King George Hotel (former) and Haymarket Post Office | NSW Environment & Heritage

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Heritage

King George Hotel (former) and Haymarket Post Office

Item details

Name of item: King George Hotel (former) and Haymarket Post Office
Type of item: Complex / Group
Group/Collection: Postal and Telecommunications
Category: Post Office
Location: Lat: -33.8784477707 Long: 151.2051886530
Primary address: 631, 633-635 George Street, Sydney, NSW 2000
Parish: St Andrew
County: Cumberland
Local govt. area: Sydney
Local Aboriginal Land Council: Metropolitan
Property description
Lot/Volume CodeLot/Volume NumberSection NumberPlan/Folio CodePlan/Folio Number
LOT1 DP108370
LOTA DP108370
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
631, 633-635 George StreetSydneySydneySt AndrewCumberlandPrimary Address

Owner/s

Organisation NameOwner CategoryDate Ownership Updated
 Private 

Statement of significance:

The Haymarket Post Office, built in 1927 to the design of E. Henderson and George Oakeshott, is of State significance as the only substantial post office built in the Inter-war period in the inner city area of Sydney. It is a fine example of the Interwar Free Classical style and is believed to be the only example of this style applied to a post office. The original postal hall survives, although without fittings, and is one of very few such surviving.

The King George Hotel, which reached its present form c.1892, is a fine example of a Victorian Free Gothic style hotel building surviving in the inner city area of Sydney. The facade is largely intact and features an exuberant use of face brickwork. The general layout and character of the main rooms of the hotel, including the fine timber stair, are reasonably intact.

Paul Rappoport Architect 2002:95
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: E. Henderson
Builder/Maker: H.W. ThompsonLtd
Construction years: 1927-1928
Physical description: The former King George Hotel
Externally 631 George Street is a four storey high building of face brickwork. Facing east, towards George Street, is a parapeted facade of the Victorian Free Gothic Style. This side is substantially intact and features decorative brickwork and low pointed arches. Much of this detail has been obscured however, by paint. Windows are framed from timber and with the rise of each level, they decrease in size. Shopfronts on the ground floor have been largely altered. (Rappoport, P, 2000, p8)
The wall to the north of the building is original at east end and the west end of the wall was rebuilt in the 1950s using steel windows with the west wall being rebuilt in the 1940s with possible use of materials from elsewhere in the building. (Rappoport, P, 2000, p8). The post office obscures the south wall of the building; however, it is believed that many original windows to the west would be surviving within that wall. Other than the ground floor shops, much of the building is in poor condition.

The Haymarket Post Office
The former Post Office is a five story building in the Interwar Free Classical Style. The faade is divided into three bays and includes rectangular portals around the ground floor entries. The windows on the first, second and third floors are recessed into arches. A bronze spandrels separate the second and third floors, while the third and fourth are separated by a cornice. The windows are formed of steel casements with hopper toplights. The flat roof is interrupted by a large lightwell on the south side, which originally provided light to the ground floor postal hall and still gives light to the upper floors.

The internal arrangements allow for public space on the ground floor with offices on the first, second and third floor. The fourth floor is occupied by a small flat. The lift is located in the northeast corner of the building and is encircled by a terrazzo stair case. Storage is provided for in a small basement, lit by concrete framed pavement light.

The building is constructed of reinforced concrete and exposed concrete beams. The original steel windows are still extant, as are many of the polished timber high waisted doors. The decorative wall render survives in places, but the original marble finishes and most of the original joinery has been removed.

The flat on the fourth floor is largely extant, the kitchen being the exception.
Modifications and dates: 1927 Construction of new post office to the design of E. Henderson
1932 Partitions in first and third floor
1934 Partitions dividing rear tenancy on third floor
1935 Additional private boxes
1938 Wire guard over main skylight
1948-51 Openings and stairs connecting to 631 George Street
1993 Bar and gaming room fit out on ground floor.

