ASN Hotel (former)
Statement of SignificanceThe site known as 91 George Street has historical significance as part of an important place for the Gadigal people, and as a place continuously occupied by Europeans since 1788. The land was part of the first hospital in the colony, and was the site of the Assistant Surgeon's house, later occupied by Francis Greenway. Following acquisition of the land by Frederick Unwin, the present site was leased to Michael Gannon, a former convict, who constructed a hotel building on it, and other buildings in George Street and Argyle Place (including his own house) in the early 1840s. Gannon's buildings at 91 and 93 George Street were demolished in 1890 and replaced by the present buildings, with No 91 extending partly into land formerly occupied by the earlier building at No 93 and also over the rear (now Greenway) lane, continuing the typical pattern of development in this part of The Rocks. No 91 was used as a hotel almost continuously from the 1840s until the 1980s, and was among the early properties to be conserved by the Sydney Cove Redevelopment Authority, following the Green Bans which halted the proposed wholesale demolition and redevelopment of The Rocks area. 91 George Street is aesthetically significant as a well-detailed Victorian Italianate hotel building of the late 19th century. It occupies a prominent corner position in two 19th century commercial streetscapes of State significance that demonstrates the scale, pattern and appearance of 19th century commercial development in Sydney. Its strong design relationship with the neighbouring building at 93 George Street demonstrates the functional and ownership relationship of the two buildings at the time they were constructed.The site has research and archaeological significance as part of the first hospital in the colony, with potential for the presence of remains relating to this and to the second period of development in the 1830s, as well as possible remains of the Gannon buildings of the 1840s. It also may have technical significance through the early use of concrete vaults presumably as a fire-proof floor beneath the extension of the hotel over Greenway Lane.
Pub/Hotel; Police Station
Construction Years: 1839 - 1839
Physical Description: The building is a three storied, brick built and cement rendered former hotel in the Victorian Italianate style. (CLS&P 1999) It has an unusual garland decoration below the parapet and a large cartouche (oval scrolled plaque) on the first floor splayed corner. The building was extensively altered by Tooth &Co. in 1928. In 1983 the building was again extensively remodelled to function as a police station: the 1929 detailing was removed and the 1890s Italianate details reconstructed. Style: Victorian Italianate; Storeys: 3+Basement; Roof Cladding: Corrugated Iron; Floor Frame: Timber
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Historic Notes and Themes
Historical notes: To the Gadigal people of Sydney the western shoreline of Sydney Cove (known to them as Warrane) was called Tallawolladah. The Gadigal traditional lands ranged from Darling Harbour in the west to the Heads in the east and included Manly. No evidence of Indigenous occupation is evident in the immediate vicinity due to the extensive nature of subsequent building activity. With the outbreak of Smallpox among the Indigenous people in 1789-90 many came or were brought to the hospital on the site of the future Police Station.When the First Fleet arrived in 1788 and area roughly bounded by George, Globe, Harrington and Argyle Streets was set aside for the colony's first hospital. The hospital operated on this site until 1816 when it relocated to Macquarie Street. The hospital began as two buildings roughly constructed in February 1788, the lands also included a herb and vegetable gardens. A portable hospital arrived with the 2nd Fleet in 1790 and was constructed straight away, on completion it was filled with around 500 people, convicts who were maltreated on board the 2nd Fleet convict transports.The first development on the subject site was the Assistant Surgeon's residence and garden, the house was run up in a hurry almost as soon as the First Fleet arrived. It was a lage house and sometimes described as a barrack. . By June 1796 Collins recorded that many of the earliest buildings were already falling into decay, and that extra work gangs were being organised to remedy the shortfall. He included the observation that houses were to be built for the assistant surgeons, 'those which had been erected soon after our arrival being now no longer tenable'. This suggests a date for the house of around 1796, although no specific reference to it being built has been found.When the new hospital was completed in Macquarie Street in 1816, the Assistant Surgeon, William