G030 : Lapstone Hotel (RAAF Base), Former | NSW Environment & Heritage

Culture and heritage


G030 : Lapstone Hotel (RAAF Base), Former

Item details

Name of item: G030 : Lapstone Hotel (RAAF Base), Former
Other name/s: Logie; Lapstone Hill Hotel
Primary address: 29 Great Western Highway, Glenbrook, NSW 2773
Local govt. area: Blue Mountains
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
29 Great Western HighwayGlenbrookBlue Mountains   Primary Address

Statement of significance:

The Officers’ Mess has state significance because of the successful marriage of modern Defence Forces’ needs for administrative and entertaining facilities and officers’ quarters with a sumptuous and important Art Deco hotel, built on the surviving foundations of a highly significant nineteenth-century country retreat.
Date significance updated: 25 Feb 00
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.


Designer/Maker: Herwald G. Kirkpatrick
Builder/Maker: W. B. Dawes
Construction years: 1936-1936
Physical description: The R. A. A. F. Officers' mess is a large two storey building of three wings forming a U shape around a formally landscaped courtyard. The west wing is the formal entry to the building. The south wing, forming the base of the U, houses the ballroom with bedrooms above, and the east wing opens to a east verandah overlooking terraces lawns and gardens towards Penrith and the city of Sydney beyond. The building is approached by a long sweeping drive flanked with standard lamps.

The west wing has a symmetrical front, 11 bays long, with a central porte-cochere flanked by single bay parapetted breakfronts. The walls are rendered, relieved by decorative panels of polychromatic brickwork and polychromatic brickwork to the window sills. The porte-cochere has a flat parapetted roof and polychrome brick piers. The original light fittings on the walls of the entry from the porte-cochere survive. Sets of 2 and 3 x 8-pane casement windows open to each bay. Mature plantings of cypress species continue the symmetrical front.

The central (south) wing has paired casement windows on the first floor of the north elevation. The ground floor has large picture windows overlooking the symmetrical courtyard garden to the north. The south elevation of the central wing has service entries on the ground floor.

The east wing has a single storey flat roofed verandah on the east elevation. Large picture windows from the ground floor dining rooms open out to the verandah. A central stair with a roughcast spandrel leads from the verandah to the terraced lawn below. 3 pane casement windows on the first floor have feature polychromatic brickwork and arches over. The verandah roof is suspended from steel tie rods.

The building has a glazed tiled hipped roof and exposed rafters. The chimneys are roughcast.

The stone footings of Charles Smith's house, Logie, survive under the east wing. The east verandah and stair appear to follow the lines of Logie's verandah and stair.

Internally the large ballroom has a sprung timber floor and corbelled ceiling featuring a large skylight. Many of the original leadlight stair windows, light fittings and decorative ceilings survive.

The west garden terrace has border plantings of citrus sinensis. A swimming pool is located at the south end of the terrace.
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
Date condition updated:17 Jan 00
Modifications and dates: Single storey wing on north side of south wing
Roof dormers removed
Current use: Officers' Mess
Former use: Hotel; Residence


Historical notes: The land occupied by the present RAAF base was originally owned in the 1870s by John Lucas (1818 - 1902), a controversial Sydney politician and investor. He built a country retreat on the land, close to his private Lucasville railway station, but sold the property to Charles Smith (1816 - 1897), a shipping magnate with wide business interests.

In the 1880s Smith proceeded to build his own house, called Logie, higher up the hill, above the railway and beyond Lucas’s cottage. When Charles Smith died in 1897 Logie was inhertited by his son Colin (1879 - 1939). Colin Smith was an eccentric and kenspeckle figure in Glenbrook who established a bacteriological laboratory at Logie (D.Skarratt).

In 1921 Logie and its estate were bought by Herwold Kirkpatrick and his brother-in-law, G.H.D. Morris (known as Jack). After a period of bad relations between the joint owners, Morris moved out of Logie and in 1923 built his own house, Briarcliffe (G 016), on another part of the estate.

