Sharpies Golf House Sign (The Golf House) | NSW Environment, Energy and Science

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Sharpies Golf House Sign (The Golf House)

Item details

Name of item: Sharpies Golf House Sign (The Golf House)
Other name/s: The Golf House
Type of item: Built
Group/Collection: Recreation and Entertainment
Category: Advertising Sign
Location: Lat: -33.8804408041 Long: 151.2090276110
Primary address: 216 - 220 Elizabeth Street, Sydney, NSW 2000
Local govt. area: Sydney
Local Aboriginal Land Council: Metropolitan
Property description
Lot/Volume CodeLot/Volume NumberSection NumberPlan/Folio CodePlan/Folio Number
PART LOT1 DP63553

Boundary:

To the extent of all the sign including the metal support structure embedded in the building
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
216 - 220 Elizabeth StreetSydneySydney  Primary Address

Owner/s

Organisation NameOwner CategoryDate Ownership Updated
Drummond Family TrustPrivate 

Statement of significance:

Sharpies Golf sign has high rarity values as a unique example of 20th century advertising. The sign is historically significant as the only original animated neon sign remaining insitu and is representatitve of the animated neon sign phase during the 1950s. It has aesthetic appeal as it retains the character of the time and has high social and cultural significance. Sharpies Golf sign has strong associations with the business district of Elizabeth Street, Central Sydney. The sign has strong associations with professional golfer Lindsay Sharp, the first professional to win the newly introduced National Ambrose competition in Australia. Sharpies Golf sign is rare on a national level as a surviving animated neon sign in situ.
Date significance updated: 28 Aug 13
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: Ron Ries
Builder/Maker: Consolidated Neon (later Claude Neon)
Construction years: 1958-1964
Physical description: Sharpies Golf House sign is a skeleton sign made of steel angle with a return and a back to enclose the electrics. The sign is composed of a figure hitting a golf ball in an arc over the words "SHARPIES GOLF HOUSE". The sign has approximately 80 neon tubes bent and attached. The letters of the sign are approximately 14m long by 1.5m high. The elements consist of the Golfer, the club in three positions, the ball, with a metal track and a chaser of about 48 globes, the hole and the flag. The flag on the sign shows the number 19. Golfers understand that the 19th hole is the clubhouse where they all get together for a drink after golf. Over the past 44 years of operation the golfer has hit the ball over 17 million times.
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
Although the sign continues to function, the structure of the sign is in very poor condition. Parts of the curved upper section and the bases of the letters have already corroded to the point that pieces have broken away. The curved lightweight metal top member with external light bulbs is severely rusted along its base. Some places have already fallen from the structure. The pan letters of the sign are severely corroded along their bases. Some pieces of this section of the sign have fallen from the structure. Although the fixing bolts of the letters are in reasonable condition, there is an immediate risk that other places may fall. Some nuts and bolts on the rear support trusses are corroded to the point where they no longer exist. There is corrosion in the gussett plates and in other areas, though not severe. The rear beam is severely corroded at top and bottom flange slice plates.
Date condition updated:23 Jul 02
Modifications and dates: In 1985, Claude Neon Pty Ltd changed the name "The Golf House" to "Sharpies Golf House".
Current use: Animated Neon Sign Advertising
Former use: Aboriginal land, town lot, commercial

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 ).

Neon Lighting:
Neon Gas was first discovered by William Ramsay and M.W Travers in 1898 in London. Neon signs such as the Sharpies Golf House sign are the result of French engineer and chemist, Georges Claude. In 1902 Georges and his French Company Claude applied an electric discharge to a sealed tube of neon gas to create a neon lamp. By 1923, Claude Neon had introduced neon gas signs to America however neon reached its height of popularity in the 1940's and 1950's with many colourful designs that advertised a huge range of products.

The Golf House grew out of a pawn shop run by Russian immigrant, Harry Landis who arrived in Sydney via Broken Hill in 1917. In 1918, Landis purchased the Railway Loan Office at 226 Elizabeth Street, Surry Hills where he opened a pawnshop. In 1923 he moved the pawnshop into 220-222 Elizabeth Street, where two of Harry's sons entered the business, Harry Jr. and Jack. The pawn shop became divided into two main sections, musical instruments, run by Harry Jr. and sporting goods, particularly golf equipment run by Jack. After WWII military service, Jack Landis established the Golf House. Harry Landis Sr. died in 1953 and the shop was divided between the two sons.

The Golf House sign was built between 1958 & 1964 by Consolidated Neon, which became Claude Neon, who owned and maintained the sign which they leased to the Golf House. Ron Ries, an employee at Consolidated Neon for over 50 years remembers how the Golf House sign was designed and drawn out on a blackboard in fluorescent paint. It was then sized and priced and taken out for the signing of a contract. Ron Ries then took out the drawings for approval at the Council Health and Building Department and when the approval was granted, he supervised the construction of the sign. It was first laid out in full size on a brown paper pattern in the layout room. The pattern was then used to make the steel skeleton, which had a front return and a back to enclose and waterproof the electrics. The neon tubes and globes were attached to the skeleton. The sign won the Outdoor Advertising Association award for the best sign in 1964.

