North Sydney Technical High School (former) | NSW Environment & Heritage

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North Sydney Technical High School (former)

Item details

Name of item: North Sydney Technical High School (former)
Other name/s: St Peters Presbyterian School, St. Leonard's Public School, St. Leonard's Superior Public Boys' School, Greenwood Plaza, North Sydney Technical School
Type of item: Complex / Group
Group/Collection: Education
Category: School - State (public)
Location: Lat: -33.8402295919 Long: 151.2074785730
Primary address: 36 Blue Street, North Sydney, NSW 2060
Parish: Willoughby
County: Cumberland
Local govt. area: North Sydney
Local Aboriginal Land Council: Metropolitan
Property description
Lot/Volume CodeLot/Volume NumberSection NumberPlan/Folio CodePlan/Folio Number
LOT1 DP814292
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
36 Blue StreetNorth SydneyNorth SydneyWilloughbyCumberlandPrimary Address

Owner/s

Organisation NameOwner CategoryDate Ownership Updated
Metroplaza Pty LimitedGeneral 

Statement of significance:

The Greenwood Hotel is a rare and unique example of Gothic and Romanesque Revival styles and remains substantially intact from 1908. The earliest wing of the school was built to the design of architect George Mansfield, a prominent architect of the time, and is an exceptional example of his work. The other parts of the building demonstrate the work of another notable 19th century state school Architect William Kemp. The Greenwood Hotel was the first state school erected on the north shore of Port Jackson and was the first technical school on the north shore. The fact that the school was used continuously for educational purposes from 1877 to 1969 is of high significance and has created a strong cultural meaning to people in the area. The sandstone structure is now surrounded by open landscaping and urban development elements and the nearby towers are set away from the Greenwood Hotel. This space has become an important urban precinct for retailers, office workers and locals, and is well utilised as a pedestrian thoroughfare and a place to meet and relax. The two remaining Moreton Bay Fig trees retain the setting of the Greenwood Hotel and the landmark qualities of the area. The sandstone building is a scarcity of architectural type and is relatively intact. The age of the building relates to the predominant fabric of North Sydney and the building fabric itself demonstrates this historical significance. The school and its open setting with fig trees are landmarks of North Sydney and engender a high degree of public esteem in relation to its local and schooling history. (Tropman & Tropman Architects 2008)
Date significance updated: 29 Sep 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.

Description

Designer/Maker: George Allen Mansfield (original); Wm.E.Kemp (1891 extension to north); W.L.Vernon (1900, 1902 addit
Builder/Maker: Mr W Jago
Construction years: 1876-1911
Physical description: Curtilage boundary:
South: One of the Moreton Bay fig trees (Ficus macrophylla) forming part of the curtilage dominates the Blue Street front of the curtilage, screens the school building from the street. Bus stop shelters further separate the school from Blue Street (ibid, 2008, 23). The Pacific Highway frontage of the site comprises a two storey facade of Greenwood Plaza (which can be accessed directly from the Pacific Highway), with the school behind on a higher level. The northern skylight of the plaza below is at this upper ground level of the school (ibid, 2008, 23).

West: along the edge of the former school, facing Gas Lane the curtilage is about 4 metres into this laneway space (ibid, 2008, 28). On the eastern side of the former school, the curtilage is about 4m east of the school's facade (ibid, 2008, 29). On the northern side of the former school, the northern skylight structure of the Greenwood Plaza below is entirely within the SHR curtilage (ibid, 2008, 29).
Modifications and dates: 1882: addition - separate girls and infants' departments
1890 gas connected, classrooms completed
1891 more land resumed
1892 new building built for extra 180 pupils, extending main building, creating a northern court in 'H' shape (Wm.Kemp)
1893 Girls' Dept. moved to Presbyterian School to make room for more infant classrooms. Windows were cut in these walls and glass partitions installed. New fencing was built, flagging on south side replaced with new stone.
1898 new building to house 100 more boys built

1900 and 1902 - girls' block built.
1908 Vernon-designed alterations including new doors in W wall upstairs, downstairs, blocking up front door, bricking up fire places except southern one, removing fireplace in original wing, replacing with 2 windows; enclosing all verandahs to north into corridor, hat room, teacher's room; new folding partitions throughout, replacing glass, removing S side front verandah, additional outside staircase (WL Vernon)

1911 variations (J.Brown): concrete lintels instead of arches to carry joists; lighter construction, breaking openings in old cavity to ensure exclusion of damp, channelling old walls with two courses to support concrete floors.

