Shops and Residences, Terrace
Statement of SignificanceThe site known as 95-99 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 stores building on it in the early 1840s. Gannon's building was demolished and replaced by the present group of three buildings in 1867. They have been continuously occupied and used for commercial purposes since then, with alterations to the buildings and site especially at the rear. These buildings were 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. It thus has social significance for The Rocks community.Apart from its associations with Greenway, Unwin and Gannon, the place also has associations with another early builder in the area, William Yeoman, who traded from No 97 for several years and built a large store across Greenway Lane. The building at No 97 also has associations with Dr Mary Booth, the Empire Services Club and the Dreadnought Scheme of the early 20th century.95-99 George Street has aesthetic significance as a well preserved and early commercial and residential building from the mid- Victorian period, containing significant interiors as well as providing an important contribution to a 19th century commercial streetscape of State significance. The cellar of No 95 contains an item of technical significance: a timber cool room from the mid-19th century.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.
Shop and Residences
Retail and Wholesale
Construction Years: 1868 - 1868
Physical Description: Nos 95-99 George Street comprises a row of three two storey late Victorian shops in the Victorian Italianate style, with original shop fronts to the ground floor. The façade is stuccoed, with heavily moulded architraves around the first floor windows below a prominent but simple cornice and parapet. The timber windows have single pane sashes within arched openings. (National Trust 1977) A cool room from the late 1800s still survives in the basement of No 95. (Doring 1990) No 99 has a stone basement which may be part of the earlier c.1840 building. In 1985, the timber framed street awnings were reconstructed and a pediment constructed with the date '1868' centred over No 97 George Street. (Clive Lucas Stapleton 1999: 10 & 21) The rear of the buildings back onto a pedestrian laneway called Greenway Lane. Style: Victorian Italianate; Storeys: 2; Facade: Stuccoed brick walls; Roof Cladding: 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 large 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.In July 1839 Unwin leased the land to Michael Gannon on the express condition that he develop it, the lease agreement 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 St 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.'A plan of Gannon's 1844 lease shows that by that time he had erected a number of buildings fronting George and Argyle Streets, including the New York Hotel at 91 George, his own business premises at 43-45 Argyle St and three shops on the subject site. The rate assessments indicate the buildings were three storey shops with dwellings, brick or stone construction and of eight rooms. In the same year Gannon took out a mortgage with Joseph Samuel Hanson and was insolvent by 1847, forcing him to sell the leasehold to Hanson. Unwin, the holder of the freehold title was also in financial trouble and also declared insolvency in 1847. The title to the property was purchased by two investors, Robert Archibald Morehead and Mathew Young, in 1844 for £2 300. In 1861, probably because they had become rather rundown, the buildings at 95-99 George St were vacated and the buildings demolished. The land remained vacant until c1867 when the present building was constructed, possibly to a pattern book design, by William Bradridge. Bradridge placed an add for tenders from bricklayers for three shops and dwellings in George St North in the Sydney Morning Herald in Feb 1867 which may relate to the construction of the subject buildings. By 1868, Gannon's assignment of the lease to Hanson had expired and the subsequent lease arrangements have not been located. In 1870, Moorehead and Young sold the land to William Yeoman, a painter who already occupied the premises at 97 George St. As a lengthy gap frequently occurred in the 19th century between effectively taking ownership of land and having the change of ownership registered with the Government, it is possible that Yeoman took over the land and caused the improvements to be carried out prior to officially having the land conveyed to him.The council rates of 1871 describe the new terrace of shops and dwellings as each of two storeys of five rooms of brick construction with an iron roof. They were occupied by 1868, with a butcher in No 95 and a grocer in No 99, these buildings continued to be used for those businesses for the next 20 years. Yeoman remained in No 97 until 1873.In 1885 Yeoman sold the property to grazier John Gill of Moonbi for £9000, an amount inflated by the financial boom of the time. Gill also acquired most of the land in the block bounded by