Perpetual Trustee Company | NSW Environment, Energy and Science

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Perpetual Trustee Company

Item details

Name of item: Perpetual Trustee Company
Type of item: Built
Location: Lat: -33.8662815974 Long: 151.2094205740
Primary address: 33-39 Hunter 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 DP187361
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
33-39 Hunter StreetSydneySydneySt JamesCumberlandPrimary Address

Statement of significance:

The Perpetual Trustee Company Building is of state significance by virtue of its historic, social, architectural, aesthetic and scientific values. The building's construction marked the success of a new form of commercial venture. This success was a reflection of the emerging and complex nature of mid-Victorian society. The fact that the building is still used by its original occupier underscores both the significance of the enterprise and its continuing relevance today.

This building is Hunter Street's sole surviving Edwardian building and displays characteristics of its time. It embodies Edwardian architectural and construction techniques with respect to multi-storey office buildings and has the ability to inform research in this area. Internally the normal cycles of refurbishment has generally negated the ability to demonstrate anything more than current work place practices with the exception of the generally intact Board Room to Level One and the facings to the main access stairway. (Jackson Teece et.al. 1996: 88)
Date significance updated: 01 Oct 97
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

Designer/Maker: Robertson and Marks, Architects.
Builder/Maker: Messrs Walter Gawne and Sons.
Construction years: 1914-1916
Physical description: The Perpetual Trustee Company Building comprises 1 ground level, 7 upper levels and a basement. With the exception of lightwells to the sides, covers the complete area of the site. The overall style of the building is Edwardian 'Grand Manner' which is characterised in the building by Baroque inspired columns, mansard roof form embellished with dormer windows and dominant overhanging cornice supported on brackets.

THE BASE - is bounded at the top by a large cornice at the level 2 window sill and at the bottom by courses of rusticated trachyte. The base is articulated by a screen of giant order trachyte columns. Flanking both sides of this screen are bays of smooth rusticated stonework which extends vertically to level 7.

THE SHAFT - springs from the level 2 cornice and terminates at the metal cornice between Level 6 and 7. The shaft's plain appearance is modulated by the presence of a string course at the Level 2 ceiling height and flanking the east and west bays of smooth faced rusticated stonework.

Recessed panels between the windows and heavily detailed stonework further define the area between the Level 2 cornice and string course. The section of facade between the vertical bays is punctured by 5 window openings per floor and is relatively plain with relief being provided by simple projecting window sill blocks and stone cavity vents. The vertical bays are characterised by one large window and a simply designed spandrel block.

THE CAPITAL - Dominated by a 2 storey mansard, this section of the facade provides a terminating form to the building. The Level 6 cornice spans the middle vertical bay and is bounded by extensions of the side bays which finish as pediments. The cornice is fabricated from high quality pressed copper sheet and projects forward the face of the facade by approximately 1000mm. It is supported by double brackets in mid span and single brackets at the ends. The brackets are copper clad and are decorated with classical motifs such as garlands and female heads.
(Jackson Teece et.al. 1996: 40-41)
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
Archaeological Potential - Low
Physical Condition - Good
Date condition updated:01 Oct 97
Modifications and dates: c.1938 - Flat roof space at rear of building converted into additional office space and rear stair modified for installation of lift service.
1959 - Major changes to original stonework involving the removal of the balcony and carved pediment associated with the main entry door. Radical refit of internal spaces.
1970 - Major conservation of stonework, includingtotal repointing, rubbing back and indenting where required.
1973 - Awning added.
1981 - New entrance and partitions.
(Jackson Teece et.al. 1996:22,48 & Appendix 2)
Current use: Offices
Former use: Aboriginal land, town lot

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. 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 (sourced from Anita Heiss, "Aboriginal People and Place", Barani: Indigenous History of Sydney City http://www.cityofsydney.nsw.gov.au/barani ).

Perpetual Trustee Company:
The Perpetual Trustee Executor and Agency Company Limited was set up in 1885. An attempt at incorporation failed on the grounds that the company did not have enough capital for security. Following this failure, the company was dissolved in 1886 and the Perpetual Trustee Company was formed with a base of 1 000 000 pounds. Application for incorporation passed through State Parliament in June 1888. The Company became one of the first trustee companies to be established in Australia and took place at a time of complex development in the commercial economy.

