Gannon House & Shop
Statement of SignificanceGannon House and Shop at 45-47 Argyle Street are of cultural significance for their associations with the early development of the Rocks and some of the personalities which figured in that development, including Francis Greenway, FW Unwin and Michael Gannon The buildings provide important evidence of architecture and building in the Sydney of the late 1830s, and are the last remaining components in a larger development around a central yard carried out speculatively by Gannon in 1839. No. 45 in particular is a valuable and significantly complete residence of that period, retaining most of its original internal fabric and detail, the joinery of which stylistically belongs to a period a decade earlier than the documented construction date of the buildings. They are also evidence of the way in which significant early buildings were able to survive in the Rocks because of the area's unique social and economic circumstances, their survival has resulted in a degree of social significance relating to their contribution to the streetscape and historic fabric of one of Australia's most important heritage sites.In particular the above significance is demonstrated by the following:·The external elevations of the buildings, in particular the design of the front (north façade)·The intact exterior and interior fabric, in particular the joinery·The plan form of the original (front) sections of the buildings·The contribution to the streetscapes of Argyle Street and Greenway Lane·The archaeological resource including the basement and basement stairs
Gallery ,Shop / Cafe - Patisserie-Offices
Two dwelling houses - Workshop and stable to rear
Residential buildings (private)
Other - Residential Buildings (private)
Builder/Maker: Michael Gannon
Construction Years: 1839 - 1840
Physical Description: The buildings comprise a two storey structure, comprising a wide U shape with the base towards Argyle Street, and are effectively one structure and form, identified as such by the shopfront of No 47 and the windows either side of the centrally placed doorway of No 45. This integrated construction is consistent with a low-cost development of the property. A low parapet with box gutter behind conceals the main hipped roof parallel to the street, which returns over the rear of No 45, while that of No 47 is covered by skillion roofs The rear wings enclose a courtyard. The ground floor is of stone and the first floor of brick construction with stud internal walls with lathe and plaster linings, all of which suggest a cost-conscious approach. While No.45 is extremely intact both externally and internally in form and layout, the fabric detail of No.47 is consistent with a major reconstruction of the rear wing in the late 19th century. Though adaptation of service rooms on each floor has taken place, the majority of rooms remain in their original format, with much of their original detail fabric quite intact, if covered by layers of subsequent paint decoration. The combination and juxtaposition of materials and their use is of great interest in understanding buildings of this type. (Moore 1992: 34, 44-46)Style: Georgian; Storeys: No:45- 2 floors 7 rooms; No: 47- 2 floors 3 rooms; Internal Walls: Lathe and plaster linings; Roof Cladding: Galvanised iron and galvanised steel sheet, fixed over extensive remnants of the original timber shingle roof.; Internal Structure: Timber-frame; Floor Frame: Ground floor stone - first floor brick construction; Roof Frame: ShingledArchaeology notes: c. 1839. Two storey buildings. Vestiges of another building along western wall of courtyard.; Built By: 1840's
|Lot/Volume Number||Section Number||Plan Folio Code||Plan Folio Number|
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. The block bounded by George, Argyle, Harrington and Suez Canal (formerly Harrington Lane) was part of the hospital precinct from 1788. The structure on this block was a house for the Assistant Surgeons'. It was run up in a hurry almost as soon as the First Fleet had disembarked, probably built with logs and plastered. The footprint of the building was large and it was sometimes referred to 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'. At least three Assistant Surgeons lived here, William Balmain, D'Arcy Wentworth and William Redfern, but there may have been others, and this requires further research.When the hospital moved to Macquarie St the site and residence was occupied by Francis Greenway as part of his salary as colonial architect under Governor Macquarie. When he was dismissed in 1822 he claimed that the residence and land had been promised to him by Macquarie. It appears even though