House and grounds | NSW Environment, Energy and Science

Culture and heritage


House and grounds

Item details

Name of item: House and grounds
Type of item: Built
Group/Collection: Residential buildings (private)
Category: House
Primary address: 4 Sutherland Crescent, Darling Point, NSW 2027
Local govt. area: Woollahra
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
4 Sutherland CrescentDarling PointWoollahra  Primary Address

Statement of significance:

The site of 4 Sutherland Crescent, Darling Point has some historic significance as part of the earlier estate of Etham House. The building has aesthetic significance for its contribution to the streetscape of Etham Avenue precinct and as a largely intact and fine example of a residence constructed in the period of development after the sale and subdivision of the Etham Estate.
The building has social significance as part of the evolutionary development of the district at a time when it was becoming difficult to employ servants and therefore as an example of the more compact residence which was designed for the minimum of household assistance. The house appears to have had only two owners between its construction in 1926 and 1968
The two buildings on this corner are of comparative significance for the strong contribution they make to the surroundings and context of the adjoining buildings as well as for the fact that they are fine largely intact examples of medium sized dwellings which are representative of the varied fashions of the period
Date significance updated: 13 Nov 03
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: Oakley & Midleton, Architects
Physical description: The building at 4 Sutherland Crescent was designed by Oakley & Midleton, architects and constructed c1926 for John Henry Saunders. In the Sands Directory of 1926 the building is named ‘San Rafael.’
The building was designed in a simplified Federation style and constructed of face brick with a hipped roof, possibly originally slate, but now clad in glazed terra cotta tiles.
The house is two storey with the living areas all situated on the ground floor and the rooms of the upper storey projecting out of the highly pitched roof main form to form a secondary hip and gable to the front. The base of the building is set on rusticated stone blocks which are extended up to form the pillars of the verandah which faces north. The main entrance is located off the ground floor verandah which features a semi circular stone and brick balcony projection under the main roof form. A deep covered porch gives entrance into the main stair hall with the drawing room, dining room and study opening off each other to give an l living area. The kitchen and maids bedroom were located at the rear. The main staircase gave access to three bedrooms, bathroom and two large balconies opening off the front and rear of the house. The front balcony has been enclosed to form another room
The roof is a typical high pitched hip with a projecting gable over the former two storey verandah. The gable ends are clad in timber shingles which flare out at the base and the roof is bracketed on either side of the chimney on the eastern wall. The chimney is of face brick with a terra cotta pot, The windows appear to be original timber frame double hung sashes
The property has a low sandstone and chain fence on the frontage of Sutherland Cresent to the north and the house wall forms part of the boundary on the eastern side. The landscaping is low scale and does not appear to be original planting.
The building is in good condition and well maintained externally. Only the exterior has been inspected so the extent of modification or condition of interior is not known.
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
The building appears to be in excellent condition externally and also appears to have retained much of the original detailing, particularly shingle cladding and brackets of the eaves, the sandstone pillars to the verandah and the face brickwork. It would appear from an external inspection that there are no structural problems with the brickwork and that the timberwork has been maintained throughout in good condition.
An internal inspection has not been made so it is impossible to assess how intact the building is internally, however the intact nature of the exterior detailing would indicate that extensive modification of the interior may not have taken place other than modernising the kitchen and bathrooms and the obvious infill of the front verandah on the upper floor with timber windows.
Date condition updated:13 Nov 03
Modifications and dates: 1924 Approval for construction
List all significant modifications and relevant dates with a brief description including the level of intrusion (considerable, some, little or none).
Further information: The building appears to be in good condition and in a largely intact state. The building fabric is of high quality and maintained in good condition.
Current use: Residence
Former use: Residence


