Sydney Downing Centre | NSW Environment & Heritage

Culture and heritage

Heritage

Sydney Downing Centre

Item details

Name of item: Sydney Downing Centre
Other name/s: Mark Foy's Piazza Store Building
Type of item: Built
Group/Collection: Retail and Wholesale
Category: Department Store
Location: Lat: -33.8774085407 Long: 151.2090219460
Primary address: 302 Castlereagh Street, Sydney, NSW 2000
Parish: St Lawrence
County: Cumberland
Local govt. area: Sydney
Local Aboriginal Land Council: Metropolitan
Property description
Lot/Volume CodeLot/Volume NumberSection NumberPlan/Folio CodePlan/Folio Number
LOT21 DP827813
PART LOT22 DP827813
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
302 Castlereagh StreetSydneySydneySt LawrenceCumberlandPrimary Address
143-147 Liverpool StreetSydneySydney  Alternate Address

Owner/s

Organisation NameOwner CategoryDate Ownership Updated
Attorney General's DepartmentState Government28 Jan 99

Statement of significance:

The Downing Centre is accommodated within a major interwar retailing building which was owned and operated as Mark Foys for most of the 20th century until the 1980s. Prominently located at the intersection of Castlereagh and Liverpool Streets, it is a landmark building of the interwar period in Sydney.
Date significance updated: 31 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: McCredie & Anderson
Builder/Maker: Douzans Bros
Construction years: 1908-1909
Physical description: The Downing Centre , a former retail complex is an 8 storey building with basements originally built as 3 storeys and extended several times in the interwar period. Portions of the original building remain intact, many changes have been made, to enlarge the building which were influenced by the earlier building design. The façade to Liverpool street employs the classical orders using white bricks with yellow faience work to the sills and cornices. Two corner towers with yellow pinnacles surmount the building. Art Nouveau influences are evident in the external and little remaining internal detailing.
Other accommmodations include 16 District Courts, 15 Local Courts.
The Downing Centre is constructed in painted face brick with decorative cast iron work and moulded cement details. The building is devided into vertical bays and uses the horizontal classical orders distinguishing different floor levels.
Architectural Style: Interwar Stripped Classical
Exterior: Brick, Iron
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
Good condition
Modifications and dates: 1909 Alterations

1916 - 1924 Spain, Cosh & Dods various works - removing and relocating lift and escalators, changes to doors, shop windows and frontage (builders Stuart Brothers).

1924 Ross & Rowe plans for multi-storey extension and additions (approved by SCC 1927, implemented in stages over time) - stripping out interior with new structure comprising four storeys and roof terrace. Original portion formed the base and external character maintained and carried through to new levels (engineer AM McDonald, octagonal concrete columns with splayed 'mushroom' heads and flat plate reinforced concrete floors). Over time, store diminished in size/footprint, letting out floors to tenants to cover costs.

1960s Changes to Piazza and replacment of building parts with 'modern' elements. Vinyl tiles placed over travertine floor of main entry. Mail well with famous chandelier closed up to enable the First Floor to be used and separately leased. The chandelier was used in a Brisbane complex and has now been relocated (back) over a new stair in the building.

1966 Level 6 (roof terrace) additions for offices (State Planning Authority). Additions resulted in altered parapet and replacement of terracotta decoration with concrete beams.

1968 Foy Co. overtaken by McDowells, then Waltons (1972). The store retained its name until 1980 when taken over by Grace Brothers.

1970s Courts of justice occupied upper floors from the 1970s. Other than the structure, only few internal elements remained at this time.

1983 Retail function finally closed. The whole building had been owned by AMP Society for some years, with floors leased to various organisations and government departments, such as the Housing Commission through the 1970s and early 1980s. Government committee recommended that a multi-court complex, with 16 new court rooms be accommodated in the Foy building. In 1981 the south wall was bricked up as a temporary measure with plans for the new complex following in 1985. Former Mark Foy's building adapted for use as courts.

1991 - Court complex opened and continues to operate as part of the District Court network. Significant Interwar additions and alterations to interior and exterior.