the Government tried to repossess the site Greenway remained there until c1834. The subject site lays just to the east of the residence.Land title documents indicate that an allotment of land bounded by Argyle and Harrington Streets, Harrington Lane and Greenway's residence was leased by Governor Brisbane in 1823 to John Gleeson, a labourer for a period of twenty one years. By 1826 the lease was apparently conveyed to Thomas Ryan, however no record of the transfer has been located.In 1830 William Reynolds apparently purchased part of the land from Ryan for £100 and in the same year the subdivided land on the corner of Argyle and Harrington Streets was sold by Ryan to Fredrick Unwin. Unwin leased part of the site and building that occupied it, a stone tenement and boarding house to Caleb Slater who conducted a public house called the Kings Head. When City Section 84 was drawn up in 1834 most of the land between Harrington and George Streets on the southern side of Argyle St was claimed by Francis Greenway.Greenway was unable to prove his title to the land and it was sold to Unwin for £2,820 by the Colonial government. By 1840, only a few years after the sale, hotels stood on both the Harrington & George St corners of the block. In 1839 he leased about two thirds of his allotment to Michael Gannon for 21 years for a ground rent of £170 year. The lease required that Gannon build and erect on the line of frontage to George St within two years as many houses that could occupy the frontage, three storeys exclusive of cellars and built of 'substantially of good materials'. In accordance with the lease Gannon built on the Argyle St part of the allotment very quickly and he had constructed the New York Hotel on the corner of Argyle and George Streets which opened in Feb 1841. The two houses on the subject site in Argyle St were built by Gannon from 1839-1840. Gannon's workshops (builder, manufacturer of coffins) and timber yard occupied the rear of the premises, as did a number of other tenants. An early lease for the house next door to the one Gannon was occupying described it as a dwelling house or Office bounded by a gateway on the East separating it from the premises known as the New York Hotel 'and that there was a yard behind the building 'in common occupation.' The entrance here is what is known today as Greenway Lane. It was also accessible from south of No 93 George Street, providing a good network of entrances.62 This kind of open space at the rear of buildings was common enough in the building s of the 1840s, but the yard here made this and other adjacent properties particularly attractive to small businesses with materials to store and a horse and cart to stable. When Gannon was in residence it was described as a timber yard. When Gannon advertised his house for sale in January 1844 he claimed for it eight rooms, kitchen and servant's room, a four stall stable, coach house and stores. By February, when it had not sold, he was emphasising its 'large stores.' The lease passed from Gannon to Hanson, and the ownership from Unwin to Morehead and Young, but the places remained more or less the same until about the mid 1860s when the 1865 Trig Survey shows that sheds have been demolished in the courtyard, and Doves plans for 1880 provide a new layout. During the 1860s the two properties were tenanted by small businesses -tradesmen or retail establishments serving the local community - a plasterer, fruiters, grocers, a laundress, bootmakers and so on. Then during the 1870s the house at No. 45 settled into its primary role as a boarding house, reverting to a private residence in the 1880s. William Yeoman, who bought the properties from Morehead and Young, was living in the house around 1879 -80 and on the Doves plans for the following year the large workshop behind the houses is labelled as Yeomen's. By now William Yeoman is a major contractor and this store would have held not only his tools of trade; paints, scaffolding and so on, but work carts and horse stalls as well. The rear of Gannon's house would have been its major attraction to him. The 1865 Trig survey indicates that the workshops and stables constructed by Gannon had been demolished, the residence expanded with the construction of a rear wing and outbuilding and a number of sheds are attached to the eastern wall. The shingle roof had been replaced with corrugated iron by this time. The buildings were purchased by William Yeoman in July 1870, he occupied part of the site with his business. In July 1885 John Gill a pastoralist from Moonbi purchased the buildings and land. He had it surveyed and measured to ensure the description on the deeds was accurate. Gill