Corn Exchange | NSW Environment, Energy and Science

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Corn Exchange

Item details

Name of item: Corn Exchange
Other name/s: Fruit Market; Four Points Sheraton, PACT Youth Theatre
Type of item: Built
Group/Collection: Commercial
Category: Warehouse/storage area
Location: Lat: -33.8706359133 Long: 151.2036107140
Primary address: 173-185 Sussex 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
PART LOT101 DP1009697

Boundary:

Eora
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
173-185 Sussex StreetSydneySydneySt AndrewCumberlandPrimary Address

Owner/s

Organisation NameOwner CategoryDate Ownership Updated
Place Management NSW Housing and Property Group DPIEState Government 

Statement of significance:

The Corn Exchange and the Central Warehouse (No. 139-151) are the last remaining remnants of this warehousing and commercial area which serviced Sydney's developing commercial and trading sector in the mid to later 19th century. These mid to late 19th century warehouse and commercial buildings, together with other remaining buildings of this era in Sussex Street, comprise a homogenous group which demonstrate a careful attention to design, materials, and workmanship.

The Corn Exchange is the earliest remaining market building in Sydney. It was designed by the noted architect George McRae, who later designed the Queen Victoria Building. It is a landmark building; forming part of the city portal at Pyrmont Bridge.

The Corn Exchange was extensively restored, reconstructed and adapted for retail purposes as part of the hotel redevelopment in the early 1990s, but still remains a fine representative example of a late 19th century warehouse complex. It demonstrates the essential role that warehouse development has played in the development of Sydney as a commercial and trading centre.
Date significance updated: 24 Jan 02
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: Architect: George McRae
Construction years: 1887-
Physical description: The Corn Exchange Building is a stucco-fronted three-storey structure with elliptical arches at street level and a curving corner at the southern end. Two levels face Sussex Street with a basement below facing west. The slated roof of the building is an assembly of pyramidal and hipped gable shapes with a simple curved roof matching the faade to the south. The existing fixed shop-front glazing is painted white or obscured by curtains. While it has been extensively modified over the years, the building remains a good example of Queen Anne style commercial architecture.

Interior
The ground and first floors framing, which consists of a mixture of brick piers and circular cast iron columns supporting riveted composite wrought iron girders, remains. The exposed roof framing and timber lining boards required considerable replacement during the 1990s conservation works. By the 1980s only scant evidence remained of the early internal partitioning of the ground and first floors. The open plan floor plate was retained during the 1990 alterations for the adaptive re-use and fitout as a small department store and restaurant. (Tanner and Associates Pty Ltd, HIS, 2001)
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
Likely to be disturbed
Date condition updated:27 Apr 01
Modifications and dates: 1887 - built
1891 - converted to offices, with posted awnings
by 1934 - suspended awnings replaced posted awnings
by 1960s - no awnings remain
1991 - major redevelopment for the Nikko Hotel
Current use: Part of Hotel
Former use: Aboriginal land, town lot, Market

History

Historical notes: The Corn Exchange building, built in 1887 on the corner of Sussex and Market Streets, is the earliest remaining market building in Sydney. It was designed by the City Architect, George McRae, who later designed the Queen Victoria Building, for use as a temporary fruit market. The building incorporated a German system of brick and cast-iron structural framing in an attempt to make the building fire-resistant.

The Corn Exchange Building operated as a fruit market for only four years before being converted into offices with posted street-level awnings, in accord with the original design intent of the architect. In 1900, the building was renamed the Corn Exchange during a private attempt to establish the City's grain market in the building. As transport links away from the inner harbour improved, interest in the Corn Exchange dwindled and from 1917 a succession of commercial tenants inhabited the upper levels of the building. By 1934, the posts had been removed and the awnings were suspended. By the late 1960s the awnings had been removed altogether. The unoccupied basement was a haven for the homeless throughout much of this time.

During the 1970s and 1980s the building was in use as the home of PACT youth theatre, when it was the site of experimentation and innovative theatrical performances.

