Corn Exchange - part of Commercial Group
Statement of SignificanceThe Corn Exchange Building is of state significance as it is one of the last remnants of the wharfside warehousing and commercial area that serviced Sydney's commercial and trading sector from the mid nineteenth century into the mid twentieth century. The Corn Exchange is the earliest remaining market building in Sydney. It was designed by the City Architect, George McRae, who is best remembered for his design of the Queen Victoria Building. With its distinctive curved façade and roofscape, albeit modified, it is a landmark building that contributes to the built heritage definition of the western city portal to the City together with the other remaining buildings of this era in Sussex Street.
Part of Hotel
Construction Years: 1887 - 0
Physical Description: The Corn Exchange Building is a stucco-fronted three-storey structure with elliptical arches at street level and a curving corner at the southern end. Two levels face Sussex Street with a basement below facing west. The slated roof of the building is an assembly of pyramidal and hipped gable shapes with a simple curved roof matching the façade to the south. The existing fixed shop-front glazing is painted white or obscured by curtains. While it has been extensively modified over the years, the building remains a good example of Queen Anne style commercial architecture.InteriorThe ground and first floors framing, which consists of a mixture of brick piers and circular cast iron columns supporting riveted composite wrought iron girders, remains. The exposed roof framing and timber lining boards required considerable replacement during the 1990s conservation works. By the 1980s only scant evidence remained of the early internal partitioning of the ground and first floors. The open plan floor plate was retained during the 1990 alterations for the adaptive re-use and fitout as a small department store and restaurant. (Tanner and Associates Pty Ltd, HIS, 2001)
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Historic Notes and Themes
Historical notes: The Corn Exchange building, built in 1887 on the corner of Sussex and Market Streets, is the earliest remaining market building in Sydney. It was designed by the City Architect, George McRae, who later designed the Queen Victoria Building, for use as a temporary fruit market. The building incorporated a German system of brick and cast-iron structural framing in an attempt to make the building fire-resistant. The Corn Exchange Building operated as a fruit market for only four years before being converted into offices with posted street-level awnings, in accord with the original design intent of the architect. In 1900, the building was renamed the Corn Exchange during a private attempt to establish the City's grain market in the building. As transport links away from the inner harbour improved, interest in the Corn Exchange dwindled and from 1917 a succession of commercial tenants inhabited the upper levels of the building. By 1934, the posts had been removed and the awnings were suspended. By the late 1960s the awnings had been removed altogether. The unoccupied basement was a haven for the homeless throughout much of this time.Both this building and the Central Warehouse underwent considerable alteration and suffered degradation of the original fabric prior to their incorporation in the Nikko Hotel redevelopment of the early 1990s. Work on the Corn Exchange at that time included conservation works to the surviving significant fabric, as well as extensive alterations to facilitate its adaptive reuse as a small department store and restaurant. The roller shutters to Sussex Street openings were removed and replaced with timber-framed display windows. (Tanner and Associates Pty Ltd, HIS, 2001)
Historical significance: The Corn Exchange Building meets this criterion at a state level as it demonstrates the development of commercial activities in the western zone of the Sydney Central Business District since the nineteenth century. Its original use as a fruit market, then office accommodation and produce stores, followed by a period of neglect before an adaptive reuse development for commercial and retail tenancies reflects the on-going evolution of uses in this part of Sydney. The most recent use represents a conscious acceptance of adaptive reuse of existing building stock by government and private enterprise, reflecting the changing attitudes to heritage development in Sydney.
Historical association: The Corn Exchange Building meets this criterion at a state level for it was designed by City Architect George McRae, who in later years designed the Queen Victoria Building and became the Government Architect for the State.
Aesthetic significance: The Corn Exchange Building meets this criterion at a local level for it is a late-nineteenth century produce market building that together with other remaining buildings of this era is part of a homogenous group of buildings that defines the heritage character of Sussex Street near Market Street. Its location at the western portal to the city endows the building with a landmark status as its curved façade and roofscape, albeit modified, has an admirable streetscape presence resulting from the richly detailed Queen Anne style façade treatment.
Rare assessment: The Corn Exchange Building meets this criterion at a state level for a) it is one of the last remnants of nineteenth century wharf-side warehouse type developments on Sussex Street around Market Street and also has historic associations with the City Council's markets, sale yard and Market Wharf, and b) it is the earliest remaining market building in New South Wales erected by a municipal council.
Physical condition: Likely to be disturbed
|Australian Theme||NSW Theme||Local Theme|
|Developing local, regional and national economies||Activities relating to buying, selling and exchanging goods and services.|
|Developing local, regional and national economies||Activities associated with the breeding, raising, processing and distribution of livestock for human use.|
|Heritage Listing||Listing Title||Listing Number||Gazette Date||Gazette Number||Gazette Page|
|Register of the National Estate||1/12/036/0150||Corn Exchange and Fruit Market (former),||21/03/1978||1944|
|National Trust of Australia Register||6507|
|Heritage Act - s.170 NSW State agency heritage register||Place Management NSW|
|Heritage Act - State Heritage Register||1619||The Corn Exchange||28/06/2002||4987||106|