Statement of SignificancePlayfair's Terrace is a row of four late Victorian terrace houses constructed c.1881 and featuring the form, layout and stylistic details that are common to the period. Historically, the Terrace is associated with, and is representative of, the late nineteenth century phase of residential development in The Rocks. In combination with Avery's Terrace and the Argyle Terraces on Playfair Street the subject site makes a strong contribution to the historic urban character of The Rocks and forms a highly intact enclave of late nineteenth century residential development.Alterations to the site boundary, as demonstrated by the eastern alignment of the site, are historically demonstrative of the replanning of The Rocks during the early twentieth century following the outbreak of the bubonic plague.The site is significant for its potential to yield information relating to mid to late nineteenth and early twentieth century residential activities in The Rocks.Playfair's Terraces are of local and state significance for their ability to demonstrate significant historic, aesthetic and representative values.
Residential buildings (private)
Construction Years: 1880 - 1880
Physical Description: A continuous row of four two storey Victorian terraces, each of two bays and built of stuccoed brick with a simple parapet above a projecting cornice. The hipped roof behind is of iron (formerly slate), intersected by the partition parapets. There is no visible division between the houses on the façade which has rectangular openings with top corners rounded and simple corbelled sills. Windows to front are four pane while those at the rear are twelve. (National Trust Register 1976) Style: Victorian; Storeys: 2; Roof Cladding: Corrugated Iron; Floor Frame: Timber
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Historic Notes and Themes
Historical notes: In 1834, Robert Campbell snr. was granted this section of land above his water front property. The land was sold to Fredrick Wright Unwin in 1841 and by 1847 it was reconveyed to the Trustees of Campbell's property. A portion of the land was purchased by Joshua Frey Josephson in 1848 and then conveyed to George Atherden, a wharfinger of Campbell's Wharf in 1852. Atherden subsequently built terraces at Nos 9-15 Atherden Street (originally numbered 5, 6, 7 and 8, now known as Avery Terrace) on the eastern portion of this land between 1852 and 1865. They are first depicted on the 1865 Trig Survey. In 1880 the Trustees of Atherden's estate conveyed the land to Thomas Playfair, butcher of Sydney, for ¤490. The four terraces are constructed after the land is acquired by Thomas Playfair from George Atherden in 1880. Initially numbered 1 through 4, within 10 years they are renumbered to odd numbers between 1 and 7. The City of Sydney Rate Books for 1886-1889 record Playfair as the first owner of the terraces but by the 1896 entry a Mrs Jessie Walker owns Nos 1 and 3 while Alfred Playfair owns 5 and 7. These ownership arrangements are maintained until the terraces are resumed by the NSW Government in 1900. In 1921 the adjoining terraces were demolished and in 1923 Harrington Street was connected to George Street.Thomas Playfair (1832-1893), a sailor in the Royal Navy, arrived in Sydney on the HMS Pelorus in 1859. His initial business venture was as a butcher in partnership with E.J. Bailey who operated shops in the eastern suburbs before opening his own butchery in George Street north and serving the shipping trade with salt and fresh beef as well as live animals. Between 1875 and 1893 Playfair served on the Sydney City Council and fought for improvements to the city through better services, demolition of slums and improved sanitation. In 1885 he established livestock sale yards at Homebush. He served as mayor of Sydney in 1885 and was elected to the Legislative Assembly in 1889. Playfair was also known for his charitable work throughout Sydney and owned property in the City and North Sydney. He passed away in 1893 and the Playfair business was inherited by his second son Edmund. It was about his time that the ownership of Nos 1-7 Atherden Street were conveyed to Mrs Jessie Walker and Playfair's grandson, Alfred, who inherited the properties as trustees and benefactors of his will.In 1882 the Sands Directory records the earliest occupants as Mrs Ann McRory, a laundress; George Josephs, a carter; William Summers, a painter; and William R. Scott at Nos 1 through 7 respectively. Occupants change quickly thereafter for about the next 10 years then more sustained occupancies seem to take place from the start of the twentieth century after the houses are resumed. There is a gap in the occupancy records between the 1930s and the 1970s although it is said that members of the Avery family moved between the terraces. From the 1970s to the present the pattern of occupancy was also relatively consistent with most places featuring 5 to 10 year occupancies. The Sydney Cove Redevelopment Authority was originally going to demolish the terraces, but the Green Bans prevented this occurring. SCRA then renovated the buildings and they became, as they remain, residential terraces continuing the use for which they were built. [Archaeological History - Granted to Robert Campbell (See also: AM026-027; AM029-030; AM163; AR013; AR016-017; AR025-026; AR028-031; AR052; AR149-151; AR155), 16 October 1834.]