In 1977 Harry Landis Jnr moved his music business to Park Street, leaving The Golf House as the sole occupant. In 1978 he sold The Golf House to his son Rob, who worked in the business and had two investor partners. While the shop was the premier golf store in Sydney, it relied to a great extent on the second hand trade and new equipment was increasingly being made more cheaply in Taiwan and elsewhere. It became uneconomical to buy and refurbish old golf clubs. In 1985 Rob Landis and his partners sold the stock and the half-share in the building to professional golfer, Lindsay Sharp, while retaining the name. Lindsay was unwilling to pay the price asked for the goodwill and renamed the business Sharpies Golf House. The sign had to be changed to Sharpies Golf House by Claude Neon because Lindsay did not own the original name. Lindsay Sharp is known for his sporting efforts as he was the first professional to win the newly introduced National Ambrose competition in Australia. The internationally known "Ambrose" competition was first played at Victor Harbor in February, 1966. The Ambrose competition was introduced to Australia by Richard and Mary Ambrose from Spring Valley Country Club in Michigan USA, who had cattle interests in the Victor Harbor district. The Ambrose competition was introduced as a concept known as "the shotgun game" to the Victor Harbor club during 1965. The shotgun game was a concept game which had been played at the Ambrose's home club. The Victor Harbour club included it in their tournament calendar and committed itself to the promotion of the concept throughout Australia. It was at Victor Harbor that the game format first became known as the "Ambrose". The first National Ambrose competition was played at the then new Liverpool Golf Club in Sydney, on the 6th March, 1974, for a purse of $5100.00. The best score recorded for an Ambrose event was scored by a team comprised of professionals Jerry Breaux and Lindsay Sharp.

In 1996 Lindsay Sharp sold the half-share in the premises and in 1999 he sold the business to Ray Drummond, who has a number of golf stores (Nevada Bob's Golf Shops). In 2002, Claude Neon sold the Sharpies Golf House sign to Nevada Bob.

In 2007, the sign was removed and in 2013 it was donated to the Powerhouse Museum / Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences (Sydney Morning Herald, 29 April 2016).

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 Developing discrete retail and commercial areas-
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Communication-Activities relating to the creation and conveyance of information Communicating by electronic advertisement-
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 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 Significant Places: How are significant places marked in the landscape of Parramatta by, or for, different groups?-Monuments and Sites
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 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 Early Sydney Street-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Leisure-Activities associated with recreation and relaxation Going shopping-

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
Sharpies golf sign has historical associations with the commercial growth around Elizabeth Street and of the neon sign fad in Sydney during the 1950's. The sign is also historically significant as the only animated neon sign located on top of one of Australia's longest serving golf shops.
SHR Criteria b)
[Associative significance]
Sharpies Golf sign has strong associations with professional golfer Lindsay Sharp - hence the name Sharpies Golf House. Lindsay Sharp was the first professional to win the newly introduced National Ambrose competition in Australia.
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
The sign retains the character of the time - the golfer dressed in his 1950s clothes, swinging his club and getting the dream of every weekend hacker - a hole in one. Originally designed to convey commercial information, the sign has been visible in a prominent location for half a century resulting in it becoming a landmark element. The sign is aesthetically significant as it adds to the character of the landscape that defines the city's identity.
SHR Criteria d)
[Social significance]
Sharpies Golf House sign has high social significance as it has been viewed by motorists and train commuters since the late 1950's early 1960's. Its strong cultural and social significance was shown by the negative public reaction in regards to the potential removal of the sign in 2002. The sign has been photographed by sporting and non sporting people alike. Sharpies Golf House sign was included in a number of advertisements for other products and a video of Sharpies was produced by Galaxy TV.
SHR Criteria e)
[Research potential]
Sharpies Golf house sign has research potential in regards to Sydney's neon sign phase during the 1950's and 1960's.
SHR Criteria f)
[Rarity]
Sharpies Golf sign has high rarity values as a unique example of 20th century advertising. It is also rare on a national level as one of the first original animated neon signs to be listed on a heritage register. It is also the only documented original animated neon sign still in operation nationwide.
SHR Criteria g)
[Representativeness]
Sharpies Golf sign is representitve of the animated neon sign fad that had its beginnings in 1920's and reached its peak during the 1940's and 1950’s.
Integrity/Intactness: Although there is some corrosion of metal elements, the sign can still demonstrate its significance
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:

It is recommended that the curved upper section of the sign and the bases of the letters be rebuilt. The rear support trusses, beam and related structural members should be made a priority for repair.

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 0165501 Nov 02 2019414

Study details

TitleYearNumberAuthorInspected byGuidelines used
Commercial Oral Histories of Central Sydney2001 Richard Raxworthy  No

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
WrittenKay2002Neon sign courts heritage listing View detail
OtherMary Bellis2002The History of Neon Signs View detail
WrittenSydney Morning Herald2016End of an era as Sharpie’s Golf House set to make way for Collette Dinnigan-designed apartments View detail
WrittenThe Victor Harbour Golf Club2002Ambrose Championships - History View detail

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: 5053378
File number: H00/00598


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