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Sydney Club

Item details

Name of item: Sydney Club
Other name/s: The Sydney Club, Million House
Type of item: Built
Group/Collection: Commercial
Category: Bank
Location: Lat: -33.8683294813 Long: 151.2086252010
Primary address: 122 Pitt 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
LOT2 DP573094
LOT1 DP67172
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
122 Pitt StreetSydneySydneySt JamesCumberlandPrimary Address
122-122A Pitt StreetSydneySydneySt JamesCumberlandAlternate Address

Statement of significance:

The Sydney Club & Million House, formerly the Commercial Bank, is a five storey building comprising a lower three storeys of Victorian Mannerist style which has been sensitively extended. Its proximity to the financial centre of Martin Place and as an adaptation of a former nineteenth century banking premises, this building is historically significant for its demonstration of the role played by clubs like the Millions Club in the political power-broking of the city. The building is aesthetically significant for its well resolved detailing to both its interior and exterior, and is particularly noted for its use of rusticated panels and decorative voussoirs as well as its granite columned entry. The building is significant for its contribution as a landmark building to the Pitt Street streetscape and as an example of club facilities within the City of Sydney. The building is socially significant for the longevity of its occupation by the Millions Club, now the Sydney Club, and for its ability to evoke through its Rowe Street club entrance and coffee shop the former character of this lane.
Date significance updated: 09 Aug 04
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: Mansfield Brothers
Builder/Maker: A & A Scott
Construction years: 1886-1887
Physical description: The Sydney club is a five storey masonry building located in the corner of Pitt and Rowe Street in the central business district of Sydney. The original building was designed by George Allen Mansfield in 1886, in the Victorian Mannerist Style. In 1929 the upper two levels were added by Morrow and Gorden in a sympathetic style. A mezzanine floor has been inserted between the original ground and first floor levels to create seven shops on the ground level and a showroom at the mezzanine level [Jeffery,1998:31].

The Building is constructed of load-bearing masonry walls with some internal timber and steel structural elements. The west and north elevation exhibit a stylish hierarchy of columns and window treatments. The street level facades have been compromised by the introduction of recent shop frontage. The floor is timber and has carpet over it. The roof is flat with a series of plant and service room located over the eastern section. The roof is surrounded by parapet walls. Box gutters are located along the north and south walls. An awning has been added to the building in 1929. Although some original fabric at the basement and ground floor level has been lost as a result of alterations, elements of the main construction phases are evident throughout the building. The building exhibits high level of decoration such as cornices, attached columns, string courses and imitation stone courses [Jeffery,1998:31-33].
Modifications and dates: 1919 - renovated and 'modernised'. Lift added.
1927 - ground floor converted to shops.
1928 - third and fourth storeys added.
Current use: Restaurant
Former use: Aboriginal land, town lot, labour bazaar and restaurant, grocery store, hotel, bank, club premises

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 ).

Pit Street and the subject site:
Pitt Street is the oldest named street in Australia. It was named since the first days of settlement and thought to be named after the British Prime Minister, William Pitt [Scott, quoted in Jeffery,1998,section 3.2.2]. The original Crown Grant of the present site of 122 Pitt Street was given to Joseph Wyatt by the Major General Sir Richard Bourke on the 4th of May,1836. The Sands Directory record that the site was originally numbered 162 & 164 Pitt Street. The site was occupied during 1858-1870 by John Glue who ran a labour bazaar and restaurant, and later a grocery store and in 1870 his business was called the 'Kent Larder'. From 1871-1885 the City Bank Hotel was located on this site [Jeffery,1998,section 3.3].

The Commercial Bank of Australia negotiated the purchase of the leasehold of the City Bank Hotel in 1884. The following year plans were prepared by the local architects the Mansfield Brothers. After a report by a property developer James Mason the directors approved 12,299 pounds for its construction. The new bank premises consisted of a spacious basement storey, ground, first and second floors.

The portions facing Pitt and Rowe Streets were constructed of the best Pyrmont Stone of a light cream colour, wrought and polished. All other external and internal walls were built in massive brickwork. The building was completed and occupied from early 1887. The whole of ground and basement floor was used as business premises of the bank. The upper floor were leased to a firm of solicitors and various other organisations.

The Royal Bank purchased the property in 1918 from Robert Fitzgerald Evans and the Perpetual Trustee Company for 40,500 pounds. In 1919 the building was renovated and modernised, including major refitting to the ground floor banking chamber and the installation of a lift. The alteration was designed and supervised by a local architect John Burcham Clamp. On the 31st of March 1927, the English Scottish & Australia Bank acquired all the assets of the Royal Bank of Australia [Jeffery,1998,section 3.4].

