Residential flat building and grounds | NSW Environment, Energy and Science

Culture and heritage


Residential flat building and grounds

Item details

Name of item: Residential flat building and grounds
Other name/s: Bensonia Flats (in 1922) then Links Court after 1926
Type of item: Built
Group/Collection: Residential buildings (private)
Category: Block of Flats
Primary address: 275 O'Sullivan Road, Bellevue Hill, NSW 2023
Local govt. area: Woollahra
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
275 O'Sullivan RoadBellevue HillWoollahra  Primary Address

Statement of significance:

The residential flat building and its grounds in conjunction with the adjacent building at No.277 O’Sullivan Road Bellevue Hill are of local significance demonstrated by of the buildings’ consistent aesthetic form and detail. The pair are good virtually intact examples of late Arts & Crafts style architecture applied residential flat buildings which utilize paired development to achieve a landmark quality. The buildings are historically significant as a detailed example of the aesthetic details employed by entrepreneurs in the early inter-war residential flat development in Bellevue Hill.
Date significance updated: 19 May 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: Albert Shaw & Ferguson
Builder/Maker: Albert Shaw & Ferguson
Physical description: The residential flat building at 275 O’Sullivan Road Bellevue Hill is arranged symmetrically in mirror reversed plan form with No 277 O’Sullivan Road, on adjacent allotments to the western side of O’Sullivan Road north of the intersection with Old South Head Road. Designed in the Federation Art & Crafts Style, the two storey building is constructed in facebrick with rough-cast rendered brick to the first storey. The roof to No. 275 retains the unglazed Marseille pattern terra cotta tiling to the hipped and gabled forms.

The buildings comprise highly detailed wings stepped forward of a larger and simply detailed core. The core structures with their broad, hipped roof and exposed rafters to the street frontage provides a uniform background to the ornate street frontage. The main outer wings to the building group comprises extended hipped roofs with projecting gables at the street frontage. The wings enclose a central lawn between the two buildings. Shorter gable roofed projections enclose ground and first floor verandahs set between the main wings.

Detailing to the forward wings comprise soft red face brick to ground level with open verandahs and double hung four paned sash windows arranged in pairs beneath a continuous rendered band incorporating lintels and topped by further face brick. The upper floor is finished in roughcast render with face brick decoration within the gable end in the form of single course banding above a running band of rectangular panels. Windows to the first floor repeat the pattern of the ground floor with the addition of flat roofed awnings supported by exposed rafters. Open verandahs are located at first floor level on the inner return to the street frontage and to the secondary wing projecting into the central front lawn of the complex. Verandahs to the first floor comprise paired timber posts set on raised and capped brick piers and supporting verandah beams with crossed junction detailing. Spaced timber balustrading is set between the raised piers with shallow curved profile valence boards above. Gable infill to the inner verandahs is of timber shingle.

The grounds of the residential flats are landscaped with open lawns, shrubs, small trees and perimeter hedging. A coloured concrete entry path at the centre of the combined sites reinforces the symmetry of the buildings. At the street frontage single entry garages have been constructed into the embankment forward of 275 O’Sullivan Road, formerly defined by a brick retaining wall/fence. Garages are of face brick with exposed concrete slab above and metal roller doors. The remaining sections of fencing to the south of the entry are rendered with some elements of the previous face brick finish remaining immediately to the north of the entry.
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
The building is in good condition with much original external fabric sympathetically maintained. The existing terra cotta tile roofs appear replacements from later periods. The original detailing remains. Interiors have not been inspected but would appear to match the external fabric in terms of repair, alterations being associated with internal refurbishment.
Date condition updated:19 May 06
Modifications and dates: Alterations identified from building applications are limited to:
BA 26/56 - new garages to street frontage of 275 O’Sullivan Road.
Further information: This building is in a context of extensive reconstruction based upon current 2(b) zoning and available outlook. This has resulted in removal of much of the immediate setting and streetscape from the time of construction. The curtilage is therefore recommended to be limited to the combined sites.