Paul Rappoport Architects 2002:86
Current use: Bar and Gaming rooms
Former use: Post Office

History

Historical notes: The former King George Hotel
Two separate land grants for 631-635 George Street were issued in 1831. The first was to John Dickson with the second grant to James Blanch on the same day of 8th March 1831. By 1866, Patrick and Mary O'Dowd had purchased land that comprised of both Dickson's' and Davis' grants. In 1880, Mary died and what is now known as 631 George Street, Haymarket, was left to her husband and her brother, and they inturn leased it out to George Barr, who then setup the Haymarket Music Hall. In 1891, the site was then signed over to 'St Joseph's Investment and Building Society' which with the cooperation of O'Dowd, created plans to add an extra two storeys to the building (original construction date unknown). There is evidence that this extension may actually be the current 631 George street site. The original building was only designed for two storeys and it can be seen there are significant interior design differences between the lower and upper floors. Examples include the columns in the central wing and plaster mouldings and detailing to arches around the lobbies.

There were constant changes to the owners and occupiers of the building. In 1898 it was known as the Crescent Hotel and its proprietor was Jeffery Monfries. 1899 saw it renamed the Crescent Hotel and Coffee Palace, with proprietor John Eggleton. Between 1907 and 1916 it was known once again as the Crescent Hotel and had five different proprietors.
In 1921, renovations were underway to include a shop tenancy on the ground floor. The reason for this was mainly due to the decline in business for pubs due the government restriction of 6pm closures.

On the 18th December 1924 a sublease to Tooheys Limited occurred and another name change. The building was now renamed the George Hotel. The name of George was probably after the moustached man who was the company logo from 1894. During this time, many renovations continued in an attempt to provide better airflow and fresher air into the building as well as more light and better use of the small rooms.

In 1939, Tooheys Limited purchased the hotel, and had plans approved to completely rebuild the hotel to a new modern design by Coperman Lemont and Keesing. This was approved by the licensing board but work never commenced.
In 1940 an application was approved to delicence the majority of the building. Those affected included the whole of the west wing, the south side of the central wing on the first floor, all of the central wing of the second floor and the entire third floor. In 1941, Tooheys transferred their hotel licence to the New Elizabeth Hotel.

The following year Tooheys offered the building to the City Council for amenities. The Church Life and Work Committee of the Presbyterian Church (NSW) were looking for a location for a Hospitality Centre for servicemen and leased the building for one pound a year. Extensive work must have been undertaken at this time to make the building habitable. Volunteers staffed the Centre, which offered 120 beds, full meals, recreation rooms, information, chapel, showers and an ironing and mending facility. British servicemen were particularly attracted to the homely quality of the Centre. The end of the war, in conjunction with increasing operating costs, lead to the closure of the Centre in 1946. After a failed auction an agreement was reached with St Vincent de Paul, who hoped to provide shelter to the homeless. The Commonwealth, however, intervened in 1948 to acquire the property to allow for the expansion of the Post Office.

Since it was sold in 1993 by Australia Post, it remains vacant except for a retail arcade through 631 George Street and a bar and gaming room on the ground floor and basement of 635 George Street and an office on the first floor.


The Haymarket Post Office
The site of the Haymarket Post Office was originally granted to John Dickson and James Blanch on 8 March 1831. The land was transferred to Michael McMahon in July 1889. 635 George Street was the Mercantile Hotel, later the British Lion Hotel. Number 633 had a number of commercial tenancies. McMahon died in 1904 and the land was transferred to his three sons and Robert David Lewers, who sold to Sydney grocer John Francis Ashwood.

The Commonwealth had been seeking land for a post office in the Haymarket area since 1909. No offers were forthcoming from notices in the Commonwealth Gazette and so 633-635 George Street was resumed by the Commonwealth of Australia under the Lands Acquisition Act of 1906 in 1912. The three shops on the site continued to operate, with various tenants, until they were demolished in 1926.

Plans for the new post office were drawn up in 1924 by E. Henderson, principal Commonwealth designing architect, but underwent some modifications so construction did not begin until 1927. George Oakeshott was the works director and E. Henderson the supervising architect. The builder was H.W. Thompson Ltd. The post office opened in 1928, managed by postmaster Mr J.F. Fountain.

The first complaints regarding the building occurred in 1932, when problems with the lift occurred. It was found these were due to overloading and misuse of the lift. Two years later partitions were erected on the third floor to allow the space to be used by tenants M.S. Regal. In 1939 M.S. Regal made way for the Wireless Branch of the Posts and Telegraphs Department while the new General Post Office was being completed.