Redfern, vacated the house on the corner of George and Argyle Streets, and it was made available to the Colonial Architect, Francis Greenway as part of his stipend. Greenway later claimed that the land had been granted to him by Macquarie in August 1820, however nothing came of this claim and successive Governors tried to evict him. Green way managed to remain in the house until c1836. Greenway sold part of the land to Fredrick Wright Unwin in 1832, even though Unwin probably knew that Greenway did not have the right. It appears Unwin purchased the land to strengthen his position to gain the land officially once Greenway left. Unwin purchased the block and acquired the title deeds in 1837, the year Greenway died.Frederic Wright Unwin, solicitor and merchant, was subsequently granted the land in 1838. Unwin had extensive landholdings in the city, particularly along the western side of George Street. On 1st July 1839, Unwin leased an area of land to Michael Gannon, carpenter, for a period of 21 years. Gannon had arrived in the colony as a convict on the Almorah in 1820 and was granted a conditional pardon in 1835.The terms of the lease required that Gannon: 'shall and will within a reasonable time and within two years at the furthest build and erect on the line of frontage to George Street as many houses as will occupy the said frontage of such dimensions as said Michael Gannon may think fit so as such houses are of three stories exclusive of cellars and built substantially and of good materials.'It is unclear from the documentary evidence whether the Assistant Surgeon/Greenway's house had been demolished by the time Gannon took on the lease. However, by 1844, when the land was conveyed to RAA Morehead and Matthew Young, Gannon had constructed a number of buildings on the land, including the New York Hotel at 91 George Street and a three-storey building at 93 George Street, as well as the terrace 95-99 George Street. Although Gannon was only required to erect buildings along the George Street frontage, the plan accompanying the conveyance in 1844 shows that the site also contained buildings along Argyle Street, and a workshop and stables accessible from the yard, all also presumed to be constructed by Gannon.The resulting configuration of the block was typical of urban planning in other quarters in The Rocks, that of a central yard, accessed through a passageway, and surrounded by buildings open to the public fronting the adjacent streets, as well as workshops or factory buildings opening primarily to the yard. Gannon was also responsible for the creation of the laneway (now known as Greenway Lane) accessing the yard from Argyle Street.The hotel at 91 George Street was constructed within 12 months of Gannon's acquiring the 21 year lease of the site, he was granted a licence for the New York Hotel, George Street, in 1840. In 1845, the hotel was described as 'stone and shingle 3 storey hotel of 15 rooms' and the building then at 93 George Street was described as a 'shop with 6 rooms.' The Sands Directory listings for the site show that the New York Hotel operated as such until 1861. Michael Gannon died circa 1846, having been declared insolvent in 1845. The insolvency records list Gannon's address as Argyle Street, and his occupation as builder. The hotel was located in a prime mercantile area of The Rocks, across the road from the docks and close to large warehouses as well as many residences. The hotel operation should have been an excellent business, but the occupational history suggests that this was not always the case. In 1860 it was let as a house and shop to Henry Fisher & Sons, who advertised as a supplier of grocery lines, preserved meats and a wide range of wine, spirits and bottled beer. Picnic parties were supplied with hampers.By 1866 the building was back to being a hotel again. Licensee J B Bassetti called it Hotel D'Italie but it soon became known as the Italian Hotel. Bassetti seems to have attempted to take the business up-market by offering a restaurant service and 'select free concerts every evening.' But it did not prosper. On one occasion he was advertising a 'stuffed leopard' for sale, so perhaps it was his sense of style that did not suit the clientele. Whatever the cause, the licence had been taken over by John Sayle by 1868 and by 1870 Bassetti was insolvent. Sayle traded under the more maritime sign of the Liverpool Arms but in 1871 and in 1872 the hotel was again for sale, and for the next six years traded as the American Hotel with various publicans. By 1879 it finally settled on the name of the ASN Company Hotel, shortened to the ASN Hotel by the mid 1880s and this name remained until it lost its licence in 1983. The 1879 panorama shows the building clearly labelled 'ASN Compy'. It has been speculated that this name may