1913 additions to Miller St. building for High School to function as demonstration and commercial school.
1914 girls transferred to new Nth.Sydney Girls' High School
1915 boys transferred to North Sydney Boys' High School

1969 school closed and used as an educational resources centre.
1970s vandalism
1989 construction started of retail/commercial complex, with 36 level tower (office/retail), day care centre and parking for 497 cars, including excavating 145000 sq.m. of sandstone around footing of former school building, 'propping up' the school while burrowing underneath and reinforcing its foundations without damaging the structure. Chimneys were steel-rod-reinforced after wind tunnel tests. Shopping plaza built below ground level allowing direct access to adjacent areas such as North Sydney Railway Station, Miller St. and the Pacific Highway (on a lower ground level than the school).
1992 Plaza completed.
Current use: hotel and shopping plaza recreation area
Former use: Aboriginal land, timber-getting land, Presbyterian school, public school, education resource centre

History

Historical notes: Prior to British colonisation in 1788, the lower north shore of Port Jackson (i.e. Terry Hills, Duffys Forest, Narrabeen, Dee Why, Curl Curl, Freshwater, Manly, Middle Cove, Lane Cove, North Sydney and Chatswood) was originally inhabited by the Gai-maraigal people.1 Six major family groups comprised the overall Gai-mariagal clan- the main three being Galmai, the Gatlay and the Gammeray. The land on which the former North Sydney Technical High School stands was occupied by the Gammeray people, recently referred to as Cammeraygal or Cammeraigal. The first fleet officer Collins noted that the Gammeray people were 'a stronger and more virile people than others living around the harbour as they were larger and more numerous:2. Collins also noted that it was the role of the Gammeray during initiation rites to remove the right front tooth of young men from neighbouring groups, a privilege believed now to be a reciprocal obligation with other groups who had ceremonial obligations with the Gammeray people (Tropman & Tropman, 2008, 6).

In April 1789 almost half of Sydney's Indigenous population died of smallpox. In 1790 Governor Phillip noted '...it is seldom that any of them are now seen near the settlement:3 Survivors of the smallpox epidemic regrouped in areas such as Broken Bay, Kissing Point (Ryde), Woolloomooloo, Le Perouse and Botany Bay. This regrouping of ancient clans and families involved social re-organisation and possible merging of dialects and culture. By 1830 records show that apart from a group camping in the government boatsheds west of Circular Quay, few people identified as Aboriginal were living in Sydney (ibid, 2008, 6).

School Site:
The school was originally St Peters Presbyterian School; located on Blues Point Road and part of the Presbyterian Church, but after talks in May 1874 ownership was transferred to the Council of Education as a state school. St Leonards' population was rapidly increasing at this time and the Council of Education recognised the need to establish a new school. So in November 1875 the council purchased 1-1/4 acres of land from Mrs. Isabella Atcheson for (Pounds)1,800.0.0. The land was seen very desirable due to its central location, sufficient space for playgrounds, and its 'fine views of the harbour' (ibid, 2008, 6).

After a year of discussion, plans for the new school were drawn by architect George Allan Mansfield, a leading architect at the time who had built many school buildings throughout Sydney in the 1870's and early 1880's. The plans included construction of a new Gothic Revival stone building to accommodate at least 100 children, adjoining small religious room, and also erection of a new teachers' residence with detached kitchen. The building was contracted to Mr. W. Jago for a period of ten months and was accepted by council February 1876. The school building was built of locally quarried Hawkesbury sandstone with dressed ashlar surround to all openings. The gabled roof featured ornamental bands of hexagonal shaped slates, carved finials, and detailed barge boards. The final cost of the school was (Pounds)4,700 reflecting the building's elaborate stone detailing and its importance to the community. In March 1877 St. Leonard's Public School opened with 320 boys, girls and infants. The building boasted a finely detailed bell tower, which was one of the earliest and most prominent landmarks of the lower North Shore visible from the city (ibid, 2008, 6).

The first addition was in 1882- as attendance had grown to 365; separate Girls' and Infants' departments were necessary. In 1883 the natural rocky grounds were asphalted. In 1884 Nimrod Greenwood was appointed headmaster and two years later the school was renamed St. Leonard's Superior State Public School. Then in 1890 the school was connected with gas, classrooms were completed for (Pounds)896.0.0., and technical classes commenced in shorthand, bookkeeping, drawing and building construction. In 1891 more land was resumed and the following year a new building was erected to enable an extra 180 pupils to be enrolled. This addition extended the main body of the building creating a northern court and complementing the massing as a whole. The resultant plan was broadly an 'H' shape (refer to Fig. 4). The addition was designed by schools architect William E. Kemp and detailing was of consistently high standard throughout with fine stone carving, detailed gable ends, and moulded timber columns and valence boards on the verandahs. By September 1892 there were a total of 820 pupils (ibid, 2008, 7).

