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Red Cross House

Item details

Name of item: Red Cross House
Other name/s: S. Hoffnung & Co.
Type of item: Built
Group/Collection: Commercial
Category: Warehouse/storage area
Location: Lat: -33.8680151415 Long: 151.2048429750
Primary address: 153-159 Clarence Street, Sydney, NSW 2000
Parish: St Philip
County: Cumberland
Local govt. area: Sydney
Local Aboriginal Land Council: Metropolitan
Property description
Lot/Volume CodeLot/Volume NumberSection NumberPlan/Folio CodePlan/Folio Number
LOT1 DP109722
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
153-159 Clarence StreetSydneySydneySt PhilipCumberlandPrimary Address

Owner/s

Organisation NameOwner CategoryDate Ownership Updated
Australian Red Cross - NSW DivisionCommunity Group 

Statement of significance:

The building was constructed in 1938/9 for and exclusively occupied until c.1971 by the long established Sydney wholesalers S. Hoffnung & Co. Ltd. The building was designed by Samuel Lipson (in conjunction with Robertson Marks and McCredie), now noted as one of the avant-garde designers of the 1930's and part of the movement to introduce European derived Modernism into Australia. The building was designed principally as a warehouse structure and as such probably represents the last such large scale structure to be erected in the traditional warehousing quarter of the Sydney CBD - Clarence, York and Kent Streets. Since c. 1974 the building has been exclusively occupied by one of Australia's best known medical and welfare institutions, the Red Cross Society. The building is a very good and rare example of a Moderne style CBD warehouse building possessing characteristic features embodied in the Kent and Clarence Street facades. Internally the aesthetic of clean industrial quality finishes is exhibited in the system of columns and mushroom head capitals. The building facades make a substantial contribution to the streetscape of both Kent and Clarence Streets by the use of texture brick relieved by the horizontal bands of windows, which in the instance of the principal front of Clarence Street is contrasted by the strong vertical element of the triangular window and Art Deco motif termination. The building has served as the Red Cross Blood Transfusion Centre for nearly the past twenty five years. This association is probably recognised by a majority of the community of Sydney of all ages. The association of the building with the S.Hoffnung & Co. Ltd ownership is also likely to be recognised by some older members of Sydney. The building has also been recognised as possessing heritage significance by the City Council and various professional and interest groups.
Date significance updated: 03 Jan 01
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: Samuel Lipson, architect, in conjunction with Robertson, Marks and McCredie
Builder/Maker: Builder: Kell and Rigby, structural engineer: R. E. McMillan
Construction years: 1937-1938
Physical description: The building is constructed of reinforced concrete throughout designed on the flat slab principle which allowed with the mushroom-head columns. The dimension of the columns varied from between 18" to 33" in diameter. The head of the columns are approximately 5'6" in diameter.

Clarence Street Elevation:
Eight level face brick with recessed ninth floor level behind awning with five column bays at ground floor and expressed columns up to second floor level with central Art Deco piered breakfront and cement rendered fin-like termination motifs in Moderne style. Evidence of original awning removed. Original decorative copper clock converted to Red Cross symbol. Steel frame windows with curved terminations at north and south ends and breakfronts at top level. Recessed faade at ground level c.1971, possibly including paving and column cladding. Luxaflex metal ceiling linings to undercroft. At first floor level decorative marble facings in Moderne and Art Deco design. Recessed upper levels including plant rooms and water tanks with cement rendered surfaces and galvanised steel railings.

Kent Street Elevations:
Nine level face brick and render with roof top extension of one level. Horizontal Moderne style with steel frame windows. Vertical emphasis breakfront at north end indicating stairwell. Steel awning at street level over vehicle entrances.

South elevation:
Cement rendered above adjacent building.
North elevation:
Bounded by taller building set back approximately 5m, cement rendered walls.

