ANZ Bank (former) | NSW Environment & Heritage

Culture and heritage


ANZ Bank (former)

Item details

Name of item: ANZ Bank (former)
Other name/s: ANZ Bank, United Permanent Building, 2 Martin Place;,Paspaley Pearls, 354-360 George Street, Bank of Australasia
Type of item: Built
Group/Collection: Commercial
Category: Bank
Location: Lat: -33.8672323978 Long: 151.2074208540
Primary address: 354 George Street, Sydney, NSW 2000
Parish: St James
County: Cumberland
Local govt. area: Sydney
Local Aboriginal Land Council: Metropolitan
Property description
Lot/Volume CodeLot/Volume NumberSection NumberPlan/Folio CodePlan/Folio Number
LOT1 DP123553
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
354 George StreetSydneySydneySt JamesCumberlandPrimary Address
2 Martin PlaceSydneySydneySt JamesCumberlandAlternate Address


Organisation NameOwner CategoryDate Ownership Updated
Paspaley Pearls Properties P/LPrivate 

Statement of significance:

The building is historically significant because of its associations with the Bank of Australasia and the formation and consolidation of Martin Place in the wake of the construction of the General Post Office. The building has aesthetic significance because it is fine example of a Federation Romanesque bank located amongst a group of important nineteenth and twentieth century commercial and public buildings. It also has significance because of its associations with the notable American architect Edward E. Raht, who is credited with introducing neo-Romanesque architecture to Australia which led to the Federation Warehouse style. The building makes a very important visual contribution to the immediate locality, and contains one of the finest surviving banking chambers in Sydney, one of a group of buildings in the locality that also contain significant banking chambers. Certain parts of the building's fabric, including the pair of birdcage lift cars, steel stair, marble lined lavatories within the upper basement, the marble lined ceiling above the ground floor lobby; the vaulted ceilings lined with glazed bricks and security vault spaces located in the lower basement have technical/research significance.
Date significance updated: 16 Oct 08
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: 1904-Edward Raht, 1937 A.K. Henderson, 1951-8 Josaeland & Gilling, 1980-Kevin Winterbottom and Asoc
Builder/Maker: 1904- Loveridge & Hudson; 1937- Kell and Rigby
Construction years: 1902-1904
Physical description: 2 Martin Place, the former Bank of Australasia, still conforms to the basic configuration designed by Edward Raht, and contains a high ground floor with shallow mezzanine along the eastern side, three upper floors and two basement levels. Major elements of vertical circulation, including a steel stair and two early lifts, are located on the eastern side of the building. The facade is of a broad Renaissance influence with some forms drawn from early Renaissance models, while others appear to be of Baroque derivation. The interior is lavishly decorated with extensive use of bronze, marble, cedar, fine wrought iron and gold leaf dominating the main banking chamber.

The three street facades are constructed of "Bowral Trachyte" from Mount Gibraltar microsyenite quarry. The trachyte supply, masonry and building contarctor was Loveridge and Hudson who also built Raht's Societe Generale (former Equitable Life Assurance Society of America) at 348-352 George Street. The refined stone detailing a heavily rusticated rock-faced facade contrasted with a polished base, with both honed and tooled details and smooth trachye columns, window mullions, cornice and parapet. Loveridge and Hudson were important masonry contractors with skilled banker masons as well as trachyte quarries. The Bank's motif is carved on a semicircular pediment above the splayed corner.

The eastern party wall is of brick. The two large basement levels extend 5 metres under Martin Place and are lit by deep wells on all three facades, with pavement lights. The structure is a composite of load-bearing external walls with wrought-iron columns and rolled steel girders, clad in terra-cotta. Load bearing brickwork supports partition walls. Ceilings are rendered flush based on half inch plaster blocks, attached to the soffit of the terra-cotta blocks. Flat roof structure similar to floor structure above.

The building is in the Federation Romanesque style, an early example of the influence of American Romanesque. American architects Edward Raht's work in Sydney and Melbourne made a significant point in the development of the style. At this time the Federation Free Classical style was most commonly applied to commercial and institutional buildings and was current in the years around the turn of the century and up to the time of World War One. Banks generally conformed to the basic language of Classical Architecture, designers distorted, exaggerated and simplified detailing and sometimes invented new forms. Elements of the Victorian Mannerist style appeared in the form of dramatic shifts in scale and a sense of cleverness and an expression of the unusual. Practiitioners of Federation Romanesque in Sydney were George McRae,William Kemp, Varney Parkes and Edward Raht.