Comparative assessment
The paired residential flat buildings at 275-277 O’Sullivan Road provide an early example of combined flat development employing the relationship of similar buildings to achieve landmark character. Later examples from the late 1930’s seen nearby at 40-40B and 76-78 Birriga Road employ the device on more densely developed sites. Generally these lack the spacious landscape setting of the O’Sullivan Road development. The later, a feature of Arts & Crafts styled buildings is achieved at O’Sullivan Road by the mirror reversed set out and adherence to a scale commensurate with that of residences from the period. The spacious surrounds and generous residential form convey an air of establishment not seen in more densely developed flats of a similar period such as at 70 Birriga Road.
Current use: Residential flats
Former use: Residential flats


Historical notes: The site at 275 O’Sullivan Road Bellevue Hill is located on the eastern slope of a ridgeline identified as Ghinigulla by the indigenous Wangal clan prior to European settlement. The ridgeline takes the name Bellevue Hill from the naming of a lookout point to the southern end as Belle-Vue by Governor Macquarie in 1820.

The site was originally part of a grant to Richard Partridge, subsequently purchased by Captain John Piper. In 1826 the Piper Estate was conveyed to Solomon Levey and Daniel Cooper following Piper’s insolvency.

The establishment of gentleman’s villas in the area commenced along the route of the South Head Road in the 1840’s (notably Waverley House). With completion of the New South Head Road in the early 1840’s and survey of cross routes to Old South Head Road in 1846, villa’s were constructed along the northern slopes of Bellevue Hill during the late 1850’s beginning with James Fairfax’s Ginahgulla of 1858 and Edwin Tooth’s Cranbrook.

In 1847 Daniel Cooper became sole owner of the Cooper Estate. Daniel Cooper willed his estate to a nephew Daniel Cooper, a resident of London with little interest in development. Cooper in turn left the still largely undeveloped lands to his sons Daniel and William. The proviso that the lands be held until the sons turned twenty-one, saw large areas released on 99-year leases at low rental. Under Daniel Cooper III’s instructions, sales of his Bellevue Hill holdings commenced in 1883. Sales did not accelerate until the Bellevue Hill tram service of the 1890’s facilitated regular commuting.

The Bellevue-Bondi Estate, the most extensive subdivision in Bellevue Hill, was released by the Cooper Family in three stages from 1912-20. The Estate extended from O’Sullivan Road to Victoria Road and from Old South Head Road to Plumer Road.

Construction of Birriga Road, a key access route to the estate, commenced in 1911 but was not fully completed until 1913. In 1909 the Bellevue Hill Tram service had been constructed to Bellevue Hill Park. Extension of the tram service down Birriga Road in 1915 saw the new subdivision opened to residential development.

Section E of the Estate included lots 7 & 8 the current sites of 275-277. In 1920 these were recorded as the property of RS McDonald & William Siebald. Woollahra Council minutes of 27 April 1920 record refusal of an application by McDonald and Siebald with approval to be granted if amended construction details relating to fire rating, floor structure, and waterproofing were provided. Approval in May 1920 records McDonald and Siebald as the owners and Albert Shaw and Ferguson as the builder/architect. The flats are recorded in Sand’s Directory for 1922 as Bensonia Flats by which time the owners are listed as McDonald and H.D. Christison, the later having been an alderman and mayor (1918) of Vaucluse Council. In 1926 the flats were listed as Links Court, reflecting the relocation of the Royal Sydney Golf Course to the northern side of Old South Head Road.

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. Housing - Suburban Expansion-
4. Settlement-Building settlements, towns and cities Land tenure-Activities and processes for identifying forms of ownership and occupancy of land and water, both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Land Tenure-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Creative endeavour-Activities associated with the production and performance of literary, artistic, architectural and other imaginative, interpretive or inventive works; and/or associated with the production and expression of cultural phenomena; and/or environments that have inspired such creative activities. (none)-

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
The site at 275 O’Sullivan Road Bellevue Hill has evolved from later subdivisions of the Cooper Estate resulting in infill of the sandy heath lands covering the eastern slopes of Bellevue Hill accessed by extension of the Bellevue Hill tramway at the beginning of the 20th century.

