Old Sydney Holiday Inn
Statement of SignificanceThe 1926 Harrington Building is of STATE significance for its historic, social, research and rarity values to New South Wales. Its historic values are demonstrated by the associations of its site with the very beginning of the British invasion and colonisation of Australia, by part of its site being a site of the creation of private property in Australia, by the connections between the site and the building with establishing and operating Sydney Cove as part of a working harbour, by its associations with post-plague resumptions of private property and the re-shaping of Sydney as a modern global city, and by the transformation of the building in the 1980s for new uses as tourist accommodation. Its social values are demonstrated by the associations of the location and its underlying archaeological potential with several identifiable groups in the community including, potentially, descendants of the Cadigal and present-day Aboriginal communities. Its research values are demonstrated by the potentially high-level significance of its underlying archaeological resources, and the largely un-researched commercial uses of buildings of this type. Its rarity values are intimately connected with its location in The Rocks, which is a unique place in Australia as the only 18th century urban form responding, in an organic way, to natural topography and possibly Cadigal settlement, evidenced by the ways in which the building responds to the bend in George Street. This combination of values and location make the 1926 Harrington's Building, including its location, of state significance.The building also has local significance for its associational, aesthetic, technical and representative values in The Rocks, demonstrated by its associations with local business people and business enterprises, its architectural and landmark qualities within the townscape, its early use of reinforced concrete, and by being representative of the transformation of the area after the plague resumptions.The 1984 Holiday Inn Building has some local values, but is assessed as not being of state or local significance because although it has some local values for demonstrating the introduction of the tourism industry into The Rocks through the provision of accommodation, other and better examples are found elsewhere in The Rocks; the architectural styling reflects a transition between two styles with neither satisfactorily realised, and with little acknowledgement today from its architect; the use of an atrium is interesting but not unique in contemporary local hotel buildings (although the concept has a strong, but unrealised, interpretive potential); its social values are also expressed and more comprehensively represented in other sites, as are other comparable examples of developments of the period. The site has no archaeological values due to its complete excavation.The overall site at 53-55 George Street is of STATE significance in its own right for demonstrating the entire sequence of human settlement around Sydney throughout the entire period of British colonisation and Australian nationhood, and potentially back into the pre-invasion periods of Cadigal and Aboriginal sovereignty. It is intimately connected with the development of Sydney Cove and then Sydney Harbour as the place through which Australia was connected with the rest of the world. It demonstrates in its historical records, archaeological potential, and the built form of the Harrington Building, the evolving nature of emigration, trade, commerce and industry in New South Wales over more than two centuries. It is closely associated with seminal phases in the formation of an Australian nation, including convictism, urbanisation, governance, property rights and trade. It is also of state significance for its contribution to the greater-than-state significance of The Rocks, a place now acknowledged at all levels as 'the birthplace of the nation'.
Store and offices (Harrington's Buildings)
Builder/Maker: Concrete Constructions Ltd.
Construction Years: 1924 - 1925
Physical Description: Style: Industrial Edwardian; Storeys: Seven; Facade: Brick and concrete walls; Roof Cladding: Asphalt; Floor Frame: Concrete
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Historic Notes and Themes
Historical notes: The site is part of original grants to John Laurie in October 1816 and Robert Campbell in October 1834.The site of the Harrington's Building in the nineteenth century was characterised by a streetscape of stone and brick buildings of two and three floors principally used as dwellings. The historical background to each building in summary: The dwellings on the site of the north wing of the Harrington's Building were developed by George Atherden. The first group of terraces were located on George Street and erected around 1847. The terraces were constructed in brick with three floors, six rooms and with detached rear kitchen wings. The sale notice of 1879 noted they had shop fronts; the Sand's Directory indicates No. 51 was a fruiterer and also grocer's shop from 1882, No. 53 was principally tenanted by shoemakers and tailors from the outset, while No. 55 was principally residential. The other group of terraces were located in Union / Atherden Street (now Playfair Street). Atherden developed this group of four, two-storey, stone masonry buildings in the mid 1860s. Each house comprised four rooms with a detached kitchen. This terrace for some decades was the only residential development in the street. The roof form of the building with its hipped east end only and key stones on the western wall suggests Atherden probably intended to extend the terrace to the west. The west wing of the Harrington's Building is partially located above a pair of stables and a house fronting Playfair Street. These buildings were constructed in the 1870s. The stables were quite large with two storeys and evidently shared a common yard area despite being in different ownerships.The existing configuration of Playfair Street and George Street was established in the 1920s by the Housing Board. This work necessitated reforming Playfair Street to a uniform width of 50 feet and continuing it to George Street. Throughout the nineteenth century Playfair Street (also named Little Gloucester Street) terminated at the rear of the terraces fronting Atherden Street. The laneway to the south of the Old Sydney