The building forms an important part of the streetscape in this part of the city, with important visual links to a number of other significant nineteenth and twentieth century buildings in the locality. Almost all, with the exception of the Art Deco style Challis House, are designed within a well detailed and rich vocabulary of classically derived detailing, but all are faced in a variety of building stones, including sandstone, trachyte and granite.The entry at the corner of George Street and Martin Place and the eastern entry addressing Martin Place exemplifies the neo-Romanesque character of the exterior. Substantial wrought metal grilles protect the windows to the ground floor and upper basement levels. The combination of these elements with the rusticated stonework that surrounds the window openings creates a rich physical and visual texture at street level. The window joinery appears to be original. Later items that have been placed on the facades include a clock on the western side and a plaque on the eastern side of the Martin Place facade.
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
The condition of the fabric is excellent.
The archaeological potential of the site is unknown.
Date condition updated:16 Oct 08
Modifications and dates: 1936, 1947,1951-1959, 1966, 1968, 1970, 1974.
Further information: Comparisons
Former Equitable Life Assurance Society of the United States Building (Former Colonial Mutual Life Building), 316 Collins Street, Melbourne
Societe Generale, former Equitable Life Assurance Society of America Building, 348-352 George Street, Sydney
Queen Victoria Building, George Street
Sydney institute of Technology, Building C, Former Technological Museum, Harris Street, Ultimo
English Scottish and Australian Bank, (former), Broadway
ES&AC Bank (former), 131-135 George Street
ANZ Bank, 553 - 555 George Street
National Australia Bank, 340-346 George Street
National Australia Bank (former), 343 George Street
National Australia Bank, 661-663 George Street
Westpac Bank, 341 George Street
Westpac Bank, 671-675 George Street
Westpac Bank, 824-826 George Street
Westpac Bank (former), 319-321 George Street
Current use: Bank
Former use: Bank


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, )

The subject land, on the east side of George Street opposite the original Barracks Square had been built upon from the early days of the colony. Originally the Bank of Australasia's site was on two distinct titles. The two titles were converted to a single title at the beginning of 1904.
The new building for the Bank of Australasia was designed by Edward E Raht, an architect from New York who arrived in Australia in July 1891.

The Equitable Life Assurance Society had sent out from America their distinguished New York architect, Edward Raht (born in Austria). Raht was noted for his commissions to design prestige buildings for insurance companies and banks.

Raht designed both the adjacent Equitable Life Assurance Building, 348-352 George Street, and the Bank of Australasia building around a steel frame, faced with heavy, load-bearing trachyte in the Federation Romanesque style. The trachyte came from the Bowral quarries on Mount Gibraltar owned by the contractors Loveridge and Hudson. These buildings are exceptional for their use of trachyte for the entire exterior and not merely for lower stories, arches and columns. They are the first buildings to be constructed with external walls entirely of trachyte, which was more commonly used as a decorative stone in combination with sandstone and granite. Erected in 1904, the ANZ Bank was an early example in Australia of the influence of the American Romanesque style developed by Raht's countryman, Henry Hobson Richardson, from the 1870s onward. After studying in Paris, Richardson had evolved his own simplified distillation of the Romanesque style and attracted numerous American disciples. Raht also designed offices for the Equitable Life Assurance Society of the United States of America in Melbourne in 1892, using the same steel frame and thick stone walls (in this case granite).

Apart from bringing contemporary American architectural trends to Australia, Raht was influential in that he initiated a trend that made great use of the building stone trachyte in commercial and public buildings over the next forty years.

The building was officially opened on 11 February 1904 and occupied by the Bank during the following March. Included amongst the distinctive features of the banking chamber were light fixtures attached to the lower portions of the columns in the centre of the pace, patterned interlocking rubber flooring and a narrow gallery at the eastern end of the building. A circular window pierced the upper part of the wall at this end of the chamber. Counters were placed along the southern side of the chamber, and marble partitioned offices ran along its northern side. The tall windows providing light from the street frontages were protected externally by finely wrought metal grilles. What appear to be the first alterations to the building were documented in 1936, to the design of the architectural firm A&K Henderson of Melbourne. By 1940 the building was known as Australasia Chambers and contained bank offices and professional rooms. In 1947 minor alterations were carried out to the ground floor banking chamber and a couple of years later a partition was in the roof level lift lobby. In 1961 it was one of two chief Sydney Offices and the New South Wales Divisional Office of the Australian and New Zealand Bank.

