NSW Housing Board Building (former)
Statement of SignificanceThe site of 16-18 George Street is of State significance as part of The Rocks area, the earliest settled part of Australia. The present building on the site is also of State significance as the physical embodiment of two important phases in the history of NSW: the resumption of The Rocks and Millers Point in 1901, and the establishment of the first public housing schemes. The building was constructed as offices for both the Resumed Properties Department and the NSW Housing Board, and designed by the Board's architect, William Foggitt. It also marks the south-western corner of The Rocks precinct that was placed under the control of the Sydney Cove Redevelopment Authority in 1968. The building is aesthetically significant for the well-detailed exterior and interior of its lower floors, and for its prominent location on three street frontages. It is a rare surviving example of the work of William Foggitt, who was responsible for significant public housing in The Rocks and elsewhere.The potential archaeological remains at 16-18 Grosvenor Street are overall of State Significance, as they are expected to include the footings of buildings built around the 1810s and associated artefact deposits. These early deposits have the ability to address a range ofimportant archaeological research questions relating to the early British settlement of Sydney. The present building is thought to have had only a moderate overall impact on the potential archaeological remains, with around two-thirds of the site assessed as havingmoderate or high archaeological potential. In those areas the remains are expected to be relatively intact, and readily able to be interpreted.
Government Building, Police Station
Government and Administration
Builder/Maker: J McCarthy
Construction Years: 1921 - 1921
Physical Description: Style: Severe; Storeys: 4The building sits solidly and prominently on the corner and is a simple building of the Inter-War period, displaying limited features of the stripped classical style. The brick and stone entry portal on Grosvenor Street is the most decorative feature externally. The interiors partitions have been built in line with original design intent, and some original features remain.Completed in 1921, the building is constructed of exposed dark brick on three main levels plus basement with access onto Gloucester Street which is the lowest frontage. The brickwork is laid in English Bond relieved by a modicum of stone dressing, both ashlar and attenuated pitch faced, used for ground level quoins and the Grosvenor Street central frontispiece. A further relief to this rather severe building is provided by rendered lintels and continuous frieze. An extra storey was constructed circa the late 1930's to a coherent design although the window sashes and sill bricks differ. (SCRA 1982: GL/01)
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Historic Notes and Themes
Historical notes: The first structures were built on the site sometime before 1810. The 1802 plan of Lesueur shows buildings in the vicinity of the site. However this map is only schematic in its representation of the area, leaving out either Cumberland or Gloucester Streets. Meehan's1807 map of Sydney does not show any structures on the site, although it does show the early alignments of Cumberland, Grosvenor and Gloucester Streets. By about 1809, however, the land within the study area was already associated with the families who would later build on the site. A fieldbook sketch by Surveyor-General Charles Grimes, dating to 1803-1807 does show the two lots closest to what is now the corner of Gloucester, Grosvenor and Cumberland Streets leased by 'S Ikin' and 'M'Avoy' with the annotation '5 ½'. These annotations almost certainly refer to Sarah Ikin and Sarah McAvoy. Sarah Ikin was the mother of Alexander Ikin, who was the later owner of this parcel of land. Sarah McAvoy (born c.1802) was the daughter of Hugh McAvoy and Mary Palmer, both emancipated convicts. She received a lease for 5½ perches (139.1m2) in 1810, and this almost certainly is the block shown on Grimes' sketch.A memorial on behalf of Sarah, dated 29 January 1810, states that this land had earlier been leased to her by Colonel Paterson. No mention is made in this memorial of any buildings, which suggests that Sarah's land was initially undeveloped while Hugh McAvoy and his family were living on another block, possibly on Windmill Row (later Princes Street, now under the Bradfield Highway).It was probably during the 1810s that houses were built on the study area. Alexander Ikin was building a house on the property in 1816, according to later testimony in the Court of Claims by his brother William. This house is probably the one shown on the corner ofGrosvenor and Gloucester Streets on Harper's 1823 map of Sydney. This building is notable because it remained on the site until around 1920. According to later plans and descriptions it was constructed of brick on stone foundations, with a paved verandah.In May 1818 Hugh McAvoy sold some land on behalf of his daughter Sarah 'adjoining his premises in Cumberland Street' to Alexander Ikin. This reference may be evidence of buildings on the site by that date, possibly the building shown on the 1823 map.By 1823 there were three structures within the study area. Based on the boundaries formalised in the late 1830s two of these were owned by Alexander Ikin, while the third was held by Christopher Crane, who gained control of the land following his marriage to Sarah McAvoy in November 1821. Neither Ikin nor Crane appears to have lived on the property.Alexander Ikin appears to have offered his house for lease in 1823, while in 1822 Christopher Crane published a warning against anyone buying the 'dwelling house and premises, situate near to the Church of St. Philip, and close to Charlotte-place, in the present occupancy of Hugh McAvoy'.Two descriptions of Ikin's property from this period explicitly mention that there was a 'good well' on the site.During the 1830s, Ikin appears to have begun constructing two two-storey stone houses on the part of his land facing Cumberland Street. At the time of his death in 1838 only one of these