Public Trust Office | NSW Environment, Energy and Science

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Public Trust Office

Item details

Name of item: Public Trust Office
Other name/s: Rofe Chambers, Public Trustee
Type of item: Built
Group/Collection: Government and Administration
Category: Office building
Location: Lat: -33.8650896032 Long: 151.2093447480
Primary address: 19-21 O'Connell 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 DP131917
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
19-21 O'Connell StreetSydneySydneySt JamesCumberlandPrimary Address

Owner/s

Organisation NameOwner CategoryDate Ownership Updated
NSW Trustee and Guardian - Communities and JusticeState Government26 Oct 98

Statement of significance:

The building is associated with the historical development of the Public Trustee in NSW. It is of social significance because of its association with the management of estates of deceased persons. It is the first office building purchased especially to accommodate the Public Trustee and is still being used as Head Office of the organisation. The building façade contributes to the streetscape character established by former bank of New South Wales building on the corner of Hunter and Pitt Streets. It is a good example of the Inter-War Free Classical style of architecture designed by the well known architects Ross & Rowe.
Date significance updated: 23 Nov 00
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: Ross & Rowe
Construction years: 1926-
Physical description: Public Trust Building is of the Inter-War Free Classical style. The building consists of eight storeys above a basement level. The sandstone faade fronting O'Connell Street is symmetrical, with three round arches of two storey high (ground and first floors), and unconventional order of architecture with attenuated pilasters spanning between the third and seventh floors. The second and seventh floor levels each consists of three bays of windows. The parapet is enriched with classical stone cornices and decorative embellishments. The inter-war period of this classical building is emphasised by its large metal framed windows and spandrel panels.

Initially the building has been substantially refurbished in the early 1970s and in the late 1980s.
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
Physical condition is good.
Date condition updated:23 Nov 00
Modifications and dates: In 1967 alterations was carried out to the ground floor. In 1971, the building underwent major refurbishment which substantially removed the original interiors and left only the facade of the building intact. Further internal refurbishment was carried out in 1989.
Current use: Government administration
Former use: Aboriginal land, town lot, legal chambers

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 ).

Rofe Chambers:
Public Trust building was originally built as Rofe chambers for the legal firm Alfred Rofe & Sons. It was designed by architects Ross & Rowe architects circa 1920s. In 1941, there was an urgency to find new office accommodation for the Public Trustee, and Rofe Chambers was acquired by the State Government for the purpose. The Public Trust Building was officially opened by the premier, William McKell on 2 March 1942. The total cost of acquisition, alterations, and fitouts of the new offices, as certified by the Public Works Department in 1946, was 125,764/15/3 pounds.

In 1967 alterations was carried out to the ground floor. In 1971, the building underwent major refurbishment which substantially removed the original interiors and left only the faade of the building intact. Further internal refurbishment was carried out in 1989.

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 Developing Commercial Enterprise-
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Commerce-Activities relating to buying, selling and exchanging goods and services Developing real estate-
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 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 Subdivision of urban estates-
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-
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-
7. Governing-Governing Government and Administration-Activities associated with the governance of local areas, regions, the State and the nation, and the administration of public programs - includes both principled and corrupt activities. (none)-
7. Governing-Governing Government and Administration-Activities associated with the governance of local areas, regions, the State and the nation, and the administration of public programs - includes both principled and corrupt activities. State government-
7. Governing-Governing Government and Administration-Activities associated with the governance of local areas, regions, the State and the nation, and the administration of public programs - includes both principled and corrupt activities. Developing roles for government - administration of land-
7. Governing-Governing Government and Administration-Activities associated with the governance of local areas, regions, the State and the nation, and the administration of public programs - includes both principled and corrupt activities. Providing public offices and buildings-
7. Governing-Governing Welfare-Activities and process associated with the provision of social services by the state or philanthropic organisations Welfare-Includes charitable and self-help institutions.
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Birth and Death-Activities associated with the initial stages of human life and the bearing of children, and with the final stages of human life and disposal of the dead. Managing the estates of deceased persons-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Persons-Activities of, and associations with, identifiable individuals, families and communal groups Associations with the Hon. William McKell, Premier-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Persons-Activities of, and associations with, identifiable individuals, families and communal groups Associations with Alfred Rofe and Sons, lawyers-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Persons-Activities of, and associations with, identifiable individuals, families and communal groups Associations with Ross and Rowe, architects-

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria d)
[Social significance]
It is of social significance because of its association with the management of estates of deceased persons. It is the first office building purchased especially to accommodate the Public Trustee and is still being used as Head Office of the organisation.
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:

Recommendations

Management CategoryDescriptionDate Updated
Recommended ManagementProduce a Conservation Management Plan (CMP) 
Recommended ManagementPrepare a maintenance schedule or guidelines 
Recommended ManagementCarry out interpretation, promotion and/or education 

Procedures /Exemptions

Section of actDescriptionTitleCommentsAction date
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 0101902 Apr 99 271546
Heritage Act - s.130 Order - Lapsed  23 Sep 90 1158527
Heritage Act - s.170 NSW State agency heritage register     
Local Environmental PlanCSH Local Environmental Plan 4 07 Apr 00   

Study details

TitleYearNumberAuthorInspected byGuidelines used
Public Trustee NSW Section 170 Register19961State Projects Heritage Group  No
Public Trustee NSW Section 170 Register1996 State Projects Heritage Group  No

References, internet links & images

None

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: 5045104
File number: S96/00611/001


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