Architects Joseland and Gilling were responsible for several of the later modifications to the building. The ownership of 2 Martin Place was transferred to Tenzon Pty. Ltd. On 26 August 1980 then several days later to the United Permanent Building Society, on 8 September 1980, who made application to the City of Sydney Council to have minor works carried out. The building was officially re-opened on 24 March 1982. In October 1984 ownership passed to the Government Insurance Office, which then leased the mezzanine, ground floor and basement levels to the United Permanent Building Society for a period of four years.

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 Banking-

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
2 Martin Place has important associations with the Bank of Australasia, an influential and durable financial institution that played a prominent part in the economic history of Australia during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, and which continues to do so today in the guise of the ANZ Banking Group.
SHR Criteria b)
[Associative significance]
2 Martin Place is an important work by the notable architect Edward Raht, who as chief architect for the Equitable Life Assurance Society of the USA designing the Equitable Life Buildings in Sydney and Melbourne, credited with introducing the neo-Romanesque architecture which led to the Federation Warehouse style. It is a rare example of an early twentieth century building in NSW designed by an American architect who was responsible for the introduction of refined stone detailing in trachyte subsequently popular in dimension stone treatment in the early twentieth century.
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
2 Martin Place has technical significance due to intact fabric that demonstrates past building techniques and technology. The building contains rare examples of early services including: the pair of birdcage lift cars located in a shaft surrounded by a steel stair; marble lined lavatories within the upper basement; the marble lined ceiling above the ground floor lobby; the vaulted ceilings lined with glazed bricks (possibly part of 1937 works) and security vaulted spaces including heavy steel bars, locks and doors located in the lower basement.
SHR Criteria d)
[Social significance]
The building does not demonstrate a strong or special association with a particular community or cultural group in NSW of social, cultural or spiritual reasons.
SHR Criteria e)
[Research potential]
It is a rare and relatively intact example of a Federation Romanesque style bank building in Sydney. It features exceptionally fine stone detailing and rare wrought iron metal grilles protecting windows at ground level.
SHR Criteria f)
Martin Place contains a group of banks with large and richly detailed purpose-designed banking chambers. 2 Martin Place is a scarce example in Sydney of a turn of the century bank, containing one of the finest banking chambers surviving in the City. It is rare at State level.
SHR Criteria g)
The building is an important contribution to Martin Place and George Street, having strong visual relationship with the General Post Office, former Equitable Building and other major nineteenth and twentieth century office buildings in this locality.
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.

Procedures /Exemptions

Section of actDescriptionTitleCommentsAction date
57(2)Exemption to allow workHeritage Act Record converted from HIS events
Order Under Section 57(2) to exempt the following activities from Section 57(1):
*change of use;
*strata subdivision;
*maintenance of any item (building, works, relics or places) on the iste, where maintenance means the continuous protective care of existing fabric.
*Minor repairs where minor repair means the repair of materials and includes replacement of minor components such as individual bricks, where these have been damaged beyond reasonable repair or are missing. Replacements should be of the same materials, colour, texture, form and design as the original it replaces.
*Alterations to the interior of a building which are of a minor nature and will not adversely affect the significance of the building as an item of the environmental heritage.
Apr 6 1990
57(2)Exemption to allow workStandard Exemptions SCHEDULE OF STANDARD EXEMPTIONS
Notice of Order Under Section 57 (2) of the Heritage Act 1977

I, the Minister for Planning, pursuant to subsection 57(2) of the Heritage Act 1977, on the recommendation of the Heritage Council of New South Wales, do by this Order:

1. revoke the Schedule of Exemptions to subsection 57(1) of the Heritage Act made under subsection 57(2) and published in the Government Gazette on 22 February 2008; and

2. grant standard exemptions from subsection 57(1) of the Heritage Act 1977, described in the Schedule attached.

Minister for Planning
Sydney, 11 July 2008

To view the schedule click on the Standard Exemptions for Works Requiring Heritage Council Approval link below.
Sep 5 2008

PDF Standard exemptions for works requiring Heritage Council approval


Heritage ListingListing TitleListing NumberGazette DateGazette NumberGazette Page
Heritage Act - State Heritage Register 0008502 Apr 99 271546
Heritage Act - Permanent Conservation Order - former 0008505 Sep 86 1394366
Register of the National Estate  28 Sep 82   

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
WrittenRoyal Australian Institute of Architects (NSW) Heritage Committee2008State Heritage Register Nomination Form

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: Heritage Office
Database number: 5044987
File number: 10/04561

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