George, Argyle and Harrington Streets and Suez Canal.Following the outbreak of the Bubonic plague in Sydney in 1900, the property, along with the rest of The Rocks and Millers Point was resumed by the Government. Following this resumption the Maritime Services Board administered the properties until ownership was taken over by the Sydney Cove Redevelopment Authority.The shop at No 95 was Thomas Claydon's butcher from 1868 until 1902, then Joseph Brigg's butchery until 1908. The cool room in the cellar from this early use of the building still remains. A clothier, initially Cohen Bros, then later Abraham Cliffe replaced the butchery and Cliffe continued to trade there until 1922. After this the shop became a grocer until the 1950s.Of the three shops No 97 had the most varied occupation history, tenants including Yeoman, a painter, then a fishmonger, restaurant, hairdresser and bird dealer occupied the premises for almost 30 years until 1906. Between 1923 and 1931 the Empire Service Club had a reading room in No 97. This club was formed by the ANZAC Fellowship of Women under Dr Mary Booth's leadership in 1923 as a welfare organisation for boys brought to Australia to train as farm labourers under the 'Dreadnought scheme' between 1911 and 1939.99 George St was continually used as a grocers and run by a number of tenants until the 1970s.In 1970 control of the land was vested in the Sydney Cove Redevelopment Authority. The commercial use of the buildings has continued, however they no longer have a residential component. In the late 1970s and early 1980s the SCRA undertook restoration and reconstruction works on the terrace of shops.The shops were occupied by The Rocks Café, the Sydney Cove Pharmacy and the Sydney Cove Newsagency from c1983, a use that continues.
Historical significance: The site of 95 -99 George Street has an important association with the historical development of Sydney, and the metropolitan area, 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.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 101 George Street stands - Gannon House in Argyle Street and Reynolds' Cottages in Harrington Street.95-99 George Street was first built by Michael Gannon c1840 as a three storey 'store' consisting of two buildings, which was used by a number of traders and small manufacturers. It was poorly built and by 1860 it was being used by a number of marginal tenants while advertisements were posted for its demolition. It appears to have become untenanted for several years prior to its reconstruction as three two-storey shops with upstairs residences in 1867. This is the construction that is currently on the site. From 1868 these three shops were tenanted by businesses which continued links to the local shipping trade - butchers, grocers, and outfitters. These were small manufacturing concerns as well as retailers, with smaller scale retailing becoming more common in the twentieth century. In the early decades of their existence these buildings were much more substantial than those in other parts of the block on which they stand. However, while other parts of the city rebuilt and upsized, these buildings remained as economic depression in the 1890s and repositioning of the Rocks as a 'slum ' in the twentieth century allowed them to be bypassed for redevelopment. Under the administration of Sydney Harbour Trust from 1901 and the Maritime Services Board from 1934 the buildings remained as tenanted shops and small manufacturing concerns. Proposals by the Sydney Cove Redevelopment Authority to demolish this whole area in the 1960s were shelved following community protests supported by trade union Green Bans which changed the direction of government thinking concerning the future of The Rocks. The buildings were restored in 1978 and 1985 with reconstruction of the pre-1890s street awning and new sympathetic skillion additions at the rear. They remain as shops and dwellings and the present tenancies, like many of those who used these shops in previous centuries, have been long and stable. They remain under the administration of the Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority.There is a coherence to the whole run of buildings from 101 to 93 George Street that exemplifies a scale and simplicity common to commercial developments during the 1840 -90 period. It shares these qualities with other blocks fronting George Street in The Rocks and contributes to the heritage value of the precinct.95-99 George Street meets this criterion at a STATE level.The historical significance of 95-99 George Street is demonstrated by:·The site's association with the first Hospital gardens and the Assistant Surgeons' House.·It being a second generation of buildings on this site built only two decades after the first stores, illuminating aspects of early building practices in Sydney. ·It being representative of early commercial buildings associated with the maritime trade of Sydney. ·Its continuity of use as small commercial premises from the 1860s to the present.