terraces was completed, when they were advertised for auction, although a sale never took place. Based on later plans these were probably stone terraces. An advertisement from 1843 suggests that they featured a 'right of gateway' between the two houses, over which one of the terraces extended.In 1839 the land tenure of the site was formalised when deeds of grant were given. Thomas Bray & Edward McRoberts, as trustees of the will of Alexander Ikin received lot 15, section 64; Christopher Crane received lot 16, section 64. These grants recognised land ownership which extended back to at least the early 1820s.Although the land-use history of lot 16 is a little unclear, the lot appears to have been sold by Christopher Crane during the 1840s and a two-storey brick house probably constructed on the site by 1848, based on rate assessment books.During the 1840s Ikin's property continued to be leased, although it was offered for sale in subdivided lots in 1843. The property description included the house and kitchen at the corner of Gloucester and Grosvenor Streets, weatherboard stables and two adjoining stone houses on Cumberland Street. The property failed to sell in 1843, and it was again offered for sale in 1850, with no major changes from its description. One of the tenants was a Mr and Mrs Waller, who used the property as a boarding house and possibly also a timber yard.Major construction works took place on the site between 1850 and 1853. In 1850 all of lot 15 was sold by the trustees of Alexander Ikin to William Stuart Moutry. A plan of the site was made in 1850 when lot 15 was sold. This shows few changes on the site since 1823, except for the addition of a kitchen to the corner building and a small, isolated structure near the stables, which may have been a privy.In 1853, Moutry appears to have considered moving and an advertisement for sale of property appeared in August of that year. It described the extent of the changes made under Moutry. The existing house on the corner of Gloucester Street had been refurbished at this time and water connected. The two stone terraces on Cumberland Street, which had been had been begun by Alexander Ikin in the late 1830s, were 'put in thorough repair' and leased to 'respectable tenants'. Most significantly, a new three-storey 'family residence' on the corner of Cumberland Street and Charlotte Place (now Grosvenor Street) and three attached three-storey terrace houses facing Cumberland Street had been constructed. The terraces did not have a cellar, but did have foundations 'sufficiently deep admit of cellarage underneath them'. These new buildings were apparently designed for a 'family hotel', but this intention appears never to have been carried through. According to later plans and descriptions, the new buildings were brick on stone foundations. After 1853 no major changes appear to have taken place on the site until after 1865 when the site was surveyed for the Trigonometrical Survey of Sydney. Between 1865 and 1880, when the site was surveyed again, the two stone terraces on Cumberland Street were demolished and replaced by two single-storey sheds, one made of brick or stone, the other of timber. The houses on the block were demolished around 1920 and the current building was constructed. in 1921. The evidence suggests that this building only had a moderate impact overall on the archaeological potential of earlier phases of buildings. Photographs of the demolition of the previous buildings in 1920 suggest that the site was levelled, but do not indicate any deep excavations.The building was occupied by the following government bodies: - The NSW Housing Board- The Resumed Properties Department- The Grain Elevation Construction Branch- The Department of Agriculture - The Prisons Department occupied the building from 1930 and eventually took over occupancy from earlier occupants. In 1974 The Police Department occupied the building but thus far it is unknown whether they remained there until 1983 when the Rocks Police moved into the former ASN Co Hotel cnr George & Harrington.The building was originally under the control of the NSW Housing Board, but in 1927 it passed to the Sydney Harbour Trust, then to the Maritime Services Board newly set up in December 1935. In 1970 the building was vested in the Sydney Cove Redevelopment Authority. (SCRA 1982: GL/01)From 1999 the building has been leased to Grosvenor Street Holdings Pty Ltd
Historical significance: The present building on the site reflects one of the most important phases of the history of The Rocks: the resumption of the whole area by the NSW Government in 1901. The resumption led to the need for the government to administer the properties now under its control, and as a result what had been the Public Wharfs Department became the Resumed Properties Department, one of the two departments for which the building was constructed.The building also reflects the importance of public housing as part of the social reforms at the end of the 19th century and beginning of the 20th century, culminating in the formation of the NSW Housing Board (for which the building was constructed) in 1912.The building was recorded in 1931 and 1932 as 'Charlotte Building' and in 1970 as 'Charlotte House', a name associating the structure with Charlotte Place, the former name of Grosvenor Street between c1810 and 1889, and which remained in popular local usage into the early 20th century, making it a historic place name important in the pattern of local history.The potential archaeological remains of the mostly residential structures and occupation of the site relate to the development of Sydney as a city and of the Rocks specifically. The site and its potential archaeological remains reflects the full process of land alienation, from clearing of the land to first houses at the beginning of the nineteenth century to their replacement by more substantial buildings and the current structures.The building also has some historical significance relating to the more recent history of The Rocks, as it marks the south-western corner of The Rocks precinct that was placed under the control of the Sydney Cove Redevelopment Authority in 1968.Overall the item meets this criterion at a STATE level.
