Waimea House | NSW Environment & Heritage

Culture and heritage

Heritage

Waimea House

Item details

Name of item: Waimea House
Other name/s: Helen Keller House
Type of item: Built
Group/Collection: Residential buildings (private)
Category: House
Location: Lat: -33.8884797908 Long: 151.2412680800
Primary address: Waimea Avenue, Woollahra, NSW 2025
Parish: Alexandria
County: Cumberland
Local govt. area: Woollahra
Local Aboriginal Land Council: La Perouse
Property description
Lot/Volume CodeLot/Volume NumberSection NumberPlan/Folio CodePlan/Folio Number
LOT100 DP828991
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
Waimea AvenueWoollahraWoollahraAlexandriaCumberlandPrimary Address

Owner/s

Organisation NameOwner CategoryDate Ownership Updated
Park Investments Pty LtdPrivate25 Mar 99

Description

Construction years: 1858-
Physical description: Setting:
The house forms a pleasing termination to the important Victorian landscape vista of Waimea Avenue (AHC,1978 (Waimea Avenue Group)). It is the key building within this precinct and is the focus of a number of arresting vistas from the surrounding precinct (Simpson, 1983, 19).

Waimea Avenue comprises a group of Picturesque Gothic style Victorian terraces (1-11, 2-12) planned c1900 with good scale and picturesque detail that have an appropriate axial relationship to the early Victorian house at its southern end, Waimea.

It is also still spatially related to other Victorian terraces in Woods Avenue on the east side of the street at the rear of Waimea (Simpson, 1983, 19).

Site:
The parcel of land on which Waimea stands has frontage to Waimea Avenue (Simpson, 1983, 5).

Garden:
Waimea is surrounded on three sides (west, north, east) with garden. Golden Monterey cypresses (Hesperocyparis macrocarpa 'Aurea' form a shelter belt along its northern boundary, and other trees and shrubs are arrayed around the house, along with lawns (Stuart Read, pers.comm., 5/12/2016).

House:
Waimea is a two storey sandstone late Georgian dwelling built in 1858. It has lost most of its fittings, only the basic stone walls, roof structure and chimneys remaining (Simpson, 1983). It originally contained 12 rooms (ibid, 19).

A good example of a late Georgian Revival two storey sandstone house, of symmetrical design with of symmetrical design with an elegant cast iron columned verandah to three sides. Sheeted iron roof (AHC, 1978).

Waimea house is a good example of Victorian human scale civic design which reflects an earlier historic building in visual terms (AHC, 1978).

Elegant cast-iron columned verandah to three sides sheeted with curved iron, the main roof original slate, windows were either six pane Georgian D.H. sash type or two panel French window type, all shuttered. Doors were eight or four panels with retangular transom panels while internal joinery was standard polished cedar and imported marble chimney pieces (NTA, 1976).
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
The building has lost most of its 'fittings', only the basic stone walls, roof structure and chimneys remaining. It is common ground that these are structurally stable and capable of restoration in accordance with available documentary evidence (Simpson, 1983, 5).
Date condition updated:30 Apr 13
Modifications and dates: c1900 subdivision to create Waimea Avenue, with small terrace housing.
Two sandstone gateposts located at Wallis Street on either side of the corner of Woods Avenue may relate to the former Waimea estate possibly formed part of the estate of Waimea House. The gate posts are at the rear of Waimea [Libby Maher](LEP, 1995).
Current use: residence
Former use: residence, offices

History

Historical notes: Waimea formed part of the original grant to Captain John Piper in 1820, who later sold to Daniel Cooper and Solomon Levey in 1830 (LEP, 1995). Cooper & Levey's land holding was massive and they ran a renowned mercantile firm in early Sydney. The land then passed into the hands of Sir Daniel Cooper, the first Speaker of the Legislative Assembly of NSW and the builder of 'Woollahra House' on Point Piper. The foundation stone of Woollahra House was laid by Governor Denison in 1856 and in the same year Cooper leased the land on which Waimea House was to be built by Thomas Bosden, who, according to Sands Directory, operated as a broker in Castlereagh and Ocean Streets (Simpson, 1983, 19).

Bowden built a late Georgian Revival style house c1858 on this part of the Daniel Cooper estates.

A famous tenant was Captain Robert Deane RN, a founder of the RAN House and a director of early shale oil mining companies and the Illawarra Shipping Company. Deane died in 1893.