Both this building and the Central Warehouse underwent considerable alteration and suffered some deterioration of the original fabric prior to their incorporation in the Nikko Hotel redevelopment of the early 1990s. Work on the Corn Exchange at that time included conservation works to the surviving significant fabric, as well as extensive alterations to facilitate its adaptive reuse as a small department store and restaurant. The roller shutters to Sussex Street openings were removed and replaced with timber-framed display windows. (Tanner and Associates Pty Ltd, HIS, 2001)

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. Cultural - Coasts and coastal features supporting human activities-
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-
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Agriculture-Activities relating to the cultivation and rearing of plant and animal species, usually for commercial purposes, can include aquaculture Selling agricultural produce in markets-
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 Commercial Enterprise-
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Commerce-Activities relating to buying, selling and exchanging goods and services Innkeeping-
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 Operating market and retail complexes-
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-
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Pastoralism-Activities associated with the breeding, raising, processing and distribution of livestock for human use Servicing the pastoral industry-
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 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 Administering and alienating Crown lands-
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 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 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 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 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 Creating landmark structures and places in urban settings-
5. Working-Working Labour-Activities associated with work practises and organised and unorganised labour Working in places of public entertainment-
5. Working-Working Labour-Activities associated with work practises and organised and unorganised labour Working on public infrastructure projects-
5. Working-Working Labour-Activities associated with work practises and organised and unorganised labour Working independently on the land-
5. Working-Working Labour-Activities associated with work practises and organised and unorganised labour Working with animals-
5. Working-Working Labour-Activities associated with work practises and organised and unorganised labour Working in an Inn, Public House, Hotel etc.-
5. Working-Working Labour-Activities associated with work practises and organised and unorganised labour Working with plants-
5. Working-Working Labour-Activities associated with work practises and organised and unorganised labour Working on the land-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Leisure-Activities associated with recreation and relaxation Going drinking in bars or clubs-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Leisure-Activities associated with recreation and relaxation Tourism-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Leisure-Activities associated with recreation and relaxation Activities associated with relaxation and recreation-
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 Going to a restaurant-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Persons-Activities of, and associations with, identifiable individuals, families and communal groups Associations with George McRae, architect-

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
The development of the Corn Exchange and Central Warehouse Buildings demonstrates the development of commercial activities in Sydney Central Business District (CBD). Their original use as a market and warehouses, then office spaces followed by a period of neglect before an adaptive reuse development for commercial and retail tenancies reflects the evolution of built uses in this part of Sydney. The most recent use represents a conscious acceptance of adaptive reuse of existing building stock by government and private enterprise, reflecting the changing attitudes to heritage development in Sydney.

The Corn Exchange is the earliest remaining market building in Sydney. As a fruit market, and then as a private grain market it played an important part in the commercial development of Sydney in the 19th and 20th centuries.

The Corn Exchange was designed by George McRae, the City Architect, who later designed the Queen Victoria Building.
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
The Corn Exchange and Central Warehouse Buildings comprise a sample of mid to late 19th century warehouse buildings, that together with other remaining buildings of this era in Sussex Street comprise a homogenous group with careful attention to design, materials and workmanship. At the City portal to Pyrmont Bridge, they form a key part of an admirable streetscape. Together with a similar contribution to this part of Sydney.

The Corn Exchange is a landmark building as part of the City portal of Pyrmont Bridge. It still features an unusually richly detailed Queen Anne style warehouse façade, of a type now rare in Sydney. Its incorporation of an imported proprietary fire-resistant cast-iron structural system is an early Sydney example of developing building science being used to address safety issues.
SHR Criteria f)
[Rarity]
The Corn Exchange and Central Warehouse Buildings are the last remnants of this warehousing area, which serviced Sydney's developing commercial sector. The Corn Exchange is the earliest remaining market building in Sydney. It is an uncommonly intact example of a late 19th century public building built for market purposes.
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 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 0161928 Jun 02 1064987

Study details

TitleYearNumberAuthorInspected byGuidelines used
SCA Register 1979-19981998 Sydney Cove Authority (SCA)  Yes

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
WrittenGodden Mackay Logan Pty Ltd2000Corn Exchange and Central Warehouse Buildings - Initial Heritage Advice
WrittenHoward Tanner and Associates Pty Ltd1988Corn Exchange and 121-171 Sussex Street , Sydney - Evaluation of Conservation Potential, Linked to Current Development Proposals
WrittenHoward Tanner and Associates Pty Ltd1988Corn Exchange and 121-171 Sussex Street , Sydney - Evaluation of Conservation Potential, Linked to Current Development Proposals
WrittenTanner and Associates Pty Ltd2001Corn Exchange and Central Warehouse, Sussex Street, Sydney, Heritage Impact Statement
WrittenTanner and Associates Pty Ltd2001Corn Exchange and Central Warehouse, Sussex Street, Sydney, Heritage Impact Statement

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: 5050763
File number: S90/06043


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