died in 1889 but the properties remained with his trustees until the site was resumed after the plague broke out in 1900. The Crown formally acquired the site in 1903. The Rocks area was administered by the Government from that time, beginning with the Sydney Harbour Trust, then the Maritime Services Board.No 47 was sometimes a house but most often a house with shop on the ground floor in the twentieth century. As a boarding house, No 45 Argyle Street was run by a number of individuals, with two long stints by women, Mrs Joseph for the whole of the 1890s and Mrs McCormick from 1916 until 1924. In 1992 an old Rocks resident recalled this boarding house:K: We used to call it the house of the Broken Hearts.D: Oh no that was in Argyle Cut . . . Yes all the husbands who had left their wives use to live there . . . [laughing] That was in Argyle Street Just up a little bit from the Police Station .K : And where the boy Cummins [sic] had the shop . . it used to be the fish and chip shop.This last was a reference to an electrical workshop behind in the yard, and Cumines was the Chinese family who for many years run the King Nam Jang firm at 85 George Street a little further north of Argyle Street. The City Council records an electrical motor repair shop here in the 1950, tenanted by Ernest Lawrence, but it was 'the fat boy', 'the boy Cummins' (Albert) who was remembered.Although Argyle street here was always much admired by the artistic eye for the atmospherics of the Argyle Cut, it had fallen on hard times by the time the twentieth century came around. But the 1970s the shabby workshop appearance of this stretch of Argyle Street, with electrical work shops and Playfairs offices in the former British Seaman's Hotel on the corner of Argyle and Harrington Streets, along with their major plant across the road in Playfair Street was a far cry from the status this street was to acquire post the 1970s and the development of a tourist precinct. The street is today the site for trendy outdoor produce markets and Gannon's house and shop is an upmarket patisserie and art gallery. Most altered of all is perhaps the inner courtyard created as a pleasant leafy space where once it was a jumble of sheds and stores and stables.
Historical significance: The site of 45-47 Argyle Street has important associations 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 part of the earliest European settled part of Australia, with specific importance in the establishment of medical practice.The subject site was one part of Michael Gannon's 1839 series of buildings located around a central yard and is an important and rare remnant of a very early phase in Sydney's development and town planning.Nos. 45-47 Argyle Street meets this criterion at a STATE level.The historical significance of 45-47 Argyle Street is demonstrated by:·Its ability to show 1839 patterns of town planning, particularly through its intact relationship with its inner court yard. ·Façade design incorporating a townhouse and attached shop, combining domestic with shopfront fenestration.·The buildings' relationship to Greenway Lane, and to Argyle Street, one of the oldest precincts in Australia.
Historical association: Nos 45-47 Argyle 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 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 designing buildings and town planning schemes which have left an important legacy. Many of his remaining buildings are amongst the best loved buildings of Sydney and of the surrounding early town settlements. The site is associated with early land squabbles over tenure of property, and with a major early manipulator of land holdings, F W Unwin.The current building at 45-47 Argyle Street, known as Gannon's House & Shop is the original building constructed in c1840. It is associated with the Gannon family who lived there briefly, and with a later landowner, William Yeoman who became a large contractor who built a substantial store at the rear of the building. As the area declined in status and Gannon's house became a boarding house it became associated with the transitory nature of the population of this dock-side community.It is possible that the antiquated interior joinery came from Greenway's house which was demolished shortly before Gannon House was built. 45-47 Argyle Street meets this criterion at a LOCAL level. The associational significance of 45-47 Argyle Street is demonstrated by:·Association with Francis Greenway, who lived on the site for nearly twenty years.·Association with Michael Gannon who built Gannon House and Shop, and other buildings nearby. ·The earlier joinery which is possibly associated with Greenway's earlier house on the site.