In 1893 the Girls' Department was moved to the Presbyterian School to make more room for infant classrooms. To improve natural lighting in these rooms, windows were cut into the walls and glass partitions were installed. In addition to these changes, new fencing was erected, all wood and ironwork was repainted, and the flagging up on the south side beneath the verandah was replaced with new stone. The new buildings were officially opened in April that year by Mr P. Cullen, the chairman of St. Leonard's District school board, and the school was renamed St. Leonard's Superior Public Boys' School (ibid, 2008, 8).

In 1898 another new building was necessary to house 100 more boys. Additional land in Miller Street was purchased in 1900 and two years later a girls' block was built building costing (Pounds)3,300 and enabling the number of girls enrolled to be increased to 450. In 1908 the govemment architect W.L. Vemon was contracted to make some alterations to the school.
. Three new doors in the west wall upstairs
. Two new doors to a wall downstairs
. Original front door built up
. All fireplaces bricked up except the southem fireplace
. Fireplace removed in original wing and replaced with two windows
. All verandahs to the north enclosed to form a corridor, hat room and teacher's room
. New folding partitions throughout the building
. Existing glass replaced with clear glass
. Removal of front verandah (south side) to enable more natural lighting into classrooms . Erection of an additional outside staircase (ibid, 2008, 8).

The following variations were made by John Brown in March 1911:
* Concrete lintels instead of arches to carry joists
. Lighter construction for uniformity
* Breaking openings in old cavity to ensure exclusion of damp
* Channelling old walls with two courses to support concrete floors (ibid, 2008, 9).

The school was renamed to North Sydney Public School in 1910, but it continued to be known unofficially as Greenwood's School after the very popular headmaster. In 1912, seventy two boys and seventy five girls enrolled as intermediate high school students, secondary classes commenced and North Sydney Intermediate High School was formed. The following year additions were made to the Miller Street building enabling North Sydney Junior Technical High school to function there as a demonstration and a commercial school. In 1914 much respected headmaster, Nimrod Greenwood, retired after 30 years service to the children of the district (ibid, 2008, 9).

Shortly after Greenwood's retirement the girls were transferred to the new North Sydney Girls' High School and in 1915 the senior boys were transferred to North Sydney Boys' High School. In 1920 the school was renamed North Sydney Boys' Intermediate High School (ibid, 2008, 9).

In 1936 with an enrolment of 703 pupils, the school was renamed North Sydney and Chatswood Junior High School. From 1943 the school was called North Sydney Technical High school and was home to another respected Headmaster- Mr John Ireland (1948 - 1954). Then in 1969 the school was closed and used as an Educational Resources Centre (ibid, 2008, 16).

Site sale and redevelopment:
During the 1970s the school was neglected by the NSW Education Department and regularly attacked by vandals. In March 1978 the Register of the National Estate listed the school and in 1980 Lend Lease won a tender to lease the site, but failed to win approval from planning authorities to erect a $100 million complex (ibid, 2008, 16).

The fate of the school was unsure until February 1987 when the state government announced the sale of the school and surrounding land. The government consulted North Sydney City Council and outlined that any development conform to the following restrictions:
- the original sandstone school building be retained;
- 60% of the site be kept as open space for a public plaza and setting for the school;
- three mature Moreton Bay fig trees be retained;
- provision for a pedestrian link to North Sydney Railway Station and across the Pacific Highway; and
- commercial office space limited to a floor space ratio of 3.5:1 (ibid, 2008, 16-17).

The Old Lions (the school's old boys' union), North Shore Historical Society and North Sydney City Council disputed the sale as they were concerned about the welfare of the former school. In June 1987 Heritage Minister Bob Carr responded by listing the school and surrounding property under the NSW Heritage Act with a Permanent Conservation Order, insuring the original building and three old Moreton Bay fig trees (Ficus macrophylla) would be conserved (ibid, 2008, 17).

The sale was managed by Raine and Home, North Sydney and tenders closed May 11th 1987. A total of fourteen companies responded and prices started from $33 million. The 1.08 hectare site was bought by Euro-National Properties Ply Ltd and Industrial Equity Ltd for a record $47.1 million. The winning proposal boasted a new 36 level landmark tower with red brown granite and bronze glass facade and polished granite lobby. The $400 million landmark complex would provide 40,000 sq.m. of commercial office space and 8000 sq.m. of retail space, include a day-care centre and parking for 497 cars. The scheme was designed by DGH International Pty Ltd with interior design by the Australian designers Rice Daubney Group. Developer John Tierney and partners Maurice and Tony Green (of The Green Hotel Corporation) were in charge of the restoration and conversion of the former school into a boutique pub/restaurant. Construction started in 1989 by Metroplaza Construction Ltd. (ibid, 2008, 19).

