Terrace Group, including former house of Juanita Nielson including interiors | NSW Environment, Energy and Science

Culture and heritage

Heritage

Terrace Group, including former house of Juanita Nielson including interiors

Item details

Name of item: Terrace Group, including former house of Juanita Nielson including interiors
Other name/s: Juanita Nielsen's Cottage
Type of item: Built
Group/Collection: Residential buildings (private)
Category: Terrace
Primary address: 11-13 Earl Street (and 198-202 Victoria Street), Potts Point, NSW 2011
Local govt. area: Sydney
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
11-13 Earl Street (and 198-202 Victoria Street)Potts PointSydney  Primary Address
198-202 Victoria StreetPotts PointSydney  Alternate Address

Statement of significance:

The terraces at 198-202 Victoria Street and 11-13 Earl Street have local historical and aesthetic significance. They were constructed in the middle of the nineteenth century on the first subdivisions of Edward Hallen’s Telford Lodge Estate and are a rare surviving group of Victorian Georgian style workers terraces within the immediate area.

The terrace house at 202 Victoria Street, Potts Point has a high level of historical and associational significance as the residence of Juanita Nielsen from 1968 until her disappearance in 1975 and as the site from where she published her local newspaper "Now." Nielsen led her campaign against the overdevelopment of Victoria Street and Woolloomooloo from the house. Nielsen was one of the high profile participants in the often violent fight for tenant’s rights and the ongoing campaign, through the early to mid 1970s, to protect the inner city and working class housing that dominated much of Kings Cross and Woolloomooloo. Nielsen’s activism and newspaper editorials were instrumental in raising the profile of the conservation campaign. Her disappearance at the height of the campaign, and the subsequent allegations of foul play directed towards the developers and their associates, further raised her profile and led to the exposure of criminal and underworld connections to development in Sydney’s inner city areas. Nielsen’s disappearance remains as one of Sydney’s most enduring unsolved mysteries.
Date significance updated: 07 Feb 11
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

Physical description: A group of three Victorian Georgian terraces fronting Victoria Street ( Nos 198-202) with a pair of similar terraces behind them fronting Earl Street ( Nos 11-13). They are double storey bald-faced terraces of brick construction on sandstone footings. They are built to the street alignment. The facades feature rendered brick walls in imitation ashlar.

The Victoria Street terraces all have a single window and front door to the ground floor and two windows to the first floor. The windows and door feature simple drip moulds above and decorative moulded sills beneath all windows. There are side gabled corrugated metal roofs with rendered brick chimneys featuring simple projecting stucco mouldings which are, located between No 198 and 200 , and at the southern end of 202.

The Earl Street terraces are even more simply detailed. No 13 has two windows on both floors with the main entrance on the southern side. No 15 has a single window and front door to the ground floor and two windows to the first floor. Windows feature simple sills. The main roof is hipped and clad with corrugated metal. There is a centrally located chimney, with moulded detailing, shared by both terraces.

Whilst the interiors of the terraces have been modified overtime the original room layout is largely discernible. Significant internal fabric includes timber joinery and fire places.

Comparative Analysis
Modest two storey ‘bald face’ Victorian terraces can be found throughout the inner city suburbs that were subdivided into small lots in the 1840s-1860s, such as Darlinghurst, Surry Hills, Chippendale, Woolloomooloo, Ultimo and Redfern. While not rare, these simple terraces, constructed in sandstone and/or sandstock brick, exist in far fewer numbers than rows constructed in the period 1870s to 1890s. Ornamentation, where present at all, as demonstrated by Nos. 198-202 Victoria Street, is generally limited to simple stucco mouldings above or below openings. By the 1880s, architectural tastes had changed; the manufacture of cast iron and stucco ornamentation boomed and even the simplest of terrace was given a verandah and varying degrees of stucco detailing.

The five subject dwellings display a comparable degree of external integrity to the examples currently listed by Council. Nos. 198-202 Victoria Street have added interest because of the simple stucco detailing below the window sill and Nos. 11-13 Earl Street because of their low hipped roof and central chimney stack. The fact that the latter do not face the principal thoroughfare is reflected in the lack of even the simplest ornamentation. The five terraces form a rare group within the immediate area. There is no other surviving group of relatively intact bald face terraces of this date at this end of Victoria Street. They are, in this context, rare examples of the early, simple workman terraces that characterised the southern end of Victoria Street during its first phase of development, 1840-1870.
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
Good
Date condition updated:17 Jul 07
Further information: Whilst the terrace group as whole has been assessed and endorsed as being locally significant, Juanita Nielson's house at No 198 is of state significance which has been recognised by its listing on the State Heritage Register on 27/6/2014.

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

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.

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

The terraces were constructed on a lot subdivided from the estate Telford Lodge estate of Edward Hallen. Hallen’s Telford Lodge was one of the grand mansions built during the 1830s and 1840s that had characterised the future Kings Cross and Potts Point area.