Internally
It was not possible to inspect the internal spaces. A cursory inspection from the street indicates that for the ground floor (Clarence Street) and lower ground (Kent Street) floors the original reinforced concrete columns with mushroom profile capitals are intact for these areas and therefore presumably for other floors.
Features noted on the ground floor of the Clarence Street front such as suspended ceilings and plasterboard stud frame partitioning (both post dating c.1970) would also probably be applicable to the upper floors.
Features noted on the lower ground floor of the Kent Street elevation are the cement rendered surfaces, and the fire stair of concrete construction with steel pipe handrails. The roller shutters appear renewed c. 1980.
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
The archaeological potential of the place is low. The building is not included in The Archaeological Zoning Plan for Central Sydney 1992
Date condition updated:03 Jan 01
Modifications and dates: 10/1938
Installation of partitions on the first floor
11/1939
Alterations to the ground floor lock up shop at 157 Clarence Street
11/1947
Installation of ventilation ducts on the ground floor
5/1955
Making of two holes (purpose not known but probably chutes) on the lower ground floor for S. Hoffnung & Co.
3/1964
Unspecified alteration valued at £300
1972
Alterations to the premises for uses as offices and as a blood transfusion service for the Australian Red Cross Society. These alterations were undertaken by the Dept. of Public works and Lipson, Kaad & Fotheringham from mid 1972. Visual inspection of the extant building indicates these alterations partitioned the interior spaces, removed the original shop fronts and showcases on the Clarence Street façade, inserted additional lifts, and converted the cart dock area to car parking. amenities such as lavatories were also probably upgraded at this time.
3/1974
Erection of an illuminated sign for the Red Cross Society by Claude Neon. This work valued at $20,000 and probably relates partly to the conversion of the Clarence Street clock.
c. 1976
Installation of an Energy Australia electricity substation (no. 3588) probably in relation to the use of the building as a blood transfusion centre.
12/1987
Installation of partitioning on the third floor. work valued at $20,00
1/1988
Construction of a storeroom on a ? new eighth floor
6/1993
Partitioning and bricking up openings on the third floor
9/1993
Enlarging of existing diesel generator plant.
Current use: Ground floor retail, upper floors blood transfusion centre - Aust. Red Cross
Former use: Aboriginal land, town lot, Hoffnung’s general merchandise store with offices and storage

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 ).

Warehousing West of the Central Business District
During the late 19th Century up to the 1950's the area west of the Central Business District, that is west of George Street through to the former wharves on Darling Harbour, was characterised by businesses with functions and services associated with import and export, textile and clothing manufacturers, etc.

The redevelopment of this area from its predominant early to mid 19thCentury use as a residential quarter commenced in the 1860's. The 1880's consolidated Clarence, Kent and York Streets as 'the great warehousing streets' of Sydney. After the economic downturn of the 1890's, the pent up demand for warehousing in the first decade of this century resulted in another building boom of large five to seven storey buildings. These new warehouses often also resulted on the consolidation of the smaller residential sized allotments of about 10 perches.

Occupants and Owners
The firm of S.Hoffnung & Co. was established in 1853 by Sigmond Hoffnung (1830-1904) a Polish migrant who arrived in Sydney in 1852. During the gold rush years of the 1850's-1860's Hoffnung (in partnership with Henry Nathan) prospered by suppling miners and settlers of the colony with provisions and stores. In 1870 the company commissioned the construction of new purposely built premises at 163/171 Pitt Street. These premises were designed by Thomas Rowe. Also during the 1870's the company opened new branches in Brisbane, New Zealand, Fiji and London. In 1899 the company was incorporated as a private limited liability company and adopted the title of S. Hoffnung & Co. Limited. Later, in 1902 the firm became a public company.

In April 1937 the company's premises at 163/171 Pitt Street were resumed by the Commonwealth Government for the proposed extensions to the Sydney GPO. Prior to this in early 1937 the company had undertaken the purchase of several allotments of land on Kent and Clarence Street.
The move to the new premises at Clarence Street was completed in January 1939. While the company continued to trade from their 367-371 Kent Street property the premises at Clarence Street became their headquarters.

Sigmond Hoffnung and presumably his descendants were prominent in Jewish activities in the city of Sydney. Sigmond was associated with the York Street Synagogue and a benefactor of the building committee of the Great Synagogue in Elizabeth Street. He also served on committees to raise money for the Sydney Jewish Sabbath School; the Sydney Hebrew Certified Denominational Scholl, and the Jewish Philanthropic and Orphan Society.

The Clarence Street property was the fifth warehouse occupied by the firm. The location of the earlier premises were generally in the vicinity of the GPO 339 George Street (from 1855) no. 2 Wynyard Street (from 1861), 117 Pitt Street (from 1870) and 163/171 Pitt Street (from 1883). The size and architectural quality of these buildings suggest that the firm during the period 1850's to c.1950s was an important member of Sydney's commercial trading houses.

The Australian Red Cross was established in 1914 (as a consequence of the outbreak of hostilities at this time) as a branch of the British organisation. The institution is associated with a wide range of medical and social welfare activities. Prior to the move to Hoffnung building, the New south Wales branch of this society was located in premises at no.1 York Street.

The current owner of the building is the Australian Red Cross Society. The property was purchased by the Society in July 1970.

