to extend the existing Town Hall to provide an additional smaller Hall, Meeting Room and new Council Chambers. The design of these additions was carried out by the architect Ambrose Thornley, Jnr. The new additions were designed by Thornley in the same style of architecture as the original building The new additions were located on the Mt. Vernon Street side of the original building and consisted of new Council Chambers and meeting room on the ground floor with a new entry from Mt. Vernon Street. An additional stair provided access to a secondary hall and several smaller rooms on the first floor. An elaborate cantilever timber balcony was located on the first floor adjacent to the new meeting hall. The new additions also contained a basement level created by the slope of the land along Mt. Vernon Street.

The Glebe Town Hall was regularly used by the community for important civic occasions and well maintained as a reflection of the civic pride of the area. The Glebe Council conducted a regular program of maintenance and repair on the building, with major improvement in facilities also undertaken by the Council from the earliest periods of occupation of the building. Connection to the sewer had originally been recommended by Council in August 1890. The work was completed in 1892 and the building was connected to the sewer lines located in Mt. Vernon Street. Many local town halls throughout Sydney were also used for meetings during the First World War, and in 1916, a meeting was held in support of compulsory-reinforcements at the Glebe Town Hall. The effects of the Great War of 1914-18 were strongly felt by the Glebe community, and like many Sydney suburbs Glebe lost a large number of their residents during the First World War. A Roll of Honour memorial plaque of soldiers from the 1914 -1918 World War was erected in the main foyer of the Glebe Town Hall by the ratepayers and householders of Glebe to commemorate this loss.

The Glebe Council had a succession of aldermen who later became members of the Legislative Assembly. These men included George Wigram Allen, William Redman, George Dibbs and Michael Chapman.

The Glebe Town Hall also has strong associations with the Glebe branch of the Labour Party. From 1892 meetings of the Glebe Branch of the L.E.L. were held at the Glebe Town Hall. By 1925 the Glebe Council was controlled by Labor representatives with 11 Labor Aldermen elected to council, and Bill Walsh became Glebe’s first Labour Mayor. Another important member of the Glebe Community who served on the Council from 1934 was Dr. H. J. Foley, a medical practitioner and social reformer. He was made Mayor of Glebe in 1938.

In 1968 Glebe was transferred to Leichhardt Council when the facility continued to be used by community groups and as a venue for large social occasions.

Historic themes

Australian theme (abbrev)New South Wales themeLocal theme
7. Governing-Governing Government and Administration-Activities associated with the governance of local areas, regions, the State and the nation, and the administration of public programs - includes both principled and corrupt activities. (none)-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Social institutions-Activities and organisational arrangements for the provision of social activities (none)-

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
Glebe was proclaimed a municipality on 1st August 1859 and was the fourth municipality to be incorporated under The Municipalities Act of 1858.

The building of the Glebe Town Hall was a reflection of the emerging and complex nature of Victorian society in the municipality, and the changing needs of a more prosperous society.

The Glebe Town was designed as one of the grand town halls of Sydney with richly decorated interiors and the installation of the most modern conveniences.

Glebe Town Hall is one of the most important buildings in the professional career of the architect Ambrose Thornley, junior. It is a fine example of the Victorian Classical Free style of architecture of the period, as is Hong Kong House (formerly the Central Hotel) a notable Thornley building. The two substantial buildings are a contrast to the majority of Ambrose Thornley, Junior’s work which, in the main was domestic architecture in the newly developing suburban area of the Victorian era.
SHR Criteria b)
[Associative significance]
The Glebe Town Hall has a strong association with a number of significant people. Since its formation in 1859 the Glebe Council had been the domain of local professionals and businessmen. Between 1859 and 1875 the early Glebe Aldermen consisted of men such as the solicitor George Wigram Allen, mayor for 18 consecutive terms from 1859 to 1877, the architects Edmund Blacket and George Allen Mansfield, surveyor Thomas Harwood, chemist William Pinhey, retail trader Michael Chapman, and the future State Premier George Dibbs.

There were within the ranks of the Glebe Council a succession of aldermen who later became members of the Legislative Assembly. These men included George Wigram Allen, William Redman, George Dibbs and Michael Chapman.

The Glebe Town Hall also has strong associations with the Glebe branch of the Labour Party. From 1892 meetings of the Glebe Branch of the L.E.L. were held at the Glebe Town Hall. By 1925 the Glebe Council was controlled by Labor representatives with 11 Labor Aldermen elected to council, and Bill Walsh became Glebe’s first Labour Mayor.