Inn complex (now named Mill Lane) was also reformed to a uniform width of 20 feet. The existing boundaries of the Old Sydney Inn were established by the Housing Board and bear little direct relationship to the nineteenth century street pattern aside from George Street. This nineteenth century street pattern was established through private subdivisions made in the 1840s. Atherden Street, then named Union Street, was established in Robert Campbell's subdivision of June 1841. The new road was intended to connect with the then proposed continuation of Gloucester Street through to George Street. The southern end of Playfair Street and the laneway between it and George Street (variously named Mill Lane and Kendall Lane) was established also in 1841 by the subdivision made by Frederick Wright Unwin. The northern end of Playfair Street was not formed until the 1870s and in the interim had been part of a yard at the rear of John Gilchrest's premises fronting George Street. In realigning present day Playfair Street, buildings erected from the 1840s were demolished and any irregularities in the street level removed. Atherden Street was truncated and only the terraces at its western end were left standing. In 1932, the remaining street section was renamed Atherden Place. The street had been named Atherden following George Atherden's death in 1879 as the sale notice of Atherden's property in 1880 noted this name for the street.While bearing some resemblance to the nineteenth century pattern of town leases and grants and subsequent subdivision, the three town blocks located between Playfair, Argyle and George Streets were determined by the City Improvement Advisory Board and charted in 1905. In the nineteenth century this area was Section 85 of the City, but in the twentieth century it was reclassified as Section 18 in the "Observatory Hill Land" (or Resumed Area). The redefinition largely removed the traditional boundaries defined by the town leases and grants. The area of the Old Sydney Inn is located within the town lease originally made to John Laurie in 1816, but this was subdivided and new town grants were issued to Robert Campbell, among others, in 1834. The boundary between Campbell's and the neighbouring Gilchrist grant is traced by the south wall of the northern wing of the Harrington's Building.The Harrington's Building portion of the Old Sydney Inn (53-55 George Street and 2-8 Playfair Street) a private development completed in 1924 in leasehold sited on the newly aligned Playfair Street. Harringtons Ltd. entered into a lease of the whole block bounded by Atherden Street, Playfair Street, Mill Lane and George Street (the Old Sydney Inn site) in 1919. Information on this lease is available through Lands Department records as they were instructed in late 1919 by the Resumed Properties Department of the Housing Board to prepare a survey urgently to secure Harrington's interest. The necessity for the survey had arisen owing the survey marks made in 1905 of the realigned street having been removed over the intervening years. Previously, in 1912 the company had occupied the buildings at 57-59 George Street, and in 1915 erected new premises at 61 George Street, designed by architect J.T. McCarthy, both now demolished. The irregular footprint of the Harrington's Building derives from these existing neighbouring developments at 57-61 George Street. Unfortunately the records of the administration of the Housing Board for this period are poor with the annual reports being little more than account ledgers. Little is therefore known about the particular circumstances of the development. The architect of the building is not known, but the building contactor was Concrete Constructions Ltd. who lodged the building application with the City Council in May 1923.Concrete Constructions Ltd. was, until their demise in 2005 in the collapse of Walter Construction Ltd., one of Australia's largest and oldest construction firms. The company was established in 1916 as Country Concrete Constructions Ltd., the name being changed to Concrete Constructions Ltd. in 1920. Concrete Constructions were pioneers in the introduction of reinforced concrete construction on a mass scale in Australia. The company was headed by Allen Charles Lewis, an Englishman who for some years represented in Sydney the Indented Steel Bar Reinforcement Company of London. The company had a close relationship with the architectural firm Ross and Rowe; the construction of the State Government Savings Bank (now Commonwealth Bank) at 48 Martin Place in 1925 designed by Ross and Rowe basically established the reputation of the company. There is no evidence to indicate that Ross and Rowe were the architects of the Harrington's Building, while this is possible the Harrington's Building was not included in a list of the company's significant work published in 1931.It is probable the structural system incorporates the Indented Bar system of concrete reinforcement. Reinforced concrete technology began to be used in Sydney from around 1910, initially for the floor and stairs structures with steel columns and brick masonry continuing to be used for the main structure. The first fully reinforced concrete framed building was not erected until 1919. The Indented Bar system incorporates, as the name implies, indented steel bars and presented an alternative to the steel mesh system used at the time.The structural frame is likely to prove an early extant example of reinforced concrete construction in The Rocks. The managing director at this time was John Harrington. Harringtons Ltd. were evidently pre-eminent in Sydney in the wholesale and retail photographic trade. The company was founded in 1891 and its main premises in the city was at 386 George Street, with the premises at 53- 55 George Street, erected in 1924, being their bulk store. At the time of the opening of the Harrington's Building the company were the distributors of the Kodak range of films, chemicals, papers and their cameras including the ever- popular "Brownie". The company also manufactured its own products including the Empire brand of photographic papers. They had premises in Adelaide, Brisbane and Melbourne and published a journal of photography that was in its 33rd year of publication at the time the Harrington's Building opened. The company was founded in 1906 by John and Thomas Harrington, the company being first involved in gold in West