Statement of SignificanceThe Brooklyn Hotel is of State significance for its historic, associative and aesthetic values. The site is also of State significance for its contribution to The Rocks area which is of State significance in its own right. The site is representative of the historical phases of the development of the site from 1788 to the present day. The changing use of the site reflects the urban, economic and social development of the area, in particular the Resumption and Redevelopment of The Rocks in the Edwardian period including metropolitan improvements such as the George Street road widening. The retention of the façade and form of the Hotel following the redevelopment of the site is reflective of the growing awareness of heritage and the resulting compromises made.The Brooklyn Hotel is also of significance for its association with the renowned Government Architect Walter Liberty Vernon. Vernon is celebrated as one the key practitioners of the Federation Free Style and the Hotel is reflective of the influence of the European Modern movement on Australian Architecture at the turn of the 20th century. The Hotel is also noted as one few surviving Hotels designed by the Government Architect and is considered rare in this regard. The Brooklyn Hotel is of significance for its highly picturesque façade and shopfront which are representative of Edwardian commercial buildings designed by the Government Architects Office. The cantilevered awning, which was restored based on the original design, was claimed to be one of the first uses of its type in Australia, being suspended over the footpath on iron rods. The building forms part of a substantial group of Edwardian shops and premises unparalleled in Sydney, with all façades contributing to the overall richness of the group. Shops and premises of this calibre are considered rare in Sydney. The building group have important landmark qualities at an entry point to The Rocks. The building is representative of Hotels in The Rocks area, and continues to partially operate as such. The site, which has been noted as a local landmark, is strongly associated with state historical themes including recreational and relaxation activities.
Pub / Hotel
Pub / Hotel
Construction Years: 1912 - 1912
Physical Description: This Edwardian building in Federation Free Style has a four storey brick and sandstone facade featuring a central sandstone projecting bay on the first and second floors, with an open balcony above with small ionic columns and dentilled . There are narrow multi-pane windows on each side of the bay and small pediments above those on the second floor. At the top there is a large simple brick pediment and dentilated eaves. The awning, part of the original design, is claimed to be one of the first of its type in Australia, being suspended over the footpath on iron rods. Style: Federation/Art Nouveau; Storeys: 4; Facade: Brick and sandstone.Due to the extensive reconstruction of the building in 1989, only the façade remains of the original fabric.
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Historic Notes and Themes
Historical notes: The Brooklyn Hotel stands on land that that was once part of the first parade ground in Australia. It was reserved for the Marine Corps who accompanied the First Fleet in 1788. After they were relieved by the infamous NSW Corps in 1790, barracks were constructed near the present day Wynyard Square in 1792 and the parade ground was moved there between 1802 and 1807. Meehan's "Plan of the Town of Sydney in New South Wales" made for Governor Bligh in Oct 1807, has the land where the Brooklyn is now is marked as 'Old Parade'. Two storehouses were constructed near the edge of the 1788 parade ground by 1791 and appear on Philip's sketch of the town prior to his return to England and Meehan's plan.A new market was established on the land of the old parade ground in 1808, and shops were constructed. Market days were held on Wednesdays and Saturdays when outlying farmers brought their produce to Sydney for sale. The Governor ensured there were rather strict regulations on the sale of produce due to some dodgy dealings and everything had to be weighed by the clerk of the market. Further research in to the early land use of the site is required.The alignment of George Street and Charlotte Place (now Grosvenor Street) were set out when Governor Macquarie arrived and proclaimed the streets, this alignment remains except for widening of George Street in 1912.More research is required on when a portion of this land came into the ownership of the Howe family, the printers of the first newspaper in Australia, The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser. George Howe was the government printer and his first office was close to the site when he began the newspaper in 1803. His son Robert took over the newspaper and government printing on the death of George in 1821. It may have been Robert who moved the printing office to the subject site where it was in operation from 1824 until 1828.In 1831 the land on the corner was subdivided into four lots, with the government retaining ownership of an access lane from Grosvenor Street. The corner lot was purchased in 1831 by Anthony Hordern, and remained in the family's ownership until it was resumed in 1901. Anthony Hordern (1819-1876) was a draper, land speculator and local government councillor, who with his brother opened a drapery on Brickfield Hill during the 1840s. Anthony