The pair of residential flat buildings at 275-277 O’Sullivan Road demonstrate the introduction of this relatively new form of housing within Sydney (from 1906) to outer suburban locations of Woollahra Municipality as a direct response to the establishment of reliable transport.

The pair of residential flat buildings demonstrate the early attempts to establish the form as an alternative to the freestanding and attached house with close visual association to these accepted forms of housing. The consistency of detailing in this style may be compared with notable examples of residential flat construction in the Federation Arts & Crafts Style including seminal examples at Windmill Street Millers Point and Strickland Flats at Chippendale designed by Robert H. Broderick in 1912.

The spacious setting of the buildings incorporating open lawns and generous verandahs reflect the amenity provided by improved low cost transport and affordable subdivisions of the outer eastern suburbs during the Federation and immediate post World War One period.

The buildings retain historic significance as a detailed example of the forms employed by entrepreneurs in the early development of the residential flat building within Bellevue Hill.
SHR Criteria b)
[Associative significance]
The site at 275 O’Sullivan Road Bellevue Hill has local association with the developers and early owners of the buildings R S McDonald, William Siebald and later H D Christison the later part owner a member of Vaucluse Council and Mayor in 1918. The association with Christison provides limited significance under this criterion.
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
The sites at 275-277 O’Sullivan Road Bellevue Hill contain residential flat buildings demonstrating the aesthetic influences of the English Arts and Crafts Movement upon residential construction in NSW. The resultant Federation Arts & Crafts style was employed in NSW from the late 1880’s through to the years immediately following the First World War. The buildings also demonstrate the utilization of paired development to achieve considerable landmark quality. The pair of building are considered to demonstrate aesthetic significance.
SHR Criteria d)
[Social significance]
The site at of 275 O’Sullivan Road Bellevue Hill is not associated with a particular community or cultural group within Woollahra for social, cultural or spiritual reasons.
SHR Criteria e)
[Research potential]
The building at 275 O’Sullivan Road Bellevue Hill demonstrates the level of technical skill existing in the immediate post World War One in trades employed within the construction and detailing of Federation and inter-war housing. The building is not an important benchmark or reference site to the technical understanding of this period of construction.
SHR Criteria f)
The residential flat buildings at 275-277 O’Sullivan Road Bellevue Hill represent a type of limited occurrence in Sydney particularly in the form and quality of this example.
SHR Criteria g)
The pair of residential flat buildings at 275-277 O’Sullivan Road are fine examples of the Federation Arts & Crafts style employed within the early 20th century introduction of residential flat buildings. In their current form, the buildings retains the principle characteristics of Federation Arts & Crafts residential flat buildings, which formed an important aspect of early 20th century residential development of Bellevue Hill. The buildings are considered to retain significance under this criterion.
Integrity/Intactness: The setting to the building at 275 O’Sullivan Road has been slightly comprmised by street front garages. The paired buildings retain the core relationship to the site, street and setting by virtue of elevation and limited external alteration.
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:

Conservation policy In order to maintain significance of the building and its contributory setting all original fabric and finishes external to the building are to be considered important and should be retained in the original relationship to the building. Works to existing original fabric and of sympathetic supporting fabric of later addition should be limited to maintenance. Alterations should be limited to removal of unsympathetic additions and modifications, and construction of works highly sympathetic to the form, design and detail of the original residence and its landscape setting. This approach should extend to the grounds and include the long term replacement of unsympathetic elements. No works should be carried out which obscure or reduce the visual relationship of the building to its setting, the vista to the east, or the view of the building from O’Sullivan Road. The curtilage is recommended to be the sites of the pair of buildings.


Heritage ListingListing TitleListing NumberGazette DateGazette NumberGazette Page
Local Environmental PlanWoollahraLEP 199505 May 06 55 
Local Environmental PlanWoollahra LEP 20144823 May 15   
Heritage studyTanner 01 Jan 98   

Study details

TitleYearNumberAuthorInspected byGuidelines used
 2003 Colin Brady Architecture + Planning  Yes

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
WrittenLibby Maher2004Amendments to the heritage inventory sheet
WrittenRosemary Broomham2002Bellevue Hill Thematic History
WrittenSand's Directories1911The Sand's Sydney Directories

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: 2711427

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