have meant that there was a relationship between the Australasian Steamship Navigation Company and this hotel. The ASN Co headquarters were located further north along George Street, now 1-5 Hickson Road.In 1870, the land containing 91 and 93 George Street was sold to William Yeoman, painter, and who, from the 1860s, owned the land at 95-101 George Street. Yeoman occupied a store which was constructed by Gannon as a workshop in the yard behind George Street. In 1885, Yeoman sold the land to John Gill.When the City Improvement Board ordered the demolition of No 93 next door on George Street in 1890, it was decided to rebuild the hotel as well. Both places were leased to the brewers Tooth & Co, and John Lord, the agent for the owner, told the Board that he was intending to make substantial repairs to the building before the lease was renewed in the following months. However, in June tenders were called for pulling it down, and by August the hotel was wanting 'two good quarrymen with tools', presumably to excavate new cellars. The new Italianate hotel retained its three storeys and cellar while the building at No 93 was reduced to two storeys with cellar. Decorative features were common to both buildings. The Sands Directory contains no listing for either building in 1891, possibly as both buildings were under construction at the time. When listed again in 1892, the ASN Hotel was under a new licensee, RB Goof, and 93 George Street housed O'Neill & Co, outfitters. O'Neill & Co remained in the building until 1907, when it became refreshment rooms. The ASN Hotel continued to operate as a hotel tied to Tooth & Co, under a number of different sub-leases, for most of the 20th century.Following the outbreak of plague in Sydney's waterfront areas in 1900, the property was turned over to the Crown as part of the resumption of the entire Rocks area. Following this resumption, the Maritime Services Board administered leases of 91 and 93 George Street until 12th January 1970, when ownership was taken over by the Sydney Cove Redevelopment Authority. In the early 20th century legislation to restrict the hours of opening for public houses encouraged some hotels, especially those located on the waterfront, to opt for opening early and closing early. The ASN Hotel was an 'early opener', where a man coming off shift on the wharves or in the warehouses could get a drink at 6.30 am. It also offered basic accommodation, again mostly availed of by men. Alterations to the hotel building at 93 George Street took place in c1916, 1922, and in 1928-9. During the latter 20th century, the Licensing Court and Police issued several notices to carry out repairs to the ASN Hotel. The hotel continued to accommodate a varying number of lodgers during this time. By the 1970s, the ASN Hotel was trading poorly in comparison to other hotels in The Rocks under Tooth & Co supervision. A 1974 report stated that the ASN Hotel sold '10 kilderkins [5 barrels] and 20 dozens of packaged beer' per week, while the other four Tooth's hotels in The Rocks (Fortune of War, Mercantile, Australian, and Glenmore) averaged 60 kilderkins (30 barrels) and 115 dozens of packaged beer on a weekly basis. In 1976, Tooth's terminated its head lease with the Sydney Cove Redevelopment Authority and hotelkeepers began to lease their premises directly from the Authority.In 1979 the Authority proposed reconstructing the ground floor to its 1890s appearance, and drawings showing the proposal were prepared by Michael Fox and Associates. As a first step, in 1981 the awning was removed. The biggest changes came when the hotel ceased trading on Australia Day 1983, and it was converted to a police station, necessitating a major reconfiguration of internal spaces. The conversion works were designed by the NSW Government Architect, with consultants Littlemore and Associates. However, a number of the alterations shown on the drawings for this work appear not to have been carried out: for example, removal of the chimneybreast in the corner room on the first floor. At the same time the 1890s Victorian Italianate façades were reconstructed to designs by the Authority, with a couple of additional flourishes (such as the date on the parapet) not sanctioned by documentary evidence.The police station opened just before Christmas in 1983 and moved across the road to 132- 134 George Street in 1998. In 1999 the Authority carried out conservation works documented by Brian McDonald and Associates, architects, removing some of the alterations made for the police station (for example, reinstating the entrance from George Street) to adapt the building for commercial purposes. Since then there have been a number of commercial tenants, including a fish restaurant. Following further internal alterations in 2008, it is currently a chocolate shop.