Waimea Avenue was a subdivision of Waimea estate, where a group of Victorian terraces (1-11, 9-14) was planned and built with good scale and picturesque detail (AHC, 1978). They group of seven terraces was built c.1900 in Victorian (Picturesque) Gothic style on the west side of the street, being a mirror image of other terraces on the opposite side (NTA, 1976). These have an appropriate axial relationship to the early Waimea house at its southern end, which forms a pleasing termination to this important landscape vista (AHC, (Waimea Avenue Group)
(AHC, 1978).

The property was later leased to John Wood for 56 years until purchased by the Royal Blind Society (NTA, 1976). In 1949 the house was opened by the then Governor of NSW, Sir John Northcott as the Helen Keller Hostel for Blind Women. The foundation stone to the hostel additions was laid by Helen Keller on 24/4/1948. The hostel was operated by the Royal Blind Society until it was sold in 1973. It March 1973 the RBS withdrew an application it had lodged with Woollahra Council to demolish the house and later actually attempted to demolish it. Local residents alerted the Builders' Labourer's Federation, which placed a 'Green Ban' on the site and subsequently the RBS altered its plans and instead put the property on the market. It was purchased in 1978 by Park Investments P/L (Simpson, 1983, 18).

ICO no. 37 was made in respect of the Waimea precinct on 24/8/1979. The order was gazetted over the subject precinct for the following reasons: a) Waimea House forms the nucleus of the precinct, being the most important element in the townscape, and historically provides a reference for the later subdivision pattern that evolved; b) the precinct contains a unique collection of 19th and early 20th century buildings of high architectural quality. C) Waimea and Woods Avenues and The Grove are good examples of Victorian human-scale civic design which respect in visual terms Waimea House; d) the precinct has been subject to much citizen response in both the threat of demolition to Waimea House itself and in terms of the high investment in the buildings made by individual owners.

None of the houses in the precinct have been demolished and most have been restored, which illustrates the social and economic recognition given to the area.

The subject building and the precinct have received continuous heritage recognition from Woollahra Municipal Council, the National Trust of Australia (NSW), the Queen Street and West Woollahra Association and the Heritage Council of NSW.

The Council has had continuing negotiations with various owners for the sympathetic redevelopment of the site. It was only through the action taken by the Builders' Labourers' Federation with the imposition of a 'Green Ban' that total demolition was halted on 13/3/1973. The National Trust (NSW) subsequently listed all buildings in the precinct. Woollahra Council adopted the Woollahra Western Zone Area Action Plan on 28/4/1980 adopted the same general approach to this area as it takes in Paddington Conservation Area. Council subsequently supported conservation objectives for this precinct by reducing the density of potential development for the area in the proposed LEP for West Woollahra and including the lower density proposal in a proposed Conservation Area boundary in the same proposed LEP, which was submitted to the Department of Planning. It was expected that the LEP would be certified (gazetted) before the ICO on the precinct expired and that Woollahra Council would be the responsible authority for the precinct. In light of delays with gazetting the LEP, the Heritage Council of NSW resolved to take action under section 36 of the Heritage Act 1977 to place a permanent conservation order on Waimea House individually, due to its particular heritage significance and state of repair (Simpson, 1983, 17, slightly abridged).

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 Gardens and landscapes reminiscent of an 'old country'-
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. Residential-
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. Adapted heritage building or structure-
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. Gentlemens Villas-
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. A Picturesque Residential Suburb-
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 1820s-1850s land grants-
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 Sub-division of large 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 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 Gentlemens Villas-
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 Persons-Activities of, and associations with, identifiable individuals, families and communal groups Associations with Daniel Cooper, emancipist merchant-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Persons-Activities of, and associations with, identifiable individuals, families and communal groups Associations with Thomas Bower, gentleman-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Persons-Activities of, and associations with, identifiable individuals, families and communal groups Associations with Captain Robert Deane RN, Founder of RAN House-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Persons-Activities of, and associations with, identifiable individuals, families and communal groups Associations with Helen Keller, famous blind person-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Persons-Activities of, and associations with, identifiable individuals, families and communal groups Associations with the Royal Blind Society/for the Blind-

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 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 0022602 Apr 99 271546
Heritage Act - Permanent Conservation Order - former 0022610 Jun 83 822605
Local Environmental PlanHelen Keller House (formerly Waimea)10/3/199525 Jan 13   
National Trust of Australia register Waimea & Grounds, Trees (Waimea Avenue Group)788712 Jan 76   
Register of the National Estate 1025921 Mar 78   

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
WrittenSimpson, Edward (Commissioners of Inquiry)1983An Inquiry Pursuant to Section 41 - "Waimea", Waimea Avenue, Woollahra

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: 5045527
File number: EF14/5920; S90/5485; HC32141


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