Historical association: An item has strong or special association with the life or works of a person or group of persons, of importance in NSW's or the local area's cultural or natural history.The site 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 assistant surgeons' house and hospital gardens. 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. The site of 95-99 George Street is associated with Frederick Wright Unwin, solicitor and owner of the site c1838-1846). It also has associations with Michael Gannon, an early convict builder in the area and lessee of the site who built here in c.1840, and with William Yeoman who purchased the properties from Joseph Samuel Hansen in 1870. Yeoman traded for a number of years from No. 97, utilised the large store built behind the property in the interior courtyard and lived for a time in Gannon's old house in Argyle Street. Yeoman, like Reynolds and Gannon before him, became a large building contractor who owned various other places in The Rocks and within the block on which 95-99 George Street stands. Association with local owners ended in 1885 when John Gill acquired all the properties from Suez Canal to the corner of Argyle Street, and around the corner in Argyle Street. This heralded the arrival of the absentee grazier landlord and the decline of the area residentially. Nineteenth century large butchers and grocers supplying the maritime as well as local trade dominated, with the twentieth century witnessing several tailoring firms in 95 /97, all with Jewish names, while the various tenants of the fruit shop which located at No. 99 for the first seven decades of the 20th Century had southern European names. Along with the people who ran the oyster and wine bars at No. 101 next door, this created a cosmopolitan enclave on this section of George Street, a history which is significant in reflecting aspects of a waterfront precinct serving a diverse clientele of local and maritime needs.Gill transferred the property to the state following government resumptions in 1901 and it has remained in state ownership ever since. The provision of low cost and sometimes peppercorn rents when the building was administered by the Maritime Services Board allowed its use by small community groups, with No 97 being associated with Dr Mary Booth and the Empire Service Club which supported the British youth who migrated to Australia from 1910 to work on rural properties under the Dreadnought Scheme.95-99 George Street meets this criterion at a LOCAL level.The associational significance of 101 George Street is demonstrated by:·Association with Francis Greenway, who occupied the Assistant Surgeons' House formerly on the site.·Association with early builders and developers including Gannon and Yeoman.·Association with Dr Mary Booth and the Dreadnought Scheme.·Association with non-Anglo traders.
Aesthetic significance: 95-99 George Street is significant as a well preserved commercial and residential building from the mid- Victorian period, containing significant interiors as well as providing an important contribution to a 19th century commercial streetscape of State significance.95-99 George Street is also significant for demonstrating technical innovation through its use of cool rooms built into the cellars, one of which survives in No 95 George Street. 95 George Street was first used as a butcher shop by Thomas Claydon in 1867. The cool room is a rare and intact industrial archaeological resource. The item meets this criterion at a STATE level.The aesthetic and technical significance achievement of 95-99 George Street is demonstrated by:·The early Victorian form and detailing of the George Street frontage of the group and the first floor and attic interiors of Nos 95 and 97 George Street.·The early timber cool room located in the cellar of 95 George Street.
Social significance: 95-99 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 was also among the earlier buildings to be restored by the Sydney Cove Redevelopment Authority, and has maintained the uses then established until the present time. It therefore has social significance for present and past members of The Rocks community (including some of the existing tenants).No 97, as a place associated with the Dreadnought scheme, may have social significance for the descendants of those who came to Australia under this scheme from 1910. A plaque commemorating the scheme, erected by the Dreadnought Old Boy's Association in 1984, is located at the former Playfair's Garage (currently The Rocks Visitors Centre) in Argyle Place.These buildings were important places of trade and of provisioning for the shipping of the port of Sydney, and for small manufacturing. The association of the place with non-Anglo European immigrants provides insight into the workings of this harbour precinct in the first half of the 20th Century. 95-99 George Street meets this criterion on a LOCAL level.The social significance of 95-99 George Street is demonstrated by: ·Its role in supporting the working population of the waterside economy until the 1970s. ·The role of No 97 in accommodating the Empire Services Club which supported the Dreadnought Scheme.·It being part of The Rocks precinct where the Green Bans resulted in altering the way that the NSW government, the people of Sydney and the wider Australian community understood and valued the history and heritage values of Sydney's first settlement.
