Gresham Hotel | NSW Environment, Energy and Science

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Gresham Hotel

Item details

Name of item: Gresham Hotel
Other name/s: Hong Kong House
Type of item: Built
Group/Collection: Commercial
Category: Hotel
Location: Lat: -33.8726147388 Long: 151.2062548020
Primary address: 147-149 York Street, Sydney, NSW 2000
Parish: St Andrew
County: Cumberland
Local govt. area: Sydney
Local Aboriginal Land Council: Metropolitan
Property description
Lot/Volume CodeLot/Volume NumberSection NumberPlan/Folio CodePlan/Folio Number
LOT1 DP60727
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
147-149 York StreetSydneySydneySt AndrewCumberlandPrimary Address
80 Druitt StreetSydneySydneySt AndrewCumberlandAlternate Address

Owner/s

Organisation NameOwner CategoryDate Ownership Updated
The Financial Secretary IncorporatedGeneral 

Statement of significance:

Hong Kong House, formerly the Gresham Hotel and Central Hotel, is situated on a prominent site on the corner of York and Druitt Streets forming part of the Town Hall streetscape. It is a five storey building of Victorian Free Classical Style. The erection of this building as a prestigious hotel in the early 1890s is historically significant in understanding the impact that the building of Centennial Hall and the Queen Victoria Building had on creating a focus for civic pride in Victorian Sydney. It is an important building in the professional career of architect Ambrose Thornley. The building has aesthetic significance as a rare intact original exterior of high quality with outstanding potential due to its successive restorations to continue in its restored state. It is particularly noted for its use of ornate stone decoration. The building is significant for its contribution as a component of the Town Hall Precinct Streetscape. (from SHI record of Hong Kong House)
Date significance updated: 03 Mar 05
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.
Former use: Aboriginal land, town lot, bank and hotel

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

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

Central, later the Gresham Hotel:
In 1888 the Excelsior Land, Building and Investment Co and Bank Ltd held a competition for the design of a hotel and banking premises on this corner of York and Druitt Streets. Twenty-six designs were submitted and the competition was won by architect Ambrose Thornley. His final drawings are dated June 1890 and labelled "Central Hotel". In September 1890 the Australasian Builder and Contractors' News carried an illustration of Thornley's design and a description of the building which was then in course of erection. The magazine explained that the materials used in the building were double-pressed red bricks, with freestone dressings. The central feature of the design was the entrance to the hotel at the corner, "divided up by red granite columns with bronze foliated caps and bases", with massive consoles springing from these "supporting a balconette with balustrades in panels". (from SHI record of Hong Kong House).

The hotel was designed to occupy the whole of the Druitt St frontage and the upper part of the York Street front. The banking premises were to consist of a ground floor banking chamber and a board room above, fronting York Street. The York Street facade incorporated different architectural elements to denote the presence of the banking chamber without making any material alteration in the general front. The Australasian Builder and Contractors' News thought that the new hotel was located on a site which was "fast growing into one of the best positions in the city" and that it would be when completed "one of the best hotels in the city." The second stage of the Sydney Town Hall, called the Centennial Hall, was under construction when the Excelsior land and Building Company held its design competition and plans to re-build the City Council's Queen Victoria Markets were already being considered. (from SHI record of Hong Kong House)

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 Innkeeping-
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Commerce-Activities relating to buying, selling and exchanging goods and services Banking-
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Commerce-Activities relating to buying, selling and exchanging goods and services Developing discrete retail and commercial areas-
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 Townships-
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 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 Towns, suburbs and villages-Activities associated with creating, planning and managing urban functions, landscapes and lifestyles in towns, suburbs and villages Early Sydney Street-
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 19th century suburban developments-
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 Commercial strip development-
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 Creating landmark structures and places in suburban settings-
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 Developing suburbia-
5. Working-Working Labour-Activities associated with work practises and organised and unorganised labour Working in an Inn, Public House, Hotel etc.-
5. Working-Working Labour-Activities associated with work practises and organised and unorganised labour Working in places of public entertainment-
5. Working-Working Labour-Activities associated with work practises and organised and unorganised labour Working in offices-

Procedures /Exemptions

Section of actDescriptionTitleCommentsAction date
57(2)Exemption to allow workHeritage Act

Order Under Section 57(2) to exempt the following activities from Section 57(1):
*change of use;
* maintenance of any item (building, works, relics or places) on the site, 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
21(1)(b)Conservation Plan submitted for endorsementHong Kong House CMP, prepared by Tanner Architects for Hyder Consulting & HK Economic & Trade Office, dated November 2003 CMP endorsed by Heritage Council 6 December 2004 for a period of five years, expires 6 december 2009. Dec 6 2004
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 0029102 Apr 99 271546
Heritage Act - Permanent Conservation Order - former 0029113 Jul 84 1103662
Register of the National Estate  21 Mar 78   

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
Management Plan (HC endorsed)Tanner Architects2004Hong Kong House 147-149 York Street, Sydney : Conservation management plan

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

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(Click on thumbnail for full size image and image details)

Data source

The information for this entry comes from the following source:
Name: Heritage NSW
Database number: 5045069
File number: EF14/5427; S90/5457, HC32763


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