The premises of 122 Pitt Street were placed on the market and the Millions Club of NSW purchased the property on the 24th of August 1927 for 65,000 pounds. The Millions club was formed in 1912 by prominent businessman to foster immigration in Australia. The Club used a model established in America where prominent men in the cities of half a million or more formed local associations to boost the city's population to a million. Before the First World War the Club focused on good roads and housing. The outbreak of war hindered their immigration aspirations, but the Club raised funds for the Red Cross. During the inter-war peace the Club was involved in activities that helped migrants to settle in Australia, but were also involved in State Irrigation Schemes, building branch railway lines to remote parts of the state, the establishment of an Influenza Administration Committee and the NSW State Orchestra. After the Second World War government took greater control over immigration, lessening the Club's ability to contribute. From 1954 they ran a very informative migration and settlement summary each month in their magazine 'Millions' aimed at easing the problems faced by migrants [Jeffery,1998,section 3.6].

After the buildings purchase architectural firm Morrow and Gordon was commissioned by the Club to prepare the plans to convert the ground floor into shops to generate revenue. The decision to proceed with the addition of the third and fourth floor was made in November 1928 and was again done by Morrow and Gordon Architects. The official opening of the 'Millions Club of NSW' took place on the 11th of March by His Excellency Sir Dudley de Chair, the State Governor, who was the clubs patron [Jeffery,1998,section,3.5].

The name Millions Club was no longer appropriate as it once had been so it was changed to The Sydney Club in 1963.The Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club joined with the Sydney Club in 1972 after the Yacht Club's premises were purchased by the MLC redevelopment. Work on the mezzanine level was done to provide yachting members with their own clubroom and an office for the Commodore. It is with great pride that the Sydney Club has survived for so long considering that other organisations and sporting club became more prominent. The club is now involved in activities such as resistance to further encroachment on Sydney Harbour by Naval installations at the Garden Island and the preservation of Queen Victoria Building. They have also increased their support for charitable causes, particularly those directly involved in the care of the people in the city of Sydney [Jeffery, 1998,section 3.7].

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-
2. Peopling-Peopling the continent Migration-Activities and processes associated with the resettling of people from one place to another (international, interstate, intrastate) and the impacts of such movements Settling post-World War II migrants and refugees-
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 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 commerce-
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Commerce-Activities relating to buying, selling and exchanging goods and services Shopkeeping-
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 Land tenure-Activities and processes for identifying forms of ownership and occupancy of land and water, both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Early 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 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 Changing land uses - from suburban to urban-
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 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 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 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 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 Beautifying towns and villages-
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 Developing suburbia-
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 Mannerist-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Social institutions-Activities and organisational arrangements for the provision of social activities Developing clubs for social improvement-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Social institutions-Activities and organisational arrangements for the provision of social activities Developing clubs for social improvement-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Social institutions-Activities and organisational arrangements for the provision of social activities Developing local clubs and meeting places-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Social institutions-Activities and organisational arrangements for the provision of social activities Belonging to an institution for self improvement-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Social institutions-Activities and organisational arrangements for the provision of social activities Community enterprise-
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-

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
Millions House is representative of Late Victorian commercial development in central Sydney. In its adaptation as a former nineteenth century banking premises and its proximity to the financial centre of Martin Place, it is a physical reminder of development of Sydney as a commercial centre.
Noel Bell Ridley Smith & Partners (1998:50)
SHR Criteria b)
[Associative significance]
Millions is of State significance as the headquarters of the influential Sydney Club, formerly the Million Club. The Club was formed to increase immigration to Sydney, but took an active role in advancing New South Wales through many different avenues, including irrigation schemes, roads and railways. The Club had many prominent members, including Percy Hunter, Sir Walter Davidson, Governor of NSW, Sir Arthur Rickard, Sir Joseph Carruthers, a state governor and Dr J.C.Wright, the archbishop of Sydney.
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
Millions House is of State significance as a fine example of the Victorian Mannerist architectural style, as applied to a commercial building. The lower floors display a high standard of architectural decoration, despite unsympathetic alterations to the street level. The 1929 addition of the third and fourth storeys was in keeping with the architectural style of the building.

Millions House has local significance as a landmark at the corner of Pitt ad Rowe Streets and is a key visual element linking a group of Victorian buildings at the intersection of King and Pitt Streets to the General Post Office, Sydney at the corner of Martin Place (Noel Bell Ridley Smith & Partners 1998:50).
SHR Criteria d)
[Social significance]
Millions House is of State significance to the many immigrants aided by the Millions Club and Sydney Club through their services to the newly arrived. The Club provided information and facilities to immigrants to help them settle into life in Australia.

Millions House is of local significance as the headquarters for the Sydney Yacht Club.
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

Order Under Section 57(2) to exempt the following activities from Section 57(1):
Changes in the use of the building.
May 24 1985
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 0058302 Apr 99 271546
Heritage Act - Permanent Conservation Order - former 0058313 May 88 872727

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: 5045601
File number: S91/02489 & HC 871941


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