Aesthetic significance: Gannon House and Shop are most certainly of architectural interest, being architecturally rare, individual and distinctive in a number of ways. Stylistically the buildings illustrate the architectural and building practice of Sydney and the Rocks in the 1840s. They convey the translocation of contemporary British domestic building to the Colony, and show the application of architectural fashion and building craftsmanship to the smaller-scale but no less ambitious commercial developments of early Sydney and the Rocks. In their construction the buildings reveal building practice and economy at the time of their erection.In their intactness the buildings are significant for the depth of evidence that they retain about their design and realisation. They also reflect the nature of their later uses.Nos. 45-47 Argyle Street makes one of the more modest but authentic contributions to the townscape of the Rocks. The buildings contribute to views within and from without the section of Argyle Street that they address, although they are screened partially by the street trees and the later unprecedented street awning to No. 47. A particularly fine view is gained looking south along Kendall Lane, towards the buildings and framed by the buildings to the sides of Kendall Lane. The buildings are also important components of the group of smaller scale buildings within the land bounded by George, Harrington and Argyle Streets, and the Suez Canal laneway. Though confused by more recent landscape works and improvements for their present use, these properties retain important evidence about the density of settlement in the area, and the maze of small yards and lanes that once figured strongly in the area's reputation. Nos. 45 and 47 make a quiet but effective and enriching contribution to the Rocks townscape and the streetscape of Argyle Street. They are amongst those 'anonymous' buildings which stitch together the more noticeable 'landmark' structures and places of the Rocks, including the buildings that are not necessarily any more fine, but which may have a higher 'recognition factor'...They add firstly a dimension of time, arising from their construction in the Rocks' 'second generation' of development and secondly of scale - the more modest home-scale buildings of the 1840s, overwhelmed by later development.The deceptively plain and simple appearance of Nos. 45-47 Argyle Street is belied by the precision and sophistication of the façade design.One aspect of particular significance is the early character of the internal joinery (particularly chimneypieces and door surrounds) which appears to be at least ten years earlier than the buildings' documented date of building. It is possible the joinery was recycled from an earlier building, e.g., the surgeon's residence, or work done to it by Greenway c1822.45-47 Argyle Street is technically significant for demonstrating urban planning techniques of the late colonial period in Sydney. The site contains evidence of rear yard areas including workshops which once formed part of the property and its operations. The building also shares a relationship with Greenway Lane. Nos 45-47 Argyle Street demonstrates technical significance through its architecture and design, remaining largely unchanged since its construction in 1839.The item meets this criterion at a STATE level.The aesthetic significance of 45-47 Argyle Street is demonstrated by:·Original fabric and design·Front (north) elevation to Argyle Street including doors and fenestration·Original, early and reconstructed interior and exterior fabric·Rear (south) elevation·Contribution to character of Greenway Lane made by east elevationThe technical significance of 45-47 Argyle Street is demonstrated by:·Evidence of urban planning from the late colonial period ·Evidence of rear yard operations and workshops ·Original design and fabric
Social significance: 45-47 Argyle Street is an integral part of the precinct of The Rocks which is valued for its overall cultural significance and for its links to the 1970s Green Bans movement. Because of its unassuming role in the streetscape of Argyle Street in The Rocks, which is arguably Australia's most loved heritage precinct, 45-47 Argyle Street is held in esteem as an example of simple Georgian domestic architecture by individuals and groups who are interested in Sydney's history and heritage.It forms part of the backdrop to a lively area of outdoor markets and is a major thoroughfare through The Rocks within the ambience of the Argyle Cut which is an outstanding feature of the landscape of The Rocks with an ability to convey layers of past meanings. 45-47 Argyle Street meets this criterion at a LOCAL level.The social significance of 45-47 Argyle Street is demonstrated by:·its contribution to 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. ·the building representing the first phase of building on one of the most esteemed and most visited streets in Sydney.
Research significance: Archaeological remains may be present on the site relating to the two phases of the Assistant Surgeons House from 1788 to 1816 and Francis Greenway's occupation of the latter house from 1816 to c.1834. While historical maps show the house was located further to the east, 45-47 Argyle Street may contain evidence of the yard area surrounding the house, including smaller structures. The area may also contain evidence of the original hospital garden. Archaeological evidence may also exist of a wooden structure shown on historical maps to have been built immediately to the east by Sergeant James during the same period. It is likely that remains of this structure are present beneath 45 Argyle Street and Greenway Lane. Remains of former sheds and workshops within the rear yards have the potential to provide further research into the sites' use and occupants. Sub-floor and inter-floor deposits have the potential to yield further archaeological evidence about the site's use and occupants from 1839 onwards. While partly disturbed, the site area of 45-47 Argyle Street, including Greenway Lane, has the potential to yield evidence of indigenous and contact archaeology. The date and origin of joinery may be possible to determine in future either by further physical investigation (e.g., looking at the back of joinery which has to be removed for some good reason, such as maintenance or repair), or by new documentary evidence. The item meets this criterion at a STATE level.The research significance of 45-47 Argyle Street is demonstrated by:·The archaeological potential relating to the two Assistant Surgeons House yards·Evidence of the sites' occupants, notably Dr. William Redfern, D'Arcy Wentworth, William Balmain, Francis Greenway and Michael Gannon Evidence of earlier construction including Sergeant James's wooden structure The archaeological potential for sub-floor, inter-floor and wall cavity deposits The archaeological significance of 45-47 Argyle Street is demonstrated by: ·The sites' potential to yield information and deposits relating to the yard of the Assistant Surgeons House (1788, reconstructed c1796)) ,a wooden structure built by Sergeant James beneath 45 Argyle Street and Greenway Lane and remains of workshops, sheds and associated features within the former yard, now the outdoor seating area of No 47.