In the late 1850s many of the larger estates were being subdivided by their owners following a period of economic downturn and to profit from the increasing demand for residential land close to the growing city.

By matching the order of owner and occupiers through the Rate valuation records of the 1870s and 1880s, it has been ascertained that Nos 198-202 Victoria Street were first known at 204-208 Victoria Street. The first time Nos 204-208 Victoria street are clearly identified in the Rate and Valuation Records occurs in 1855-1858. At this time , the three terraces, all owned by John Hourigan and were described as two storey, "brick and shingled" with two rooms. It thus appears that these three terraces were constructed before 1858 and possible as early as 1855.

The dwellings now Nos.11 and 13 Earl Street are more difficult to date. Earl Street is not included in the first available Rate Records for Cooks Ward in 1845. By 1851-2, there were 15 dwellings lining the street, mostly constructed of timber. The relative position of each of these dwelling within the street is difficult to determine.

The first time the dwellings now Nos. 11 and 13 Earl Street can be positively identified in the Rate and Valuation Records occurs in 1863, where they were listed as Nos. 17 and 19 Earl Street. The dwellings were owned, by John Hourigan, who also owned the three terraces a6 198-202 Victoria Street. No. 17 Earl Street was occupied by John English and No. 19 Earl Street by William Stenhouse. The terraces were described as ‘brick’, ‘shingled’, of two storeys and three rooms. It is possible that the terraces were constructed at an earlier date. While the Rate and Valuation Record for 1861 indicates that most of the dwellings in Earl Street were constructed of timber and that there were no pairs of brick dwellings, an undated but earlier rate record (late 1850s), lists a number brick terraces in Earl Street, including a two storey pair owned by John Hourigan. It can thus only be said with any degree of certainty that the terraces had been constructed by 1863 and possibly in the late 1850s.

As for Victoria Street, Earl Street was renumbered several times. During the early 1880s, the poor condition of some of the dwellings in Victoria Street was noted in Rate Records; several are noted as ‘pulled down’ in 1886. In 1867 and 1871, the dwellings now Nos. 11 and 13 Earl Street were rated as Nos. 21 and 23 and, in 1882, as 17 and 19 Earl Street. By 1891 they had become, and remained, Nos. 11 and 13 Earl Street.

Nos. 198-202 Victoria Street and Nos. 11 and 13 Earl Street are typical of the type of development carried out on the small lot subdivision that characterised the southern end of Victoria Street in the middle decades of the nineteenth century. John Sands’ Sydney and Suburban Directories indicate that these terraces were occupied by working men and their families. The five dwellings were held under common ownership and occupied by a succession of tenancies until the mid twentieth century. Few tenants stayed for long periods.

During the mid nineteenth century, the majority of buildings along Victoria Street were occupied as private residences. By the 1890s, large numbers of ‘residentials’ and boarding houses were listed along Victoria and surrounding streets. This change was in part due to the steady move of those who could afford to into the newly developing outer suburbs. This move was promoted by improvements in public transport, which made it possible (and affordable) to gravel from the suburbs into the city on a daily basis. It was also promoted by the rhetoric of social reformers. The area developed an unfavourable reputation that was only reinforced by the bohemian lifestyles of some of the ‘fringe-dwellers’, artists, writers etc. who were attracted to the area during the interwar period and the presence of American service men during World War II. Rate and Valuation Records indicate that Nos. 198 and 202 Victoria Street were, as were many of their neighbours, occupied as mixed commercial/ residential buildings at various times from the 1950s through to the 1980s.

Of interest among the late nineteenth and early twentieth century owners of the terraces is Isaac Himmelhoch, who owned the terraces between 1893 and 1913. Himmelhoch was a businessman who owned a large amount of inner city property. Thomas Playfair, who owned the terraces between 1916 and 1925, was a member of a Sydney butchery and meat provedore family, who had served with distinction in World War I. He later became (in 1927) a member of the Legislative Council of New South Wales.

The titles for the properties were separated in 1958.

In 1968 the City of Sydney Council, then being managed by three State appointed City Commissioners, announced the preparation of a new comprehensive planning scheme. Certain keys areas, such as Woolloomooloo, Potts Point and Kings Cross, were highlighted for redevelopment. Under the plans put forward, it was proposed to revolutionise Kings Cross and Woolloomooloo through the demolition of old residential buildings and the construction of high density developments. Victoria Street’s place in this scheme was hotly contested by residents.

In 1968 202 Victoira Street was sold to Juanita Joan Nielsen activist and journalist, who was also owner of the local Kings Cross newspaper Now. Nielsen edited the paper in the late 1960s and early 1970s which was primarily at that time a local issues and advertising newspaper, promoting local businesses and services.