Historical significance: Playfair's Terrace is associated with residential development in The Rocks during the late nineteenth century which is demonstrated by the architectural form and character of the place. This is one of the many phases of private development during the nineteenth century that has provided The Rocks with its haphazard yet characteristic urban form. It is one of the last phases of private residential development undertaken in The Rocks before the place was resumed following the outbreak of the plague.The survival, conservation and maintenance of the terraces for their continued residential use is historically evident of the late twentieth century management of The Rocks by government bodies such as the SCRA, SCA and The Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority following the Green Bans movement and the recognition of cultural significance embodied within the place. The protection, conservation and adaptation of The Rocks is one of the earliest and most important conservation actions in the history of NSW.In combination with many other places throughout The Rocks. Playfair's Terrace contributes to the ability of The Rocks to demonstrate its key historical characteristics and values such as early residential development and late twentieth century adaptation and conservation.Playfair's Terrace fulfils this criterion at the state and local levels.
Historical association: Playfair's Terrace was constructed under the ownership of local butcher and Alderman Thomas Playfair. Playfair was well known in the mid to late nineteenth century for his supply of meat to the maritime industry and his actions on the Sydney City Council to provide adequate services and improved sanitation throughout inner city residential areas.The Terraces are constructed on a portion of land granted to early wharfinger and merchant. While Campbell's land incorporated the subject he does not appear to have used it as his operations were focused on the West Circular Quay foreshore.While the subject buildings are associated with Playfair and Campbell they are considered to be minor associations not directly related to the activities that define the cultural importance of those people.Anne Dybka, current occupant, is a world renowned glass engraver who received an Order of Australia in 2003 for her service to the arts. Anne Dybka worked out of the Argyle Terraces on Playfair Street. Anne Dybka is one of many residents with a long association to the Rocks. The association between Playfair's Terraces and the work of Anne Dybka as an artist is considered to be incidental and not demonstrative of her life works.Playfair's Terrace does not fulfil this criterion.
Aesthetic significance: Playfair's terrace is a restrained example of a late Victorian terrace house row featuring a typical from and reserved moulded embellishments to the parapet and window sills. Playfair's Terrace is aesthetically representative of a highly intact late Victorian Italianate row of terrace houses.Along with Avery's Terrace opposite, Playfair's Terrace makes an important contribution to the aesthetic character of The Rocks. In particular the row helps define the enclosed and small scale urban form of Atherden Street which is a remanent of small scale working class residential development in The Rocks.Playfair's Terrace fulfils this criterion at the state and local levels.
Social significance: The Rocks is socially valuable for the esteem in which the place is held and its contribution to the identity of the wider Sydney community. As a place that demonstrates the continuous residential activities and contributes to the historic urban form of The Rocks Playfair's Terrace is considered to be one of the many places that contributes to the community's capacity to sustain a strong and special association with The Rocks.Playfair's Terrace makes an important contribution to the social significance of The Rocks at the local level.
Research significance: The subject site has the potential to yield information relating to mid to late nineteenth and early twentieth century residential uses and associated domestic activities in the area. The triangular portion of land below the eastern side yard of number 7 Atherden Street is likely to contain subsurface relics such as terrace house footings and subfloor deposits.The site of Playfair's Terrace fulfils this criterion at the local level.
Rare assessment: Playfair's Terrace, as a simple late Victorian terrace house, is not rare within the context of The Rocks or the Sydney metropolitan region.Playfair's Terrace does not fulfil this criterion.
Representative assessment: Playfair's Terraces, along with Avery's Terraces and the Argyle Terraces along Playfair Street, are representative of a highly intact enclave of late nineteenth century residential development in The Rocks. The representative qualities of Playfair's Terrace are demonstrated through the siting, architectural form, arrangement of spaces, external detailing and internal features and spaces.Playfair's Terrace fulfils this criterion at the state and local levels.
Intact assessment: Potential Archaeological Resource
Physical condition: Generally fair condition. See Building Maintenance Inspection for No 1 Atherton Place prepared by SHFA Property October 1999.Archaeology Assessment Condition: Partly disturbed. Assessment Basis: Floors level with street. Sandstone quarried up to Gloucester Street frontage.
|Australian Theme||NSW Theme||Local Theme|
|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||1/12/036/0315||Terraces||21/10/1980||14256|
|Register of the National Estate||1/12/036/0315||Argyle Precinct||21/10/1980||2116|
|National Trust of Australia Register||10328||Argyle Group||05/04/1976|
|Heritage Act - State Heritage Register||01570||Playfair's Terrace||10/05/2002||2868||85|
|Heritage Act - s.170 NSW State agency heritage register||Place Management NSW|
|Within a National Trust conservation area||10499|