"Bay House" Including Interior | NSW Environment, Energy and Science

Culture and heritage


"Bay House" Including Interior

Item details

Name of item: "Bay House" Including Interior
Primary address: 76-82 Bay Street, Ultimo, NSW 2007
Local govt. area: Sydney
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
76-82 Bay StreetUltimoSydney  Primary Address

Statement of significance:

Fine example of a four storey facebrick Federation Free Classical style Commercial Building, which makes an important contribution to the streetscape of Bay Street. It is designed by the prominent architectural practice of Morrow and Deputron and provides evidence of the development of the Grace Bros Retail Empire in the early 20th century.
Date significance updated: 16 Aug 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: Morrow & Deputron
Builder/Maker: Not ascertained
Physical description: A four storey facebrick Federation Free Classical department store building that features a parapet with rendered trim and decorative brickwork. The second and third storey timber framed windows have rendered sills and are pronounced by three vertical bays with piers that project above the parapet with rendered capping and a semi-circular design. The 1st floor is characterised by a series of modulated timber framed bay windows, which reflect the shop fronts at the street level. The ground floor openings have retained the large bay windows and original plate glass displays, original awning components, pressed metal ceiling detail and original tiling pattern at the shop entrances.
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
Date condition updated:21 Jul 06
Modifications and dates: 2002 - internal modifications, including new mezzanine level
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: Ground floor retail and upper levels offices
Former use: Retail


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.

With the invasion of the Sydney region, the Cadigal and Wangal people were decimated but there are descendants still living in Sydney today.

Ultimo was given it name by the original land owner of the estate, the Principal of the New South Wales Corps, Surgeon John Harris. In 1803 Harris was accused of divulging confidential information, and was subsequently court martialled, during which he noted a documentary discrepancy, where the date of the offence was given as"Ultimo" rather than "instant". The charges against him were withdrawn, after his acquittal Harris named the land he received that year as Ultimo Farm.

In 1789 the Governor gave 400 acres to the Church of England for its glebe (Latin glebe, a cold of earth), for the time-worn custom of providing for the clergy, especially in new settlements. The financially crippled Church sold several plots of The Glebe in 1828, and at a second auction that year leased a further twelve lots either side of Bay Street. In 1887, Bay Street had been designated the boundary between the Municipality of Glebe and the City of Sydney.

The Grace Brothers retail precinct, located at what was then called George Street West, grew out of a modest joint venture project between two brothers, Joseph and Albert Grace in 1885. Taking advantage of the processes of urban consolidation, the brothers quickly obtained leasehold land from the City of Sydney and the Glebe Council. Within 25 years, the Grace Brothers had left an indelible landmark in the Broadway/Bay Street Precinct.

In its first year of publication, 1858-59, the Sands Directory recorded the 15 principle residents along Bay Street from Parramatta Road to William Henry Street. By 1887, the same stretch was home to 43 principle residents.

In 1905, as part of the city beautification policy, the City of Sydney Council resumed much of Bay Street and George Street West, including the subject site. This land was made available in 1911, which allowed the Grace Bros empire to expand. The first plans for Bay House was for the company’s furniture store on the busy Francis Street. These plans were subsequently changed by the opportunity for an expanded leasehold for a new site. By 1915 the new building on Bay Street has been constructed and was used as a repository for builders’ supplies.

The building was previously headquarters for the Co-op Bookshop, who still retain one of the ground floor teneancies as an academic bookshop, and is currently tne headquarters for Readers Digest.

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 building provides evidence of the growth of the Grace Bros Retail Empire in the early 20th century.
SHR Criteria b)
[Associative significance]
Bay House is associated with the work of, and evolution of the architectural practice Morrow & Deputron. The building was also part of the Grace Bros empire which continues to serve the Australian public as part of Myers
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
Fine example of Federation Free Classical commercial building that is part of the Grace Bros Broadway retail complex.
SHR Criteria f)
It is the only early freemasonry façade of the Grace Bros Broadway complex that has not been painted
SHR Criteria g)
Representative and intact example of a Federation Free Classical style commercial building.
Integrity/Intactness: Externally intact
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 overall form of the building should be retained and conserved. Due to the significance of the building to the streetscape there should be no additional floors. All external fabric should be preserved in its existing form with original openings not to be enclosed or altered. Facebrick is not to be painted, rendered or coated. Surfaces that are intended to be painted should be done so in the appropriate colours. Significant fabric and spaces to be retained and conserved.


Heritage ListingListing TitleListing NumberGazette DateGazette NumberGazette Page
Local Environmental PlanSydney LEP 2012I200314 Dec 12   
Heritage study     

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
WrittenGraham Brooks and Associates2002Statement of Heritage Impact. Bay House, 76-84 Bay Street Ultimo
WrittenNoel Bell, Ridley Smith and Partners1995Grace Bros Conservation Plan

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: 2431097

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