However by 1973 the focus of the paper began to shift as Juanita Nielsen became involved in a number of local issues that she saw as threatening the life style and harmony of the local community. One of the issues was the growing pressure by developers on the tenants of the terrace houses along Victoria Street to vacate their homes for redevelopment. Many tenants were forced or intimidated into leaving through 1973 and 1974. The attempted eviction of one tenant, Mick Fowler and his mother, brought matters to a head. Fowler had been away at sea when his mother as forced out. On his return from sea and finding his mother evicted and his house boarded up, Fowler gathered members of the Seamen’s Union of Australia and the Builders Labourers Federation to gain re-entry to his house, despite security guards having been placed around it. Fowler’s actions were the beginnings of an ongoing and often violent campaign between residents and unions and the developers, culminating in a BLF Green Ban being placed on development in Victoria Street in late 1973.

Nielsen, supporting the fight to save Victoria Street, began to use her newspaper to bring attention to the battle and to the violence and menace that accompanied the struggle. In early 1975 the NSW branch of the BLF was taken over by the Federal branch and the Green Ban was lifted, however through her activism, Nielsen had by then also been instrumental in organising a ban by the Federated Engine Drivers & Firemen’s Association, which effectively continued the stop on development. Her campaign for the stopping of the development intensified as the company wishing to develop the street, under Frank Theeman, stalled and began to lose money at the rate of $3000 per day. During the same period Juanita Nielsen was also using the paper to protest over development in Woolloomooloo that was also threatening the working and affordable housing stock of the area.

On July 4 1975 Juanita Nielsen disappeared after attended a meeting at the Carousel Club in Kings Cross to arrange advertising space for the club. Her disappearance remains as one of Sydney’s most enduring mysteries. Subsequent inquiries linked her disappearance to the Kings Cross underworld and their operations in the development companies that had been involved in the Victoria Street developments.

Historic themes

Australian theme (abbrev)New South Wales themeLocal theme
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Communication-Activities relating to the creation and conveyance of information (none)-
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. (none)-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Events-Activities and processes that mark the consequences of natural and cultural occurences (none)-

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
The terraces have historical significance as workers terraces, constructed in the middle of the nineteenth century, on the first subdivisions of Edward Hallen’s Telford Lodge Estate.
SHR Criteria b)
[Associative significance]
The terrace at 202 Victoria Street has a strong association with the life and work of Juanita Nielsen, who owned the house and lived there from 1968 until her disappearance in July 1975. Nielsen was the grand-daughter of Sydney retailer Mark Foy. From the house she ran and published her local newspaper, Now, which started as a light, local newspaper with advertorial and commercial content, but grew into a powerful tool in Nielsen’s campaign against the over development of Victoria Street, the demolition of many of the historic terraces in the area and the eviction of the poor tenants in them. Through her agitation and editorial comment in Now, Nielsen raised the profile of the struggles in inner city Sydney against large scale developers, and revealed the often brutal and violent tactics that were being used. Nielsen was a prominent campaigner and at times also worked alongside Jack Mundey and the Builders Labourers Federation who were simultaneously imposing Green Bans in the area to stop the developments.
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
A group of mid - Victorian workers terraces, demonstrating key characteristics of the Victorian Georgian style, which contribute to the streetscapes of Victoria Street and Earl Street.
SHR Criteria d)
[Social significance]
Although a comprehensive social survey has not been undertaken for this assessment, through the association with Juanita Nielsen and her battles to conserve the Victoria Street area, the site has gained some association with community and heritage groups as a symbol of the heritage conservation of Victoria Street and of the wider inner city area. No 202 Victoria Street is marked by a plaque on the footpath outlining the story of Juanita Nielsen.
SHR Criteria e)
[Research potential]
The site is unlikely to yield any new information that would contribute to the further understanding of the cultural or natural history of the site.
SHR Criteria f)
[Rarity]
Rare surviving group of workers terraces within the immediate area.
SHR Criteria g)
[Representativeness]
Representative example of Victorian Georgian style workers terraces found in the inner suburbs of Sydney.
Integrity/Intactness: Moderate
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. 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 façades of the buildings other than to reinstate original features such as replacement of front casement windows with timber framed double hung sash windows. 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 External colour schemes to be appropriate to the style and period of the terraces.

Listings

Heritage ListingListing TitleListing NumberGazette DateGazette NumberGazette Page
Local Environmental PlanSydney LEP 2012I113114 Dec 12   
Heritage study     

Study details

TitleYearNumberAuthorInspected byGuidelines used
Heritage Review of Selected Heritage Items and Potential Heritage Items2008 Weir Phillips, Architects and Heritage Consultants  No

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
WrittenAboriginal People and Place, Barani: Indigenous History of Sydney City Aboriginal People and Place, Barani: Indigenous History of Sydney City View detail
WrittenMark Dunn2008202 Victoria Street Potts Point - Heritage Significance Assessment

Note: internet links may be to web pages, documents or images.

rez rez rez rez rez
(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: 2431177


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.

All information and pictures on this page are the copyright of the Heritage Division or respective copyright owners.