Research significance: Archaeological remains may be present on site 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. Extant building fabric may provide an understanding of the use of the extensive yard area surrounding the house. Such fabric includes the stone wall located east of the house and running parallel to its facade constructed during the same period as 95-99 George Street. Archaeological evidence may also exist of the original shops built in c.1840 by Michael Gannon which were later reconstructed in 1867. The building footprints relating to the two phases of construction differ, the latter construction consisting of three buildings rather than two, and appearing to have been extended westwards during the 1867 re-build. Further research will confirm if this occurred and if any remains exist of the original c.1840 shops. Sub-floor and inter-floor deposits have the potential to yield further archaeological evidence about the site's use and occupants from 1867 onwards. While mostly disturbed, the site area of 95-99 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 95-99 George Street is demonstrated by:·Archaeological potential relating to the two phases of the Assistant Surgeons' House, including the yard areas·Potential evidence of the house's occupants, notably Dr. William Redfern, D'ARcy Wentworth, William Balamin and Francis Greenway ·Possible evidence of the earlier building phase of the original c.1840 shops ·The archaeological potential for sub-floor, inter-floor and wall cavity deposits The archaeological significance of 95-99 George Street is demonstrated by: ·The area of potential remains relating to the two phases of the Assistant Surgeons' House built shortly after settlement in 1788 and reconstructed c1796, and possible remnants of the 1840s building. Archaeological remains of rear sheds and associated features are likely to be present beneath the present yard areas, except for No 99 where the 2006 works are likely to have removed any archaeological remains.
Rare assessment: The terrace at 95-99 George Street is rare in being an early example of a group of Victorian shops with residences above. The group is also rare in containing some of the most intact interiors (the first floors and attics at Nos 95 and 97) of their type, and also in containing (in the cellar of No 95) a rare example of early refrigeration technology used before the advent of mechanical refrigeration.The group meets this criterion at a STATE level.The rarity of 95-99 George Street is demonstrated by:·The early and comparatively intact interiors of the first floors and attics at Nos 95 and 97.·The early coolroom in the cellar of No 95.
Representative assessment: An item is important in demonstrating the principal characteristics of a class of NSW's or the local area's cultural or natural places, or cultural or natural environments.The terrace at 95-99 George Street is an early example of a group of Victorian shops with residences above, a type of development that was to become relatively common later in the 19th century. It contains many of the features that would later become typical of this type and style of development.The place meets this criterion at a STATE levelThe representativeness of 95-99 George Street is demonstrated by:·The fabric, form and detailing of the original parts of the group, including the rendered facades, moulded arched architraves to first floor windows, parapet and cornice, and timber shopfronts and windows·The continued use of Nos 95 and 99 as shops with associated residences above.
Intact assessment: Potential archaeological resource
Physical condition: Archaeology Assessment Condition: Mostly disturbed. Assessment Basis: Cellars beneath. Floors lower than rear laneway. Investigation: Site survey
|Heritage Listing||Listing Title||Listing Number||Gazette Date||Gazette Number||Gazette Page|
|National Trust of Australia Register||7716||27/02/1978|
|National Trust of Australia Register||7096||09/10/1981|
|Register of the National Estate||1/12/036/0382||21/10/1980|
|Heritage Act - s.170 NSW State agency heritage register||01596||10/10/1992|
|Heritage Act - s.170 NSW State agency heritage register||01596||10/05/1992|
|Register of the National Estate||1/12/036/0380||21/10/1980|
|Clive Lucas Stapelton & Partners||2008||Conservation Management Plan|