Historical significance: The site of 91 George Street has an important association with the historical development of Sydney, since European settlement in 1788, and earlier with the Gadigal people of Sydney Harbour. To the Gadigal the site formed part of a strip of land along the western shore of Warrane (Sydney Cove) which they called "Tallawolladah". The fact that this area was named denotes it as a special or particular place for the indigenous peoples of Sydney Harbour before the coming of the Europeans. In the early decades of European settlement there is evidence of continuing visitations to the site by Indigenous people. This land became part of the site of the Assistant Surgeons' house and associated garden within the first hospital compound established in 1788. The site is therefore important as being part of the earliest European settled part of Australia, with specific importance in the establishment of medical practice. When the general hospital relocated to Macquarie Street in 1816, the assistant surgeons' house was allocated to Francis Greenway by Governor Macquarie. The Assistant Surgeons' land was sold to FW Unwin in 1838 and was immediately leased to William Reynolds and Michael Gannon, who were both convicts who made their way in the colony through building construction and both of them have residences known by their names on the block in which 91 George Street stands - Gannon House in Argyle Street and Reynolds' Cottages in Harrington Street.91 George Street was built in 1890 as a hotel called the ASN Hotel. It replaced an older hotel of this name and of several other names - New York Hotel, Italian Hotel, Liverpool Arms, American Hotel. The original New York Hotel was built by Michael Gannon in 1840 and in that year he obtained the publican's license for it. Except for five years in the 1860s, 91 George Street was continuously the site of a hotel from the 1840s until 1983. The hotel provided a service to the working population of the docks, the Commissariat Stores and the later commercial and government buildings in the vicinity. Proximity to residential places such as the Sailor's Home and the houses of private citizens in The Rocks ensured its viability. It is one of a suite of hotels in the area that performed this role, including the Orient Hotel on the opposite, northern side of Argyle Street. Together these two hotels provided a substantial presence and entrance to what is arguably the most significant street in The Rocks.Changes to the internal spaces of the building reflected changing clientele as the area went from being part of the bustling seaport to a run-down slum area by the late decades of the 19th Century. Most notably, spaces for women were reduced. Its reconfiguration as a police station in 1983 and more recently as commercial premises catering to the tourist trade illustrate the changing character and functions of The Rocks as a social and cultural place. The item meets this criterion at a STATE level.The historical significance of 91 George Street is demonstrated by:?The site's association with the first Hospital and the Assistant Surgeons' house.?Its reflection of poor early building practice and with the history of building regulation through the work of the City of Sydney Improvement Board. ?Its role as a public house in the social life of the port area of Sydney Cove.?The male dominated culture of the area until the last decades of the 20th Century. ?Its relationship to 93 George Street and to the rear lane, reflecting approaches to town planning typical of The Rocks from the 1840s to the 1890s.
Historical association: NB. Since the Conservational Management Plan was adopted this criteria has beenrevised to STATE.The site of 91 George Street is associated with the colony's first hospital. Early colonial illustrations of the site give prominence to the hospital precinct. The site formed part of the land on which the Assistant Surgeons' house or barrack was built, which was occupied by Dr William Redfern, D'Arcy Wentworth, William Balmain and others.The site is associated with Francis Greenway who is recognised as the first significant NSW architect. Under the patronage of Governor Macquarie, Greenway was instrumental in creating buildings and town planning schemes which have left a large legacy. Many of his buildings that remain today are amongst the best loved buildings of Sydney and of the surrounding early town settlements. It is associated with Michael Gannon who built an earlier public house on the site and was its first publican. It is also associated with Tooth & Company, which was brewing in Sydney from 1834, and which rebuilt the hotel in 1890, and peripherally with the Australasian Steam Navigation Company through its name. The Anglo- Dutch warehouses of this company were built further north on the opposite side of George Street (now 1-5 Hickson Road) in 1884. 91 George Street site meets this criterion at a STATE level.The associational significance of the site of 91 George Street is demonstrated by:?The site's association with the Assistant Surgeons' house, occupied by a number of surgeons including William Redfern, D'Arcy Wentworth, William Balmain and others and later by Francis Greenway who lived on the site for nearly twenty years. The associational significance of 91 George Street building is demonstrated by?Association with early builders and developers including Michael Gannon, and with other important commercial enterprises in Sydney including Tooth and Company and the Australian Steamship Navigation Company.
Aesthetic significance: 91 George Street is aesthetically significant as a well-detailed Victorian Italianate hotel building of the late 19th century. It occupies a prominent corner position in two 19th century commercial streetscapes (George Street and Argyle Place) of State significance that demonstrates the scale, pattern and appearance of 19th century commercial development in Sydney. The former hotel was rebuilt in conjunction with No 93 George Street in the 1890s, and shares many decorative details with its smaller and less prominent neighbour. The reconstruction by the Authority of the 1890s configuration of the ground floor exterior, and the removal of the awning, has enhanced the contribution the building makes to the streetscape.The item meets this criterion at a STATE level.The aesthetic significance of 91 George Street is demonstrated by:?The late 19th century scale, form, detailing and decoration of the George Street and Argyle Place facades of the building.?The strong design relationship (reflecting the former functional and ownership relationship) between the building and the former shop and residence at No 93 George Street.One aspect of the building may have technical significance: the use of shallow concrete vaults supported on steel beams to form the ceiling and floor above of the extension over Greenway Lane. This form of construction had been used earlier (for example, in the GPO and Lands Department buildings) but its use in less prestigious buildings appears to have been rare in the late 19th century.
Social significance: 91 George Street is an integral part of the precinct of The Rocks which is valued for its overall heritage significance and for its links to the Green Bans movement of the 1970s. It may therefore have some social significance for present and past members of The Rocks community. However, several changes of use and tenancy since the advent of the Authority have diminished the social significance that the place might once have had as a hotel.