1993 DA submitted to construct new 21 level court complex with two levels of judges' parking, ground and 18 levels over (John Maddison Tower, to the south), completed in 1994.
Current use: Courts complex, offices
Former use: Department Store

History

Historical notes: Mark Foy was a successful draper who was born and apprenticed in Ireland and arrived in Melbourne in 1858. He probably worked in established firms before going to the goldfields in 1859 and establishing his own shop in Collingwood where he prospered expanding into three shops by 1875 and six by 1880. In 1882, due to failing health, he passed the original store to his eldest son, Francis, withdrew his capital and brought in William Gibson as Francis' partner. He left with his wife for Europe, however, died en route in San Francisco in January 1884. Soon after Francis sold out to Gibson and moved to Sydney to establish a new business under his father's name (Perumal Murphy Alessi, 2017, 3).

Francis opened his first drapery store in leased premises in Oxford Street in 1885. This business also prospered and as the expiry of his lease approached he looked for a site to buy to build new premises. Around the turn of the century, Francis with his brother Mark Junior started buying a total of 15 lots in the block bounded by Liverpool, Castlereagh, Elizabeth and Goulburn Streets which was located near the retailing and transport centre of the city at this time around Central Railway Station. The existing buildings on the sites on Elizabeth, Liverpool and Castlereagh Streets were demolished in 1907 and the new building, comprising two and three storeys, designed by architects McCredie and Anderson, was opened in 1909. The design was largely based on the Bon March store in Paris, but architect, Mr Anderson, travelled to England, Europe and America to research the latest ideas (ibid, 2017, 3).

In 1924, Spain, Cosh & Epslin Architects in consultation with Ross & Rowe Architects were paid to design eight alterations and additions. The building was originally intended to cover the whole block, but was not completed.

The emporium had large additions and extensions from 1927-30. The Foy family owned and developed it and as business declined, mid-20th century, employed strategies to stem losses. Parts were leased for office use. The building and retail business were sold to various companies from the 1960s. Retail operations continued until 1983, by when several court operations were in the building. The same year a government committee recommended a multi-court complex be accommodated within the building. The complex, named after Reginald Downing, former state Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, opened in 1991 (21 storey tower adjoining the Downing Centre to the south). A 1985 A Conservation Study notes that other than the structure only few internal elements remained at this time. Since then, several fit-outs and upgrades have been undertaken to the building to provide continued and expanding local district court facilities (ibid, 1, 2).

1960s - changes to Piazza and replacment of building parts with 'modern' elements. Vinyl tiles placed over travertine floor of main entry. Mail well with famous chandelier closed up to enable the First Floor to be used and separately leased. The chandelier was used in a Brisbane complex and has now been relocated (back) over a new stair in the building.
1966 - Level 6 (roof terrace) additions for offices (State Planning Authority). Additions resulted in altered parapet and replacement of terracotta decoration with concrete beams.
1968 - Foy Co. overtaken by McDOwells, then Waltons (1972). The store retained its name until 1980 when taken over by Grace Brothers.

1970s courts of justice had occupied upper floors from the 1970s. Other than the structure, only few internal elements remained at this time (Perumal Murphy Alessi, 2017, 3).

1983 - retail function finally closed. The whole building had been owned by AMP SOciety for some years, with floors leased to various organisations and government departments, such as the Housing COmmission through the 1970s and early 1980s. 1983 - Government committee recommended that a multi-court complex, with 16 new court rooms be accommodated in the Foy building. In 1981 the south wall was bricked up as a temporary measure with plans for the new complex following in 1985.

until 1991 - fmr. Mark Foys building adapted for use as courts. Complex opened 1991 and continues to operate as part of the District Court network. Significant Interwar additions and alterations to interior and exterior.

1993 - DA submitted to consrtuct new 21 level court complex with two levels of judges' parking, ground and 18 levels over (John Maddison Tower, to the south), completed in 1994 (ibid, 2017, 3).