The most challenging aspect was excavating 145,000 square metres of sandstone around the footings of the former school building. This involved literally 'propping the school up' whilst burrowing underneath and reinforcing its foundations without damaging the structure. Wind tunnel tests were also carried out to assess any wind risks from the tower block and as a result all the school's old chimneys were reinforced with steel rods. (Note: It is recommended these be inspected for corrosion and impact on sandstone work.) The construction of the shopping plaza below ground level enabled direct access to adjacent areas such as the North Sydney Train Station, and Miller street and The Pacific Highway (both having a lower ground level than the school)(ibid, 2008, 20).

In November 1991 the project ran into financial difficulties and Industrial Equity Ltd liquidated its $500 million investment into the plaza and changed the contractor to Multiplex. In June 1992 Optus Communications agreed to lease the tower and paid for naming and signage rights to the building giving it a dominant position in the North Sydney Skyline. The change in building contractors paid off and the Plaza was completed ahead of schedule in October 1992. The Mirvac Group bought the site in 1994 (ibid, 2008, 22).

The Kemp-designed two storey brick school buildings facing Miller Street were demolished as part of the tower redevelopment. A 1980 photo (figure 16, ibid, 2008, 14) shows this building still facing Miller Street.

The original school building was adapted for use as a hotel c.1991.

In 1997 approvals were given to construct a childcare centre at the base of the adjacent Optus tower (Branch Report, 10/1997).

In 2017 the leasehold for the Greenwood Hotel was offered for sale by CBRE Hotels, on behalf of freehold owner MIrvac (Cummins, 2017).

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 Retailing-
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 Creating environments evocative of the 'old country'-
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 institutions - productive and ornamental-
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 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 Resuming private lands for public purposes-
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 Suburban Centres-
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 living in the suburbs-
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 Impacts of railways on urban form-
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 Impact of railways on suburban 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 Institutions-
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 Infrastructure-
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 Urban landscapes inspiring creative responses-
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-
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 Role of transport in settlement-
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 Planning relationships between key structures and town plans-
6. Educating-Educating Education-Activities associated with teaching and learning by children and adults, formally and informally. Secondary education-
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. Architectural styles and periods - Victorian Gothic Revival-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Persons-Activities of, and associations with, identifiable individuals, families and communal groups Associations with George Allen Mansfield, architect-

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 workHeritage Act Record converted from HIS event


Order Under Section 57(2) to exempt the following activities from Section 57(1):
(1) The maintenance of any item on the site meaning the continuous protective care of existing materials.
(2) routine garden maintenance including cultivation, pruning and weed control, new minor planting, tree surgery but not extensive lopping;
(3) The demolition and removal of existing single-storey recent school buildings along the northern boundary of the proposed curtilage adjoining the Pacific Highway;
(4) temporary protection of heritage items by means of man-proof fencing.
Jun 19 1987
57(2)Exemption to allow workStandard Exemptions SCHEDULE OF STANDARD EXEMPTIONS
HERITAGE ACT 1977
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.

FRANK SARTOR
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
57(2)Exemption to allow workHeritage Act - Site Specific Exemptions 1.Change of use;
2.Re-alignment of retail areas;
3.The demolition of internal services, fitouts and services to office, retail and commercial areas; and
4.Construction of new internal surfaces, fitouts and services to office, retail and commercial areas.
Dec 12 2008

PDF Standard exemptions for works requiring Heritage Council approval

Listings

Heritage ListingListing TitleListing NumberGazette DateGazette NumberGazette Page
Heritage Act - State Heritage Register 0051702 Apr 99 271546
Heritage Act - Permanent Conservation Order - former 0051719 Jun 87 1073164
Local Environmental PlanNorth Sydney LEP 2012IO89203 Nov 12   
Register of the National Estate  21 Mar 78   

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
WrittenCummins, Caroline2017'Greenwood tests hot pub market',
WrittenDHG International P/L2008Metroplaza: a proposal for the retention and restoration of the existing 'Greenwood' building and 3 mature fig trees, demolition...construction of a 22 level commercial office tower fronting Miller Street, 3 level retail shopping podium and landscaped pla
WrittenSheedy, David P/L1987Former North Sydney Technical High School - Greenwood Building - Conservation and Management Plan
WrittenTropman & Tropman Architects2008Greenwood Retail Plaza, North Sydney - Exemption Report (Conservation Management Strategy)

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 Office
Database number: 5045453
File number: EF14/5076; S90/3327; HC32139


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