Kirkpatrick, who was a well-known architect, then proceeded to convert Logie and the surrounding 12 hectares (29 acres) into a high-class hotel, retaining the stone foundations of Charles Smith’s house. A prospectus inviting capital investment in the project was successfully issued in July 1928 and Lapstone Hill Hotel opened in 1930. Using the interior designers, Ricketts and Thorp of Rockdale and Industrial Arts Ltd, Kirkpatrick created a major Art Deco luxury hotel, which attracted admiring articles in the professional journal Building in 1930, 1936 and 1937.

The founding directors of Lapstone Inn Ltd, which controlled the hotel, were Kirkpatrick himself, Samuel Farey of Sydney, a wool merchant, and John A. Huston, a hotelier of Dubbo. The grounds of some 6 hectares (15 acres) were ‘tastefully planned with lawns, flowers, fruit and vegetable gardens’, watered from the Nepean River far below via a powerful pumping station.

The hotel was extremely fashionable in the 1930s and successfully advertised the benefits of the mountain environment ‘for people recuperating from town life, or pleurisy or pneumonia’ (Prospectus).

The Second World War did not improve the position of such expensive establishments and in 1949 the Lapstone Hill Hotel was offered to the Commonwealth Department of Defence as a new headquarters for the RAAF’s Eastern Area command, which had been located in the Sydney suburb of Edgecliffe since its creation in 1942. The Commonwealth purchased the hotel and all its land in September 1949 and occupied it in 1950. Additional adjacent land was bought by the Commonwealth over the first five years to bring the base to a total of 28 hectares (70 acres). The hotel building was remodelled as central office accommodation, retaining many fine Art Deco features, in particular the famous ballroom which became the Officers’ mess-hall, while new buildings were erected in the grounds.

No personnel actually lived in the 57 rooms of the former hotel during the first twenty years of RAAF use, but in 1982 a new administration block was opened and the former hotel became entirely the Officers’ Mess: about 35 officers were then accommodated in the upper storey.

Downstairs suites for visiting VIPs were created in 1994 by the architect Robert Staas and the interior designer Elizabeth Mackie, retaining the Art Deco theme (Drover).

Historic themes

Australian theme (abbrev)New South Wales themeLocal theme
7. Governing-Governing Defence-Activities associated with defending places from hostile takeover and occupation (none)-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Leisure-Activities associated with recreation and relaxation (none)-

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
The Officers’ Mess has state significance because of the successful marriage of modern Defence Forces’ needs for administrative and entertaining facilities and officers’ quarters with a sumptuous and important Art Deco hotel, built on the surviving foundations of a highly significant nineteenth-century country retreat.
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
The R.A.A.F. officers' mess is an important example of an intact Art-deco hotel. It retains many of its early features and landscaping including its porte-cochere, light fittings, decorative ceilings, stained glass, terraced lawns, formal courtyard garden and swimming pool.

The building is well located to take advantage of substantial views over Penrith and Sydney and retains the ambience of a fine inter-war hotel.
Integrity/Intactness: High
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.


Heritage ListingListing TitleListing NumberGazette DateGazette NumberGazette Page
Local Environmental PlanLEP1991G03027 Dec 91 183 
Heritage study G030   

Study details

TitleYearNumberAuthorInspected byGuidelines used
Blue Mountains Heritage Study1983G030Croft & Associates Pty Ltd & Meredith Walker  Yes
Heritage Study Review, Blue Mountains1992G030Tropman and Tropman  Yes
Blue Mountains Heritage Register Review1999G030Jack, R. I. for University of SydneyRIJ & PH Yes
Technical Audit BM Heritage Register2008G030Blue Mountains City CouncilCity Planning Branch No

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
Photograph 1937Building, Volume 60, no. 355, 12 March,
Photograph 1936Building, Vol. 58, no. 343, 12 March,
Photograph 1930Building, Volume 46, no. 272, 12 April,
Written 1936Building, Volume 58, No. 343, 12 March
Written 1930Building, Volume 46, no. 272, 12 April
WrittenDrover, Ken1994Art Deco
WrittenIndustrial Arts, Ltd., Sydney1928Publicity Poster
WrittenKirkpatrick, Herwold1928Lapstone Inn Ltd. Prospectus,
WrittenMaude, H. E.1976Smith, Charles, (1816-1897) in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Vol. VI

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: Local Government
Database number: 1170270

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