Johnson's Building | NSW Environment & Heritage

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Heritage

Johnson's Building

Item details

Name of item: Johnson's Building
Other name/s: Chamber of Commerce Building, Johnson's Overalls Building (Johnsons)
Type of item: Built
Group/Collection: Commercial
Category: Shop
Location: Lat: -33.8631842466 Long: 151.2073373810
Primary address: 233-235 George Street, The Rocks, 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
PART LOT1 DP771884

Boundary:

Eora
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
233-235 George StreetThe RocksSydneySt PhilipCumberlandPrimary Address

Owner/s

Organisation NameOwner CategoryDate Ownership Updated
Sydney Harbour Foreshore AuthorityState Government 

Statement of significance:

Johnson's Building and site are of State heritage significance for their historical and scientific cultural values. The site and building are also of State heritage significance for their contribution to The Rocks area which is of State Heritage significance in its own right.

As a group, the buildings (Federation Hall, Royal Naval House, Johnson's Building, 231 George Street & Brooklyn Hotel) have considerable significance. All facades contribute to the overall richness of the group, with Royal Naval House the focal point and the Johnson's Building leading nicely around the corner to a 'coda' of two small but heavily textured facades which seem to be a logical end to the whole. The trees, which are deciduous, give an added quality to the richness of the facades and have considerable significance. The facades as a group have important landmark qualities with their location on the north-west corner of a major intersection, providing an entry point to The Rocks and, in the context of Grosvenor Street, contrasting with the open space of Lang Park on the southern side of the street.

Johnson's Building: This outstanding Edwardian commercial building with its simple detailing to its imposing facades is a most significant element in the George Street townscape and provides a foil to the extravagant Baroque façade of Royal Naval House. The return along Milson Lane has a variety of openings, with a cat-head system for heavy loads. The shopfront with its awning, and its deeply recessed entries, is typical of the period, and one of the few remaining in original form in Sydney. The building is significant for its long and fascinating association with the Johnson organisation. The whole of the ground floor shop is significant, particularly for its openness and considerable ceiling height, and the spacious qualities of the upper floors, with their bay windows and verandahs, are also of note.
SCRA 1982: 99-100, 104-105)
Date significance updated: 30 Mar 11
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

Construction years: 1912-1912
Physical description: Johnson's Building is a six storey Edwardian brick-clad building in the Federation Free Style, notable for its vertical emphasis provided by the narrow pilasters which divide the façade between high narrow windows. The George Street façade is adorned with two storey bay windows under 5th floor semi-circular windows symmetrically placed about a central bay which has a 3 arch arcade to the 5th floor. On either side of this above the bay windows at roof level is a simple pediment. The splayed corner carries a curved balcony providing access to a flag pole. The Grosvenor Street façade is less decorative with the exception of the large arched entrance incorporating a board of chequered terracotta and sandstone. Sandstone trimmings frame most openings and the high pitched roof of slate is visible behind the pediments. (National Trust listing 1980)
Modifications and dates: In the late 1980s, major work was undertaken to the group of buildings to enable their reuse. The street facade, including awning and shopfront were conserved.
Current use: Restaurant, Bar / Offices (Stock Exchange)
Former use: Retail uses.