Architect
The design of the building is credited to Samuel Lipson in conjunction with the large Sydney architectural practice of Robertson, Marks and McCredie. However the role of Robertson, Marks and McCredie in this relationship is not entirely clear as Lipson alone appears to have been responsible for the drawings prepared in the development stages of the project.

Samuel Lionel Lipson (1901-) was born in Leeds, England of Lithuanian descent. His architectural training commenced in 1916 at the School of Architecture within the Glasgow School of Arts. Lipson passed the RIBA entrance examination in 1924, and in the following year migrated to Australia. Following his arrivals in Sydney, Lipson was employed for a while in the Commonwealth Department of Works. During his tenure here he worked on a number of Commonwealth Bank buildings erected around the county at this time. Connected with this work was the remodelling of the bank's head office at the corner of Pitt Street and Martin Place.

Lipson was retrenched from government employment in early 1930's and went into private practice. One of the early significant commissions was the remodelling of the Daily Telegraph Building in 1933 for the Bank of New South Wales (extant and now known as the Trust Building).

From the mid 1930's Lipson was in practice with Peter Kaad. The work of this firm was heavily influenced by the Dutch School of Architecture, in particular by the work of Willem Dudok. Extant important work by this office up to the outbreak of the Second World War includes the Hoffnung Building (1937/8) and the Temple Emmanuel, Woollahra.

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-
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 commerce-
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 Storing goods-
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 Health-Activities associated with preparing and providing medical assistance and/or promoting or maintaining the well being of humans (none)-
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Health-Activities associated with preparing and providing medical assistance and/or promoting or maintaining the well being of humans Providing blood transfusion services-
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 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. Architectural design-
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 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 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 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 suburban to urban-
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 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 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 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 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 Impacts of railways on urban form-
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-
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 Role of transport in settlement-
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 Developing private towns-
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 towns in response to topography-
5. Working-Working Labour-Activities associated with work practises and organised and unorganised labour Working in health care-
5. Working-Working Labour-Activities associated with work practises and organised and unorganised labour Working in offices-
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 - 20th century Art Deco/Jazz Age-
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 - Interwar Art Deco-
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 Functionalist-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Persons-Activities of, and associations with, identifiable individuals, families and communal groups Associations with Kell and Rigby, builders-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Persons-Activities of, and associations with, identifiable individuals, families and communal groups Associations with R.E. McMillan, structural engineer-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Persons-Activities of, and associations with, identifiable individuals, families and communal groups Associations with Samuel Lipson, architect-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Persons-Activities of, and associations with, identifiable individuals, families and communal groups Associations with Robertson, Marks and McCredie, architects-

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
While much of the warehousing stock in the York, Clarence, Kent Street area was constructed on the building booms of the 1880's and 1900's, the Hoffnung warehouse, constructed in 1938/9 is a relatively late building, and as such is probably the last major warehouse to be constructed prior to the outbreak of World War Two. By the time of next building boom of the 1950's the need for such a building in the CBD had vanished. The building is associated with the work of Samuel Lipson, being an excellent example of a large scale commission of this architect of the late 1930's.
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
The building is a very good (albeit altered) example of a city CBD warehouse building in the Moderne style. The building retains many features which are indicative of the original Moderne style design, these being:
- steel frame windows on the street facades.
- textured brickwork on both principal facades.
- remnants of granite relief panel above entrance.
- public clock (now converted to Red Cross sign)
- the roof top rendered decorative roof foils.
- the central triangular window with Art Deco motif
- retention of most of the planning design for the Clarence and Kent Street facades.
- vertical breakfront on the Kent Street façade.
SHR Criteria d)
[Social significance]
The building has served as the Red Cross Blood Transfusion Centre for nearly the past twenty five years. This association is probably recognised by a majority of the community of Sydney of all ages.
SHR Criteria f)
[Rarity]
Red Cross House is rare as an extant Art Deco warehouse building in the City of Sydney. It exhibits fine Art Deco Moderne detailing on it’s Clarence Street façade.
Integrity/Intactness: In general, the building is reasonably intact, in particular the Clarence and Kent Street facades.
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 ManagementReview 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 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 0151125 May 01 892040
Heritage Act - s.130 Order - Lapsed  12 Sep 90 1158527
Local Environmental PlanSydney Local Environmental Plan 2012 itemI1717   
Royal Australian Institute of Architects registerList of 20th Century Buildings    
Register of the National EstateRed Cross House1386725 Mar 86   

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
WrittenClive Lucas Stapleton and Partners Pty Ltd1998Conservation Analysis - Red Cross House
WrittenGraham Jahn1997Sydney Architecture
WrittenRoyal Australian Institute of Architects2000State Heritage Inventory form

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: 5051457
File number: EF14/5527; S91/2627


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