Research significance: The site has archaeological potential relating to the two phases of the Assistant Surgeons' House from 1788 to c1837. The site has potential to yield further information regarding its occupants, notably Dr. William Redfern, D'Arcy Wentworth, William Balmain and architect Francis Greenway. It is also possible that building fabric from this first phase of occupation may survive, including a stone wall located east of the house and running parallel to its facade, and a wooden structure built immediately to the west by Sergeant James during the same period.Archaeological evidence may also exist beneath the cellar of the original New York Hotel built in c.1840, and beneath the present garbage room in the former rear yard of the hotel. Sub-floor and inter-floor deposits have the potential to yield further archaeological evidence regarding the site's use and occupants from 1890 onwards. While mostly disturbed, the site area of 91 George Street has the potential to yield evidence of indigenous and contact archaeology within its former rear yard area. The item meets this criterion at a STATE level.The research significance of 91 George Street is demonstrated by:?Archaeological potential relating to the two phases of the Assistant Surgeons House, including the yard areas ?The potential evidence of the house's occupants, notably Dr. William Redfern, D'arcy Wentworth, William Balmain and Francis Greenway ?Possible evidence of earlier building phases of the original c.1840 New York Hotel building ?The archaeological potential for sub-floor, inter-floor and wall cavity deposits The archaeological significance of 91 George Street is demonstrated by: ?The area of potential remains relating to the two phases of Assistant Surgeons House built shortly after settlement in 1788 and reconstructed in c1796, and possible remnants of the c.1840 hotel and the wooden structure built by Sergeant James. Archaeological remains of rear sheds and associated features are likely to be present beneath the former yard area, now beneath the garbage room for Guylian's Cafe.
Rare assessment: According to the Clive Lucas Stapleton CMP, the two buildings at 91 and 93 George Street are the only Victorian Italianate style buildings in The Rocks. This would qualify them to be assessed as rare at a local level. However, because this style is so widespread throughout the older parts of Sydney, especially the government buildings designed by the Colonial Architect in the second half of the nineteenth century, it is not considered that the former hotel building at No 91 is sufficiently uncommon to be assessed as rare under this criterion
Representative assessment: The former ASN Hotel is not untypical of city hotels of the Victorian period: located on a street corner, three storeys high, with a cellar for beer storage and probably cooking, a ground floor with a corner entrance, a bar and parlour, and two floors of accommodation with shared facilities on the upper floors. This layout, only partly changed in the 1920s to increase the number of bars, has been significantly altered since the hotel ceased trading. Nevertheless, the building retains sufficient original or reconstructed fabric to demonstrate the principal characteristics of its type. Moreover, its Victorian Italianate style is also typical of many buildings constructed in Sydney during the second half of the nineteenth century.The building meets this criterion at a LOCAL level.The representativeness of 91 George Street is demonstrated by: ?Its location, form and plan layout which were typical of hotel design from the late 19th century to the early 20th century.?Its eclectic Victorian Italianate style, with typical elements of a rusticated stucco ground floor wall and upper floor quoins, arched openings to the ground floor, stucco moulded window architraves, and a decorative frieze and cornice below the parapet.
Intact assessment: Potential archaeological resource
Physical condition: Considerable extent of early (to 1928) fabric lost; existing fabric in good condition. Archaeology Assessment Condition: Mostly disturbed. Assessment Basis: Cellars or basements below.
|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.|
|Peopling the continent||Activities relating to incarceration, transport, reform, accommodation and working during the convict period in NSW (1788-1850) - does not include activities associated with the conviction of persons in NSW that are unrelated to the imperial 'convict system': use the theme of Law & Order for such activities.|
|Marking the phases of life||Activities of, and associations with, identifiable individuals, families and communal groups.|
|Heritage Listing||Listing Title||Listing Number||Gazette Date||Gazette Number||Gazette Page|
|Heritage Act - State Heritage Register||01527||10/05/2002|
|Heritage Act - State Heritage Register - Former|
|Register of the National Estate||1/12/036/0380||21/10/1980|
|National Trust of Australia Register||6560||04/04/1997|
|Register of the National Estate||1/12/036/0381||21/10/1980|
|National Trust of Australia Register||7716||27/02/1978|
|Management Plan||Clive Lucas Stapleton & Partners||2006||Conservation Management Plan ASN Hotel, 91 George Street, The Rocks|