Rare assessment: Typologically the buildings are an important survivor amongst the small number of 1840s dwellings and commercial premises left in Sydney. They provide important, rare and very comprehensive evidence of the once large, now dwindling number of their type - in particular the shopfront and door to No. 47 and the front doorcase to No. 45.Additionally, the house and shop at 45-47 Argyle Street is the only remaining component of Michael Gannon's more extensive development at the corner of George and Argyle Streets which included the original buildings on the sites of the former ASN Hotel (91 George Street), 93 George Street and the Phillip's Foote Building (95 George Street). Together with Greenway Lane and to a lesser extent the shared courtyard behind these buildings, Gannon House and Shop are the only remaining material items which can provide evidence of this historically interesting development typical of 1840s Sydney.The building retains intact and rare early internal joinery, particularly the very intact first floor room 102 in No. 45. Further, the joinery throughout the front rooms of both 45 and 47 is assessed on a stylistic basis as possibly reused from an earlier structure which may add yet another dimension to the rarity of Gannon House and Shop.The item meets this criterion at a STATE level.The rarity of 45-47 Argyle Street is demonstrated by:·original and early interior and exterior fabric and form of 45 and 47 Argyle Street, in particular the interior joinery·contribution of 45 Argyle Street to Greenway Lane
Representative assessment: The buildings are representative of an increasingly remote and scantily represented period of Sydney's (and Australia's) past. While there are other buildings from this time surviving in Sydney and other cities and towns of the country, they are a group within which comparative evaluation cannot justify greater valuation of some over others - they are all valuable for the information they individually and collectively hold.The item meets this criterion at a STATE level.The representativeness of 45-47 Argyle Street is demonstrated by:·original and early interior and exterior fabric and form of 45 and 47 Argyle Street, in particular the interior joinery
Intact assessment: Archaeology partly disturbed, however potential resources remain in rear yards and underfloor deposits. Archaeological resource on footpath to Argyle Street disturbed to 350mm below footpath surface. Archaeological monitoring program Nov 07
Physical condition: Archaeological Assessment Condition: Partly disturbed. Assessment Basis: Cellar under part of No. 45. Rear courtyard terraced into slope.
|Australian Theme||NSW Theme||Local Theme|
|Peopling the continent||Activities associated with maintaining, developing, experiencing and remembering Aboriginal cultural identities and practises, past and present.|
|Developing local, regional and national economies||Activities relating to buying, selling and exchanging goods and services.|
|Building settlements, towns and cities||Activities associated with the provision of accommodation, and particular types of accommodation ? does not include architectural styles ? use the theme of Creative Endeavour for such activities.|
|Heritage Listing||Listing Title||Listing Number||Gazette Date||Gazette Number||Gazette Page|
|Register of the National Estate||1/12/036/0433||Harrington Argyle Precinct,||21/10/1980||2317|
|National Trust of Australia Register||9337||27/02/1978|
|Heritage Act - State Heritage Register||01548||Gannon House & Shop||10/05/2002||2868||85|
|Heritage Act - s.170 NSW State agency heritage register||Place Management NSW|
|Within a National Trust conservation area||10499|
|Register of the National Estate||1/12/036/0433||Premises||21/10/1978||2325|