Historical association: The building has an association with its architect, William Foggitt, who was the architect for the NSW Housing Board, the other department originally intended to occupy the building.Foggitt is best known for his work on Daceyville Garden Suburb, the flagship project of the Housing Board established by the first Labor government of NSW. Foggitt redesigned part of the suburb in 1914, after criticism of the extravagance of the 1912 scheme designed by John Sulman and John Hennessey. He also designed a number of public housing projects, including one in Gloucester, Cumberland and Little Essex Streets, The Rocks, of which only remnants survive.The archaeological remains are not closely associated with any particularly prominent individuals. However, the site is associated with two children of convicts (Alexander Ikin and Sarah McEvoy). Although Alexander Ikin probably did live at the site, Sarah McEvoy's father may have lived at the site. Other early tenants may have been former convicts or their children. These connections do loosely associate the archaeological remains with the broader group of convicts. However this association is not particularly strong.Overall the item meets this criterion at a LOCAL level.
Aesthetic significance: The building is a relatively modest display of some Federation Free style features typical of William Foggitt's pre-War work. Its ability to demonstrate this style has been diminished by the removal of the original parapet and addition of a less architecturally distinguished extra floor and parapet in 1949. The building is nevertheless something of a landmark, occupying a prominent position on two street corners, and in fact marking the south-western corner of The Rocks precinct. The building demonstrates some technical innovations such as the use of awning windows, which are an early use of this window type. The innovative characteristic of awning windows is their ability to provide up to twice the openable area for ventilation of the conventional double-hung window, a significant factor for large, open-plan office spaces before the introduction of air conditioning. The reinforced concrete stairs, timber and steel structure, and architectural style, on the other hand, were by 1923 either well established or, in terms of the style, somewhat outdated. The overall composition, therefore, reflects a transitional stage in the development of such buildings in Sydney, successfully combining both innovative and traditional elements. Internally the building has a number of elements of aesthetic significance, including the stair, original joinery and ceilings.Overall the item meets this criterion at a LOCAL level.
Social significance: The building at 16-18 Grosvenor Street, The Rocks has important social associations for the State and the local community due to its role as headquarters for the Resumed Properties Department and to house other government departments including: Agriculture, Prisons and for a short time Government Housing Office.The building meets this criterion at State level providing evidence of government practices through the middle of the Twentieth Century.
Research significance: The site at 16-18 Grosvenor Street has been assessed as containing potential remains primarily associated with domestic occupation of the site from at least the 1810s up to 1920.These remains include both structural remains and artefact containing deposits. The impact from the present building has been assessed as only being moderate, with around two-thirds of the site having moderate to high archaeological potential. The potential archaeological resource is expected to have the ability to address a variety of research questions.Overall the item meets this criterion at a STATE level.
Rare assessment: The building at 16-18 Grosvenor Street is a relatively rare example of a well-preserved small government office in Sydney demonstrating an architectural design that is of uncommon interest in marking the transition between pre-Great War artistic styles and inter-warmodernist styles, and also a rare surviving example of the work of its architect, William Foggitt.The kind of archaeological resource expected at 16-18 Grosvenor Street is rare in NSW.Although several sites pre-dating 1820 with a high level of preservation have been recorded in The Rocks area, generally colonial sites of this age are rare in Greater Sydney.Archaeological remains from the mid to late 19th century are more common in Sydney, but sites with well preserved deposits are still notable.Overall the item meets this criterion at a STATE level..
Representative assessment: The building at 16-18 Grosvenor Street is representative of the known work of William Foggitt, of which it has the principal characteristics, and is a fine example of a type, in this case early 20th century office buildings with features such as an open plan layout andawning windows.The assessment has found that about two-thirds of the site area has either moderate or high archaeological potential. In these areas the potential archaeological resource is expected to be to be relatively intact and readily interpretable. For this reason the potential archaeological resource has the ability to demonstrate the characteristics of the early and mid 19th-century structures which previously stood on the site.Overall the item meets this criterion at a LOCAL level.
Intact assessment: The archaeological resource in areas of moderate and high archaeological potential, which is expected to be relatively intact and readily interpretable.
Physical condition: The building is in excellent condition. (P Wyborn 1999).Archaeology assessment Condition: Partly disturbed. Assessment Basis: Terraced into hill slope.
|Australian Theme||NSW Theme||Local Theme|
|Governing||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.|
|Heritage Listing||Listing Title||Listing Number||Gazette Date||Gazette Number||Gazette Page|
|Royal Australian Institute of Architects register|
|Heritage Act - State Heritage Register||01564||NSW Housing Board Building||10/05/2002||2868||85|
|Heritage Act - s.170 NSW State agency heritage register||Place Management NSW|