Alterations were undertaken in 1932 to remove partitions on the first and third floors for the use of the radio inspector and staff. In 1936 alterations were made to the private boxes.

The Post Office was designed with the intention of leasing parts of the upper storeys to tenants. There seems to initially have been difficulty finding tenants, but the Chinese Consulate General occupied the second floor from 1932 until 1973, when the consul seems to have closed.

Space restrictions at the General Post Office forced the relocation of the engineering section of the Postmaster Generals Department to Haymarket in 1944 and by 1946, other than the Chinese Consulate General, all floors were occupied by postal and telegraphic services. Postal demands continued to put pressure on the building and after lengthy negotiations 631 George Street, formerly the George Hotel, was purchased for the telephones department.

The Post Office was offered for sale in 1991 under a Government policy to sell a proportion of its Post Office buildings. The buildings have changed hands several times since their sale.

Historic themes

Australian theme (abbrev)New South Wales themeLocal theme
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Technology-Activities and processes associated with the knowledge or use of mechanical arts and applied sciences Technologies of construction with reinforced concrete-
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 - facilitating telecommunications-
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 - providing postal services-
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 - Interwar 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 - Victorian Gothic Revival-

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
The Haymarket Post Office is of local signficance in demonstrating the importance of Haymarket as a commercial area in inner Sydney. The Post Office is of further historical siginficance in relation to information regarding the provision of accommodation in the fourth floor flat for post office staff.

The former King George Hotel is of local significance as a surviving late Victorian hotel building in the inner city area built at a time when the hotel industry was enjoying high prosperity.
SHR Criteria b)
[Associative significance]
The Haymarket Post Office is of local signficance for its associations with E. Henderson, the principle designing architect of the Commonwealth Architect's Office.

The former King George Hotel is of local significance for its associations with Tooheys Limited, one of Australia's oldest brewing companies.

Paul Rappoport Architects 2002:92
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
The Haymarket Post Office is of State significance as the only Interwar Free Classical post office building in New South Wales. E. Henderson's use of the classical proportions, massing, feature arches, bronze panelling and cast iron grilles is a fine interpretation of the architectural style.

The former King George Hotel is of local significance as a fine example of the Victorian Free Gothic style, as applied to a commercial building.

Paul Rappoport Architects 2002:92
SHR Criteria d)
[Social significance]
The Haymarket Post Office has a strong association with the Chinese community as the offices of the Chinese consulate General in Australia for 40 years from 1929 to 1973. The Consulate's location in Haymarket demonstrates the area as a focus of the Chinese community during this period.

The former King George Hotel is of local significance for its associations with the work of the Presbyterian Church (NSW) and servicemen during World War II.

Paul Rappoport 2002:93
SHR Criteria e)
[Research potential]
The site is of State significance. The early development of the area and the development of the site indicate there is a high probability of archaeological remains of the early use of the area.
SHR Criteria f)
[Rarity]
The Haymarket Post Office is of State significance as a grand example of an interwar post office and the only built in the Free Classical style (Paul Rappoport Architect 2002:92).

The lift is an intact example of an open style lift with brass mesh panels set in polished timber. The postal hall is one of very few such surviving spaces.
SHR Criteria g)
[Representativeness]
The Haymarket Post Office is of State significance as a fine representative example of a civic building in the Interwar Free Classical style.

The Post Office is of State significance as being representative of the overall growth of postal and telegraph departments between World War I and World War II. The spread of the services into the adjacent hotel demonstrates the expanding roles of the Departments.

The former King George Hotel is of local significance as a fine representative example of a city hotel in the Victorian Free Gothic style.
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.

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):
The maintenance of any building or item on the site where maintenance means the continuous protective care of existing material.
Aug 21 1987
57(2)Exemption to allow workHeritage Act gen build maintenance


Order Under Section 57(2) to exempt the following activities from Section 57(1):
(1) The maintenance of any building or item on the site where the maintenance means the continuous protective care of existing material.
Aug 19 1988
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 0061502 Apr 99 271546
Heritage Act - Permanent Conservation Order - former 0061519 Aug 88 1364474
Local Environmental PlanCSH LEP 4 07 Apr 00   

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
WrittenPaul Rappoport Architects2002Former Haymarket Post Office 631-635 George Street, Haymarket

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: 5045632
File number: HC 33405 S90/03443


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