The site of the Perpetual Trustee Company building was part of a town grant made to William Henry Roberts on 4 July 1837. The property changed hands numerous times and was subdivided into two lots in 1881 before the Perpetual Trustee Company Limited gained freehold possession of the subdivision on the corner of Hunter and Castlreagh Streets in June 1913. Previous owners included: Elizabeth Catherine, Countess of Carnarvon; the Right Honourable Henry John Earl of Dill; and Edward Stafford Howard; all of England, in the 1880s. The intent of the company in purchasing the site was the erection of a new office building to house their own operations together with additional space for leasing.

The building was designed by Robertson and Marks, Architects, and was constructed between 1914 and 1916 by general contractors Messrs Walter Gawne and Sons. Several aspects of the work were contracted out to sub-contractors. In 1916 the building was opened after some unspecified delays. At the time the new building was the dominant development on the southern side of Hunter Street between Pitt and Castlereagh Streets and replaced what was probably one of the last Georgian era buildings to be removed from Hunter Street.

Between 1917 and 1933 The Perpetual Trustee Company Limited occupied the Ground, First and Seventh floors. In 1936 they occupied the Second, Third and Fourth floors. In 1938 Robertson and Marks applied for approval to convert the then flat roof space to the rear of the building into additional office space and to modify the rear stair for the installation of a lift service. Work carried out in 1959 to remodel the original Hunter Street entry, radically refit internal spaces and to partly infill 2 of the lightwells resulted in loss and damage to, and obscuring of major portions of original internal fabric.

Further work was carried out after 1959 and the building's setting was drastically altered by the construction boom of the 1960s. The adjoining 22 and 24 storey buildings, have since reversed the dominant qualities of the Perpetual Trustee Company building. In 1988 the most recent, reasonably major internal fitout took place, obscuring much of the 1959 work to the entry vestibule.

The Perpetual Trustee Company continues to reside in the building in Hunter Street.
(Jackson Teece et.al. 1996: 6, 15-36)

Historic themes

Australian theme (abbrev)New South Wales themeLocal theme
1. Environment-Tracing the evolution of a continent's special environments Environment - naturally evolved-Activities associated with the physical surroundings that support human life and influence or shape human cultures. Changing the environment-
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Commerce-Activities relating to buying, selling and exchanging goods and services (none)-
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Commerce-Activities relating to buying, selling and exchanging goods and services Insurance industry-
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Commerce-Activities relating to buying, selling and exchanging goods and services Office use-
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Environment - cultural landscape-Activities associated with the interactions between humans, human societies and the shaping of their physical surroundings Developing local, regional and national economies-National Theme 3
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Environment - cultural landscape-Activities associated with the interactions between humans, human societies and the shaping of their physical surroundings Landscapes of urban amenity-
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Events-Activities and processes that mark the consequences of natural and cultural occurences Developing local landmarks-
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. Building settlements, towns and cities-National Theme 4
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 Changing land uses - from suburban to urban-
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 Administering and alienating Crown lands-
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 Changing land uses - from rural to suburban-
4. Settlement-Building settlements, towns and cities Towns, suburbs and villages-Activities associated with creating, planning and managing urban functions, landscapes and lifestyles in towns, suburbs and villages 20th century Suburban Developments-
5. Working-Working Labour-Activities associated with work practises and organised and unorganised labour Working in offices-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Persons-Activities of, and associations with, identifiable individuals, families and communal groups Associations with Robertson and Marks, architect firm-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Persons-Activities of, and associations with, identifiable individuals, families and communal groups Associations with Walter Gawne and Sons, builders-

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
The Perpetual Trustee Company Building is historically significant as it is a rare surviving example of a purpose built building (c.1916) which is still occupied by its original occupier. The Perpetual Trustee Company is significant because, when first established in 1888 it was a new type of commercial venture, one which sought to identify a growing community need for an agency to professionally manage deceased estates. This need indicates the emerging complex capitlaistic society which was evolving in the 1880s.

Associated with the company were Sydney notables such as Mr (later Sir) Ian Fairfax, first chairman, and Mr (later Sir) Edmund Barton, who later became Australia's first Prime Minister. The building was constructed to the designs of one of Sydney's longest running firm of architects, Robertson and Marks, architects of many noteworthy buildings. (Jackson Teece et.al. 1996: 86)
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
The Perpetual Trustee Company Building is a fine example of Edwardian Office Architecture and major work by the respected and long established firm of Sydney architects, Robertson and Marks. It is aesthetically significant for its confident classical elevation treatment to Hunter Street, including the rare use of sculptured pediments by the award winning sculpter J.C.Wright. This facade, and the associated side returns, returns display a high level of integrity.