Hordern & Sons became one of the major retailing dynasties in Australia. Hordern erected a house and shop (Nottingham House Drapery) on the corner, and it had a variety of uses, including drapery, fruiterer, confectioner, restaurant and wine saloon before it was demolished in 1911.On the George Street frontage the site incorporated a shop and residence purchased by Alexander Douglas in 1831 which had a variety of uses, and a shop purchased by John Richards, which was developed in conjunction with Cleeve's Grosvenor Street site and the two sites were later used as a hotel and a dining room. The approximate site of the Brooklyn Hotel was occupied by another shop/residence, which was part of a group of comparable terrace style buildings. They were demolished in 1911 for the widening of George Street.The terrace on the Brooklyn Hotel site was occupied variously and was used as a Public House in the 1840s and 1850s and thereafter as a shop and residence with a variety of uses with tenants occupying the site including a cabinet maker in 1870, a locksmith in 1875 and an Importer and tobacconist in the late 1870s/ 1880s. The terrace was demolished between 1882 and 1884 and a new four storey Italianate Hotel building was erected. The Hotel was originally known as the Sydney and Melbourne Hotel and was renamed the Sydney Palace Hotel in 1889 and finally The Brooklyn Hotel in 1898. Johnson's Drapery also traded in one section of this building into the early 20th century.On the 5th of December 1911, an application was lodged with the City Council to demolish all seven buildings on the subject site in conjunction with the proposed road widening. The widening also required the demolition of the northern adjoining buildings on George Street. It appears from the Rate Assessment Books and Sands Directory that the Chamber of Commerce Building (Johnson's Building) and The Brooklyn Hotel were erected at the same time, in 1912. A temporary Brooklyn Hotel was located on the adjoining site, at 231 George Street, (the site of the Commercial Building) prior to the construction of the new Hotel. The temporary bar was a simple single storey structure designed by George McRae, who worked under Vernon in the Government Architects office.The Chamber of Commerce Building was officially opened in December 1912. The Chamber occupied the first floor and various commercial tenants leased the upper floors. James Johnson, who had previously occupied the Hordern Building and later the Douglas Building with his drapery store, was the first tenant in the ground floor of the Chamber of Commerce Building. The outfitting, tent making and drapery business remained at the site until 1981. The firm was also known as Johnson's Overalls, with a range of chef's and stewards' clothing and equipment. Due to this long association with one tenant, the building has become known as the Johnson's Building, and the group of three buildings including the Commercial Building (231 George Street) and the Brooklyn Hotel (229 George Street) is now referred to as the Johnson's group. The corner is known as Johnson's Corner. The Hotel was designed by W. L. Vernon before his retirement in November 1911, and shows the marked influence of the style developed during his incumbency. Clive Lucas noted in the 1987 Statement of Cultural Significance a similarity to the European and British Edwardian developments of the period. He also noted that Vernon had a large staff, including a number of Scottish architects like William Moyes, who trained under Charles Rennie Mackintosh in Glasgow.Since the 1912 construction, the hotel has had a fairly colourful patronage, associated mainly with three other historical institutions in the immediate area, being the Julian Ashton School of Arts, the Bulletin (located on George Street between 1896 and 1964) and Royal Naval House. Historically The Brooklyn Hotel had serviced a number of sailors who had boarded at RNH and was periodically owned by sea captains and operated by their wives while at sea. A number of journalists, cartoonists have also patronised the hotel along with aspiring students and actors from the nearby School of Arts. Actors including Fiona Spence and John Sheerin and comedian Julie McGregor were employed at the hotel before launching their television careers.As part of the redevelopment of the Grosvenor Place site with a high-rise tower in the late 1980s, the Johnson's Building, the Commercial Building and the Brooklyn Hotel were partially demolished and amalgamated to form single floor tenancies. The ground and first floors across the three sites were re-fitted as the third Brooklyn Hotel on the site. The fitout was designed by Gordon McDonald, of Michael Dysart and Partners.
Historical significance: The site of 229-235 George Street, The Rocks was once part of the original Parade Ground of the Colony and the site's changing use reflects the urban, economic and social development of the area from the very early days of the colony, through to the Resumption and redevelopment of The Rocks in the Edwardian period, to the present. The Brooklyn Hotel site is also noted for its continuous hotel use, with a hotel occupying the site since 1882-4. The Brooklyn Hotel, Commercial Building and Johnson's Building and the collective building group meets this criterion on the Local level. The buildings are also of State heritage significance for their contribution to The Rocks area which is of State heritage significance in its own right.