Historic themes

Australian theme (abbrev)New South Wales themeLocal theme
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Commerce-Activities relating to buying, selling and exchanging goods and services (none)-
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 Developing discrete retail and commercial areas-
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
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. Suburban Consolidation-
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 Suburban Centres-
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 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 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 Impact of railways on suburban development-
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 Commercial store, shop-
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-
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-
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. State government-
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 - conserving cultural and natural heritage-
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. Providing public offices and buildings-
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 - jailing prisoners-
7. Governing-Governing Law and order-Activities associated with maintaining, promoting and implementing criminal and civil law and legal processes The rule of law-
7. Governing-Governing Law and order-Activities associated with maintaining, promoting and implementing criminal and civil law and legal processes (none)-
7. Governing-Governing Law and order-Activities associated with maintaining, promoting and implementing criminal and civil law and legal processes court house-
7. Governing-Governing Law and order-Activities associated with maintaining, promoting and implementing criminal and civil law and legal processes Administration of justice-
7. Governing-Governing Law and order-Activities associated with maintaining, promoting and implementing criminal and civil law and legal processes Dispensing justice-
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 - Beaux Arts style-
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. Applying architectural design to utlilitarian structures-
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-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Persons-Activities of, and associations with, identifiable individuals, families and communal groups Associations with Mark Foy, retailer, businessman, philanthropist-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Persons-Activities of, and associations with, identifiable individuals, families and communal groups Associations with McCredie and Anderson, architects-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Persons-Activities of, and associations with, identifiable individuals, families and communal groups Associations with the Douzan brothers, builders-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Persons-Activities of, and associations with, identifiable individuals, families and communal groups Associations with Spain, Cosh and Dods, architects-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Persons-Activities of, and associations with, identifiable individuals, families and communal groups Associations with Ross and Rowe, architects-

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 workHeritage Act Refer to standard exemptions gazetted 23 October 1998.

Order Under Section 57(2) to exempt the following activities from Section 57(1):
*change of use;
*strata subdivision
* maintenance of any item (building, works, relics or places) on the site, where maintenance means the continuous protective care of existing fabric.
*Minor repairs where minor repair means the repair of materials and includes replacement of minor components such as individual bricks, where these have been damaged beyond reasonable repair or are missing. Replacements should be of the same materials, colour, texture, form and design as the original it replaces.
*alterations to the interior of a building which are of a minor nature and will not adversely affect the significance of the building as an item of the environmental heritage.
Apr 6 1990
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 0039302 Apr 99 271546
Heritage Act - Permanent Conservation Order - former 0039320 Sep 85 1305038
Heritage Act - s.170 NSW State agency heritage register     
Local Environmental PlanFormer Mark Foy's Emporium, Sydney LEP 2012I185407 Apr 12   
Register of the National EstateMark Foy's Emporium182121 Oct 80   

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
WrittenCasey & Lowe Associates1993Baseline archaeological assessment Mark Foy's warehouse site, Goulburn Street, Sydney, NSW
WrittenDamaris Bairstow1995Mark Foys, Goulburn Street : historical archaeological excavation : volume 2 : appendices
WrittenDamaris Bairstow1995Mark Foys, Goulburn Street : historical archaeological excavation : volume 1 : report
WrittenDepartment of Courts Administration1993Department of Courts Administration: Preliminary Heritage and Conservation Register
WrittenHigginbotham, Edward1991Report on the Archaeological Excavation of the Site of the Family Court of Australia, Corner of Castlereagh and Goulburn Streets, Sydney, 1990
WrittenRice, Jean, NSW Department of Public Works1985Mark Foy's building, Liverpool Street, Sydney : conservation study
WrittenRod Howard Heritage Conservation Pty Ltd1993Preliminary conservation plan for Mark Foy's Limited factory : Goulburn & Commonwealth Streets, Sydney

Note: internet links may be to web pages, documents or images.

rez rez rez rez rez rez
rez rez rez rez
(Click on thumbnail for full size image and image details)

Data source

The information for this entry comes from the following source:
Name: Heritage Office
Database number: 5045095
File number: S95/00338/1


Every effort has been made to ensure that information contained in the State Heritage Inventory is correct. If you find any errors or omissions please send your comments to the Database Manager.

All information and pictures on this page are the copyright of the Heritage Division or respective copyright owners.