The building is a local landmark as a counterfoil to the surrounding modern developments. The crooked and descending nature of Hunter Street aids the landmark qualities of the building. (Jackson Teece et.al. 1996: 86)
SHR Criteria d)
[Social significance]
The Perpetual Trustee Company is valued by the general community and also by the architectural community. The level of esteem is gauged by the placement of the building on a number of different conservation registers at local, state and federal level. The listing of the building itself is a result of community appreciation of its ability to demonstrate a particular phase of the development of Hunter Street and its inherent aesthetic qualities. (Jackson Teece et.al. 1996: 87)
SHR Criteria e)
[Research potential]
The Perpetual Trustee Company Building is a fine example of Edwardian construction techniques applied to a relatively new type of building, the multi-storeyed office block. The building has the ability to inform understanding of pre-World War I use of masonry (sandstone and brickwork) as cladding/faing to a proprietary 'fire proof' concrete frame structure. This ability is aided by the presence of limited original documentation.

The building's presence on one of Sydney's oldest streets informs comprehension of Hunter Street's development. It is the only surviving Edwardian building in Hunter Street. (Jackson Teece et.al. 1996: 87)
Integrity/Intactness: Internally little original fabric remains except the Board Room to level one and the main access stair. (Jackson Teece et.al. 1996: 86)
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:

Internal refurbishments should be allowed to continue, subject to the maintenance of identified significant elements, and uses compatible with significant qualities of the building should be introduced. (Jackson Teece et.al. 1996: 6 & 106)

Procedures /Exemptions

Section of actDescriptionTitleCommentsAction date
57(2)Exemption to allow workHeritage Act See File For Schedule


Order Under Section 57(2) to exempt the following activities from Section 57(1):
(1) The maintenance of any building or item on the site where maintenance means the continuous protective care of existing material.
Jun 5 1987
57(2)Exemption to allow workHeritage Act Please see amendment gazetted 11/11/88
See File For Schedule


Order Under Section 57(2) to exempt the following activities from Section 57(1): The exclusion of the interior and rear of the building, except for the Hunter Street frontage and side elevation to the east wher exposed, the whole exterior of the roof mansard, the original boardroom in situ, and the original facing materials to the main staircase where remaining.
Aug 26 1988
57(2)Exemption to allow workHeritage Act See File For Schedule


Order Under Section 57(2) to exempt the following activities from Section 57(1):
All work to the interior and rear of the building, except for the Hunter Street frontage and side elevation to the east where exposed, the whole exterior of the roof mansard, the original boardroom in situ, and the original facing materials to the main staircase where remaining.
Nov 3 1989
57(2)Exemption to allow workStandard Exemptions ORDER UNDER SECTION 57(2) OF THE HERITAGE ACT 1977

Standard exemptions for engaging in or carrying out activities / works otherwise prohibited by section 57(1) of the Heritage Act 1977.

I, Donald Harwin, the Special Minister of State 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, effective 1 December 2020:

1. revoke the order made on 11 July 2008 and published on pages 91177 to 9182 of Government Gazette Number 110 of 5 September 2008 and varied by notice published in the Government Gazette on 5 March 2015; and

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

Donald Harwin
Special Minister of State
Signed this 9th Day of November 2020.

To view the standard exemptions for engaging in or carrying out activities / works otherwise prohibited by section 57(1) of the Heritage Act 1977 click on the link below.
Nov 13 2020

PDF Standard exemptions for works requiring Heritage Council approval

Listings

Heritage ListingListing TitleListing NumberGazette DateGazette NumberGazette Page
Heritage Act - State Heritage Register 0067802 Apr 99 271546
Heritage Act - Permanent Conservation Order - former 0067803 Nov 89 1079335
Local Environmental PlanCSH Local Environmental Plan 4 07 Apr 00   
Register of the National Estate  25 Mar 86   

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
WrittenJackson Teece Chesterman Willis Consultants Pty Limited1996Conservation Plan. Perpetual Trustee Company (Limited) Building.

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 NSW
Database number: 5045035
File number: S91/01930 & HC 860164


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