Another important member of the Glebe Community who served on the Council was Dr. H. J. Foley, a medical practitioner and social reformer, who was a widely admired by the community for providing free medical services to the poor during times of hardship. In 1934 Dr. Foley became a member of the Glebe Council and Mayor of Glebe in 1938.
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
This building has aesthetic significance at a State level as a fine example of a largely intact building in the Victorian Free Classical style of architecture. Many of the buildings features are characteristic of this architectural style and the civic buildings of this period.

The building is located on a prominent corner site on St. Johns Road; Glebe Town Hall is regarded as a landmark in the local community.

The Glebe Town Hall also included in its original design the installation of the most modern conveniences of the time including that of the Kean’s ventilation system. This device provided good ventilation to the large public hall located on the first floor of the Hall by drawing fresh air from exterior inlet panels below the windowsills, via shafts in the wall cavity to outlet panels on the interior.
SHR Criteria d)
[Social significance]
The building is significant as an important component of the Glebe Conservation Area. At the time that Glebe Town Hall was being built, the area was developing an increasing sense of civic pride. Owing to the fact that this building has remained largely intact and continued it use as a community facility.

The Glebe Town Hall has continued to provide a strong sense of place within the local community and to provide a centre for the social and cultural life of the area and to provide a popular venue for entertainment, social events and fundraising functions.

The building has social significance to its original association with the Glebe Municipal Council, and continuous involvement with the government functions and development of the suburb of Glebe since the late 19th Century.
SHR Criteria e)
[Research potential]
Due to the nature of the Australian environment the vast majority of the Australian population is concentrated in the same highly urbanised areas since the arrival of Europeans. Theoretically this may mean that the areas such as the suburb of Glebe and the site of the Glebe Town Hall may in the future have a potential for archaeological research and investigation. However, the excavation works carried out during the construction of the building and later addition in the late nineteenth century would have destroyed any evidence of pre-colonial and early European settlement.
SHR Criteria f)
[Rarity]
The building is a rare intact example of Victorian Free Style of architecture used for large public and commercial buildings in Sydney in the later part of the 19th century, and has a monumental quality achieved by the manipulation of scale and the use of classical elements in its exterior.
SHR Criteria g)
[Representativeness]
The Glebe Town Hall is fine example of a large civic building of the late 19th century. It is representative as the seat of local metropolitan government for Glebe Municipality and of the style considered appropriate for town halls during the mid-nineteenth century.
Integrity/Intactness: The Glebe Town Hall retains a high degree of integrity relating to the criteria of significance.
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 buildings should be retained and conserved. All future works to be carried out in accordance with the principles and policies of Conservation Management Plan prepared for the site and supported where necessary by a Heritage Impact Statement,

Listings

Heritage ListingListing TitleListing NumberGazette DateGazette NumberGazette Page
Local Environmental PlanSydney LEP 2012I80714 Dec 12   
Heritage study     

Study details

TitleYearNumberAuthorInspected byGuidelines used
 0B56G   No

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
WrittenAnita Heiss Aboriginal People and Place, Barani: Indigenous History of Sydney City
WrittenApperly, Irving, Reynolds1989Identifying Australian Architecture
WrittenAshton, P. & Waterson, D.1977Sydney Takes Shape, a History in Maps
WrittenAustralian Council of National Trust1993Historic Places
WrittenBirch, A. & MacMillian, D.1962The Sydney Scene 1788-1960
WrittenD Sheedy1975National Trust Listing Card
WrittenDigby, E.1889Men of Mark
WrittenEvans, I.1983Furnishing Old Houses, a guide to interior Restoration
WrittenFitzgerald, S.1992Sydney 1942-1992
WrittenHogan, M.2004Local Labour: A History of the Labor Party in Glebe 1891-2000
WrittenLawrence, J. & Warne, C.1995A pictorial History of Balmain to Glebe
WrittenMacDonnell, F.1975The Glebe: Portraits and Places
WrittenOtto Cserhalmi & Partners Pty Limited, Architects2006Glebe Town Hall CMP
WrittenPettit, J. & James, T.2000Excelsior Land Investment & Building Company
WrittenPollon, F.1988The Book of Sydney Suburbs
WrittenSmith, B & K1973The Architectural Character of Glebe
WrittenSolling, M. & Reynolds, P.1997Leichhardt: On the Margins of the City
WrittenStapleton, M. Eds1983Historic Interiors

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: 2427740


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