Historical notes: Etham Estate was released for sale by the Estate of the late James Sutherland Mitchell in 1900-1903 and 1905. Mitchell was an Alderman (1873-1889) and Mayor (elected 1877) of Woollahra Council. He was in the Commissariat in Hobart and was a partner in Tooth and Co the Brewers. James Mitchell was not a relative of Thomas Mitchell. Following Mitchell’s death in 1893 his estate was subdivided and the house Etham was demolished in 1918-19. The land on which No 14 Etham Avenue is constructed was put up for auction as Etham Estate in 1901 and the remainder was auctioned again in 1903.
No 4 Sutherland Cresent was constructed for John Saunders in 1926 and was listed in Sands as ‘San Rafael ’. The house was lived in by Saunders for a number of years. By 1949 the owners are listed as Horace and Drazel Abbott and the house called ‘La Rafael’. The Abbotts retained ownership through to 1968.

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
The site has significance as part of the ongoing development of the Darling Point area and as a part of the former Etham Estate which was subdivided in the first decade of the 20th century.
SHR Criteria b)
[Associative significance]
The building has some associational significance as part of the earlier Etham Estate which was subdivided at the turn of the century.
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
The building at 4 Sutherland Cresent has aesthetic significance as a relatively intact and fine example of one of the many styles of building which were fashionable at the turn of the century. The house is a good example of one of the various styles which made up the Federation Period housing throughout Sydney in the early decades of the 20th century and is indicative of the type and quality of housing which was part of the wave of redevelopment occurring throughout the eastern suburbs at this time.
SHR Criteria d)
[Social significance]
The building has social significance for its contribution to the over riding character of the Etham Avenue, Sutherland Cresent streetscape and precinct.
SHR Criteria e)
[Research potential]
The building is largely intact externally in both style and fabric and is a good example as one of the styles which were popular in the Federation Period. The building is representative of the type of dwelling which was part of the re development of the area at the turn of the century.
SHR Criteria g)
No 4 Sutherland Cresent is a fine representative example demonstrating the principal characteristics of a Federation Period residence which was typical of the evolutionary development in the Darling Point precinct in the early decades of the 20th century.
Integrity/Intactness: The original fabric of the item retains largely intact externally. Aspects which make up the aesthetic significant of this building include the intact two storey form and style of the building, the intact face brickwork and combination of timber shingling and battened cladding. The location of the building in relation to Etham Avenue and Sutherland Cresent and the existing context which this building currently shares with No 14 Etham Avenue and the immediate buildings in Etham Avenue and Sutherland Cresent
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 is recommended for inclusion on the Woollahra LEP as an item of cultural heritage. Any future proposals for modifications to the building should respect the form and style of the building. There should be no additions which break the roofline, enlarge or fill in the existing window and door openings, modify the style and type of windows or remove or modify the significant timber detailing and shingling externally. All face brick and sandstone material which was originally unpainted should remain unpainted. The form and fabric of the roof should be retained and only modifications allowed which do not alter the intact nature of the building when viewed from Sutherland Cresent. Any proposal for modifications should consider the opening up of the front verandah on the upper floor. Additions may be allowed at the rear of the building if designed and constructed in a sympathetic style and fabric but should be secondary in scale and mass to the form of the original building. The existing sandstone fencing should be maintained around the major boundaries to allow views and vistas of the building within the context of the streetscape


Heritage ListingListing TitleListing NumberGazette DateGazette NumberGazette Page
Local Environmental PlanWoollahraLEP 1995 Am 3522 May 01 100 
Local Environmental PlanWoollahra LEP 201418323 May 15   
Within a conservation area on an LEPEtham Avenue HCALEP 1995 Am 3522 May 01 100 
Heritage studyanner    

Study details

TitleYearNumberAuthorInspected byGuidelines used
Heritage Assessment Report - 37-39 & 41 Etham Avenue Darling Point and Etham Avenue Precinct2000 Fraser Hugh  Yes
Etham Avenue Heritage Inventory sheets2000 Glen Cowell Heritage Services  Yes

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
Written 1932Sands Directory

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: 2711236

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