Pitt Street Uniting Church | NSW Environment, Energy and Science

Culture and heritage

Heritage

Pitt Street Uniting Church

Item details

Name of item: Pitt Street Uniting Church
Other name/s: Pitt Street Congregational Church
Type of item: Built
Group/Collection: Religion
Category: Church
Location: Lat: -33.8735435415 Long: 151.2084051980
Primary address: 264 Pitt Street, Sydney, NSW 2000
Parish: St Lawrence
County: Cumberland
Local govt. area: Sydney
Local Aboriginal Land Council: Metropolitan
Property description
Lot/Volume CodeLot/Volume NumberSection NumberPlan/Folio CodePlan/Folio Number
LOT1 DP80969
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
264 Pitt StreetSydneySydneySt LawrenceCumberlandPrimary Address
264A Pitt StreetSydneySydneySt LawrenceCumberlandAlternate Address

Owner/s

Organisation NameOwner CategoryDate Ownership Updated
Uniting Church in Australia, TheReligious Organisation03 May 99

Statement of significance:

The Pitt Street Uniting Church has had a significant role in the development of the social and religious life of Australia. It has always represented a pioneering and socially aware face to the community. It architectural design is significant as arguably the finest example of Neo Classicism in Australia. It is a fine example of notable architect John Bibb's work. It was the first Independant Church in Australia. It has associations with notable local figures, including David Jones and James Fairfax.
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: John Bibb (original church); GA Mansfield 1867 extension, front facade remodelling)
Construction years: 1841-1846
Physical description: The exterior of the church is a fine example of the late Georgian Classical design. Standing two storeys high, the sandstone facade to Pitt Street is symmetrical, with monumental ionic columns supporting a ballustraded parapet. Columns flank the pedimented windows and central door on the ground floor with windows lighting the galleries above. Access to the building is via a shallow flight of stairs and narrow podium. The remaining walls are of brick. Galleries supported on cast iron fluted columns, run around the interior walls. The central pulpit and platform are approached by twin cast iron railed stairs. All the fittings are of local cedar (National Trust of Australia (NSW), 1977).
Modifications and dates: 1857 - organ gallery and vestries added
1867 - new central pulpit and platform installed. Architect G.A. Mansfield added c.25' to north side and remodelled the front facade in this same year.
Current use: Church
Former use: Aboriginal land, church

History

Historical notes: The original church was designed by John Bibb and built on the southern half of the present site between 1841 and 1846 (Laurie and Heath 1971). Prior to its construction, the Congregationalists of colonial Sydeny met in a building called the Independant Chapel, located on the western side of Pitt Street between Market and Park Street. This was opened as a place of public worship in 1833, but the rapidly growing congregation soon neccessitated the erection of a larger building. The foundation stone was laid in 1841, but economic recession meant it wasn't completed until 1846. (Stapleton 1983)

The Church took its present form in 1867 after extensive remodelling by architect George Allen Mansfield. This included the extension of the sandstone facade and the enlargement of the original iron pallisade fence as well as significant changes to the interior. (Stapleton 1983)

There have been several attempts to demolish the building. Restoration work was carried out in the early 1980s with a grant from the Heritage Council of New South Wales and again in 1989 and 1996.

Historic themes

Australian theme (abbrev)New South Wales themeLocal theme
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 Significant Places How are significant places marked in the landscape by, or for, different groups-Monuments and Sites
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 (none)-
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 Macquarie's town layout-
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 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 urban settings-
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 Georgian Revival-
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. Adaptation of overseas design for local use-
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 Academic Classical-
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 - Georgian revival-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Leisure-Activities associated with recreation and relaxation Visiting heritage places-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Leisure-Activities associated with recreation and relaxation Gathering at landmark places to socialise-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Religion-Activities associated with particular systems of faith and worship Religious worship-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Religion-Activities associated with particular systems of faith and worship Church-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Religion-Activities associated with particular systems of faith and worship Practising Presbyterianism-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Religion-Activities associated with particular systems of faith and worship Practising protestant unity-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Social institutions-Activities and organisational arrangements for the provision of social activities Places of formal community gatherings-
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-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Persons-Activities of, and associations with, identifiable individuals, families and communal groups Associations with John Bibb, architect-

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
The Church was originally designed by John Bibb, who is well kown for his association with the design of Elizabeth Bay House, Camden House, the Sydney Infermary, The Mariner's Church for Seamen and St James Grammar School. (Laurie and Heath 1971)

Memorials to notable figures including David Jones and James Fairfax can be found within the Church (Page 1977).

The Pitt Street Church is known as the Mother Church of Congregationalism in mainland Australia. It was the first Independant Church in Australia. The Church was strongly involved in local issues and supported the social and liberal traditions of the nineteenth century. It was responsible for setting up one of the first city missions. (Lucas 1978)
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
The monumental Neo Classic design is the best of its kind in Australia (National Trust 1977; Lucas 1988).

The organ within the church is the most substantial and significant organ from the Edwardian decade, surviving in New South Wales. Apart from the instrument in the Sydney Town Hall, this is the only Hill and Son organ with tubular-pneumatic action surviving in Australia. (Stiller 1983)
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 workHeritage Act Record converted from HIS events. Refer to standard exemptions gazetted 23 October 1998.

Order Under Section 57(2) to exempt the following activities from Section 57(1):
a): The maintenance of any item (buildings, works, relics or places) the site where maintenance means the continuous protective care of existing fabric.

B) Minor repairs where minor repair means the repair of materials and includes replacements of minor components such as individual bricks where these have been damaged beyond reasonable repair or are missing. Replacement should be of the same materials, colour, texture, form and design as the original it replaces.
Jan 11 2002
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

PDF Standard exemptions for works requiring Heritage Council approval

Listings

Heritage ListingListing TitleListing NumberGazette DateGazette NumberGazette Page
Heritage Act - State Heritage Register 0002202 Apr 99 271546
Heritage Act - Permanent Conservation Order - former 0002214 Dec 79 1786349
Local Environmental PlanCSH LEP 4 07 Apr 00   
Register of the National Estate  21 Oct 80   

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
WrittenClive Lucas1978'Architectural Statement' in McConnel, Smith and Johnson Pty Ltd (1988), Conservation Report: Pitt Street Uniting Church volume II
WrittenIan Stapleton1983'Notes on the History of the Pitt Street Church Buildings' in McConnell et. al. (1988), Conservation Report: Pitt Street Uniting Church volume II
WrittenJohn Stiller1983Detailed Documentation of Pipe Organ Built by W.Hill and Son 1910
WrittenLaurie and Heath Pty. Ltd.1971'Historical Appreciation: Pitt Street Congregational Church' in McConnell et. al. (1988), Conservation Report: Pitt Street Uniting Church volume II
WrittenMcConnel, Smith and Johnson Pty Ltd1988 Conservation Report: Pitt Street Uniting Church
WrittenT. Hyde Page1977Pitt Street Congregational Church: National Trust Listing Card

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: 5045476
File number: S90/06150 & HC 32124


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