Historical association: The Brooklyn Hotel and Johnson's building were designed by Government Architect Walter Liberty Vernon in 1911 and at the time of their construction were celebrated by the Public Works Department as "an important business block". The Commercial building was designed by the NSW Government Architects Office; however the individual designer has not been identified and could be attributed to either Walter Liberty Vernon, or his successor, George McRae. In either case, the group collectively provides a unique example of the influence the European modern movement was having on Australian Architecture at the beginning of this century and the buildings have a marked similarity to contemporary European Edwardian developments. The Brooklyn Hotel and Johnsons Buildings are of State significance for their association with Vernon who was a key historical figure in the redevelopment of The Rocks following its resumption and the Government Architects Branch.
Aesthetic significance: 229-235 George Street, The Rocks is part of an homogenous Edwardian streetscape that is unparalleled elsewhere in The Rocks. As a group, the buildings (including the Federation Hall and Royal Naval House,) have considerable significance and all facades contribute to the overall richness of the group. The group also responds to the turn of the century buildings opposite on Bridge Street, namely the Metropolitan Hotel and Burns Philp buildings, contributing to the overall townscape qualities of this section of George Street. Each of the buildings also has aesthetic significance independent of the group for their picturesque facades (above awning level), high quality materials and fine detailing. The Brooklyn Hotel facade is of state significance for the high degree of integrity and architectural merit to the facade and ground floor shopfront.One of the innovations of the Johnson's building group was the awning which Building Magazine of November 12, 1912 noted as being the "first utilisation of the cantilever awning in Sydney". This element was restored following the 1989 building works based on the original although it should be noted that detail drawings were not available. It is further noted that the original awning did not wrap around the northern elevation which adjoined neighbouring commercial buildings. The element is viewed as having some significance although not original.
Social significance: The Brooklyn Hotel has a regular clientele, largely made up of office workers and tourists to the area. Its location, character, and continuity of service make it a recognisable feature in the area. Over the years, The Brooklyn Hotel has been associated mainly with three other historical institutions in the immediate area, being the Julian Ashton School of Arts, the Bulletin (located on George Street between 1896 and 1964) and Royal Naval House. A number of journalists, cartoonists are known to have patronised the hotel along with aspiring students and actors from the School of Arts. Actors including Fiona Spence and John Sheerin and comedian Julie McGregor were employed at the hotel before launching their television careers.
Research significance: The redevelopment of the site and the reconstruction of the building in 1989 required extensive excavation. The archaeological resource has been destroyed and the site has low potential for research. The significant building facades are of some interest as an example of the Australian application of the Arts and Crafts movement of design through the Federation Free Style.
Rare assessment: The buildings form a substantial group of high quality Edwardian shops and premises now unique in Sydney for its height proportion and design however the architectural style of the building is not considered rare. Vernon has not been credited with the design of many hotels in The Rocks area and The Brooklyn Hotel may be the only surviving example of his design skill as applied to small scale hotels. d integrity.
Representative assessment: Individual buildings and the collective group provide examples of Federation Free Style commercial buildings designed by the Government Architects Office. The Brooklyn Hotel is representative of Hotels in The Rocks area, and continues to partially operate as such.
Intact assessment: The Brooklyn Hotel building was extensively reconstructed in 1989, with only the façade of the building remaining of the original fabric.
Physical condition: The conservation work undertaken in the mid 1980s has left the building in reasonable condition.
|Australian Theme||NSW Theme||Local Theme|
|Developing cultural institutions and ways of life||Activities associated with recreation and relaxation.|
|Developing local, regional and national economies||Activities relating to buying, selling and exchanging goods and services.|
|Heritage Listing||Listing Title||Listing Number||Gazette Date||Gazette Number||Gazette Page|
|National Trust of Australia Register||6856||09/11/1981|
|Royal Australian Institute of Architects register||4703192|
|Heritage Act - State Heritage Register||01533||Brooklyn Hotel||10/05/2002||2867||85|
|Register of the National Estate||1/12/036/0485||Brooklyn Hotel||21/10/1980||2391|
|Heritage Act - s.170 NSW State agency heritage register||Place Management NSW|
|National Trust of Australia Register||7383||09/11/1981|
|Within a National Trust conservation area||10499|
|Register of the National Estate||1/12/036/0485||Edwardian Buildings Group||21/10/1980||2390|