History

Historical notes: The site occupied by 233-35 George Street was once part of the original Parade Ground of the Colony. By the 1820's this corner site was still owned by the Government. In c.1831 the site was subdivided into four allotments. Of these, three fronted George Street and one Grosvenor Street. A small lane which opened onto Grosvenor Street separated this latter from those with George Street frontages. The corner site at Grosvenor and George Streets was purchased from the Government in 1831 by Anthony Hordern and remained the property of the Hordern family until the NSW Government Rocks Resumption Act of 1901. The building erected by Hordern on this site, which appears in Fowles engraving of 1848, remained essentially unaltered until 1911/12 when demolition occurred for the widening of George Street, together with the 1845 building to the north owned by Alexander Douglas from 1831 until 1901. The site to the north of Douglas block was purchased from the Colonial Government in 1831 by John Richards. These four properties were demolished in 1911/12 and the new Chamber of Commerce Building was erected in 1912. James Johnson had a long association with the corner site and, for a lesser of time, with the Douglas property adjoining to the north. James Johnson, draper and clothier, was associated with this site since 1867, and the building is probably known as to many people for its association with Johnson's Overalls, and associated range of chef's and steward's clothing and equipment. (SCRA 1982: 10-12)
From 1980 negotiations proceeded with the private sector on proposals for mixed development and recycling on the land bounded by George, Grosvenor, Harrington and Essex Streets, known as Sites D5, D6 and D11. The agreement for the Grosvenor Place project was signed in June, 1983 involving the renovation of Royal Naval House and four adjacent buildings, including the Johnson's Building. Work on Grosvenor Place commenced in 1984 and was completed in 1988. In 1987, work commenced on the$12.5m reconstruction and renovation of Royal Naval House and Federation Hall in Grosvenor Street to enable the buildings to house the Sydney Futures Exchange. The work involved the reinstatement of the original verandah and courtyard in a new location, and the restoration of the street facades. The reconstruction and renovation of the three remaining historic buildings on the site, including the Johnson's Building, was carried out in 1989 for use as bars and restaurant.
(SCRA Annual Reports 1980-1989)

From 1980 negotiations proceeded with the private sector on proposals for mixed development and recycling on the land bounded by George, Grosvenor, Harrington and Essex Streets, known as Sites D5, D6 and D11. In 1983 an agreement was signed for the Grosvenor Place project involving the $12.5m reconstruction and renovation of Royal Naval House and Federation Hall in Grosvenor Street to enable the buildings to house the Sydney Futures Exchange. Grosvenor Place was constructed in 1984-88. In 1987 work commenced on Royal Naval House and Federation Hall in Grosvenor Street being completed in 1989. The reconstruction and renovation of the three remaining historic buildings on the site, including the Johnson's Building, was carried out in 1989 for use as bars and restaurant.
(SCRA Annual Reports 1980-89).

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)-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Leisure-Activities associated with recreation and relaxation (none)-

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
Johnson's Building and site are of State heritage significance for their historical and scientific cultural values. The site and building are also of State heritage significance for their contribution to The Rocks area which is of State Heritage significance in its own right (see item no. 4500458).

As a group, the buildings (Federation Hall, Royal Naval House, Johnson's Building, 231 George Street & Brooklyn Hotel) have considerable significance. All facades contribute to the overall richness of the group, with Royal Naval House the focal point and the Johnson's Building leading nicely around the corner to a 'coda' of two small but heavily textured facades which seem to be a logical end to the whole. The trees, which are deciduous, give an added quality to the richness of the facades and have considerable significance. The facades as a group have important landmark qualities with their location on the north-west corner of a major intersection, providing an entry point to The Rocks and, in the context of Grosvenor Street, contrasting with the open space of Lang Park on the southern side of the street.

Johnson's Building: This outstanding Edwardian commercial building with its simple detailing to its imposing facades is a most significant element in the George Street townscape and provides a foil to the extravagant Baroque façade of Royal Naval House. The return along Milson Lane has a variety of openings, with a cat-head system for heavy loads. The shopfront with its awning, and its deeply recessed entries, is typical of the period, and one of the few remaining in original form in Sydney. The building is significant for its long and fascinating association with the Johnson organisation. The whole of the ground floor shop is significant, particularly for its openness and considerable ceiling height, and the spacious qualities of the upper floors, with their bay windows and verandahs, are also of note.
SCRA 1982: 99-100, 104-105)
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:

The 1982 Conservation Plan for the group of five buildings was prepared prior to the major work undertaken to the buildings in the late 1980s. An updated conservation plan should be prepared prior to any further work being proposed for the buildings, addressing each building individually and the group as a whole. This should follow the requirements of the NSW Heritage Office's Heritage Manual.

Procedures /Exemptions

Section of actDescriptionTitleCommentsAction date
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 0155410 May 02 852865

Study details

TitleYearNumberAuthorInspected byGuidelines used
SCA Register 1979-19981998B070Sydney Cove Authority (SCA)  Yes

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
WrittenSydney Cove Redevelopment Authority1983Conservation Plan. Sites D5, D6 & D11
WrittenWellings Smith & Byrnes1987EIS for the Demolition of Johnson's Corner Buildings and Provision of Commemorative Plaza, 229-235 George Street, Sydney

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

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(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: 5053170


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