Australia then in silver residue technology, which provides the connection with the photographic industry. Harringtons were also metallurgists, analysts and assayers, and the company's specialist laboratories were located in the Harrington's Building. Harrington's occupancy of the building was relatively short the company left in 1927. The building's primary use over the following fifty years was associated with the printing trade. The northern aspect of the offering ideal lighting conditions for this use. The building was a property investment for Harringtons securing an annual rental return and was managed, at least by the 1950s, by Harringtons Properties Pty. Ltd. as head-lessee. Indeed, the building was probably designed for multiple occupancy with its limited floor areas and provision of two wings, each with independent services: with stairs, lifts, entries and lavatory accommodation. There was a lack of any specialised mechanised goods handling services such as lifts.The Old Sydney Inn is located within the block bounded by George Street, Playfair Street and Mill Lane. Since the early 1950s the majority of the block had been used as a petrol station and an open car parking yard following a fire in 1952 which destroyed most of the premises fronting George Street. At 57 George Street, the auctioneers F.R. Strange had its rooms, and there was a three storey building in Mill Lane. The block was flagged for development in the Sydney Cove Redevelopment Scheme. While a preliminary scheme had been proposed in 1977 by the architects Reuben Lane, who had offices on the fifth floor of the building, to utilise and refurbish the existing buildings as commercial office space, the Authority opted for the proposal put up in 1980 for a "motel" with new buildings infilling the two open street frontages leaving an enclosed space or atrium at the centre of the block covered over by a glazed roof lantern. The architects of the scheme were (John) Davis, Heather and (Michael) Dysart and the developer was initially G.G. Currie and then Bogumi Ltd. This proposal responded to the SCRA's invitation of December 1979 for tenderers to erect and operate a "motel" in leasehold title up to a term of 60 years. In developing the block, retention of the Harrington's Building was accepted at the outset, while the George Street premises of F.R. Strange could be demolished and the "derelict" building on Mill Lane was required to be the demolished. The statutory building envelope permitted a new building of four levels, but this was amended to suit the developer's needs. The programmed commencement of construction was February 1981, but owing to industrial and financial problems the motel was not opened until May 1984. The first year of operation was described as "quite successful" with over 90% occupancy rates. The adaptive reuse respected the original buildings and in retaining the original structural frame and floor structure was not an example of mere facadism that was then in common use, also very few changes were made to the street elevations. The building continues to operate as a hotel.
Historical significance: The historical significance of the 1926 Harrington Building is demonstrated by:· The evidence in the place of the significant human activity of valuing evidence of the past, in this case through the conservation and adaptive re-use of the building within a larger built structure for hotel and tourism purposes in 1984.· The associations of the place with a significant historical phase, that of the initial invasion and colonisation of Sydney Cove (Warrane) in the late 18th century when the first colonial hospital was established southwards of the site, and port facilities were established eastwards of the site on the shores of the Cove with associated storage, warehousing and residential facilities in the vicinity of the site.· The associations of the place with a significant historical phase, that of alienating Crown land and creating private land holdings, beginning with the lease in 1800 to Robert Campbell of a plot that included the northern part of the site, and the subsequent freeholding of the land in 1834. This over-200 years old property boundary remains evident in the alignment of the southern wall of the north wing.· The associations of the place with a significant historical phase, as a consequence of the mass resumptions of private property in the early 20th century in response to the plague outbreak, of realigning streets and lot boundaries to provide more functionally efficient sites for harbour side light industries that supported CBD functions, such as commercial printing, photograph processing and motor car servicing.· The maintaining of a continuing historical activity in The Rocks of providing accommodation for uses associated with the site's harbour side location from warehousing in the early-mid 19th century, workshops, stables and boarding houses in the mid-late 19th century, light industries in the early-mid 20th century, and tourist accommodation in the late 20th century.The item meets this criterion at a STATE level.
Historical association: The associational significance of the 1926 Harrington Building is demonstrated by:· Showing evidence of a significant human occupation, in this instance the trade and transportation of people and goods over the seas, the loading, unloading and warehousing of shipped goods, and the maintaining of ties with other places through the exchange of goods, services, people and communications. In short, the operation of a working harbour, with which the place has been intimately associated since the late 18th century, linking Sydney with, in particular, the rest of the British Empire and the Asia Pacific region.· The association of the place with the significant persons of Robert Campbell, George Atherden and Thomas Playfair, who were all, during the 19th century, important local businessmen and property developers whose commercial activities shaped the immediate townscape around the site including the general alignments of streets and property boundaries.· The association of the building with the significant groups of persons in the form of three corporations: Harrington's Ltd, for whom the building was constructed, and who were prominent in the importation and manufacture of photographic materials across Australia in the early 20th century; Concrete Constructions Ltd., who built the structure, and were prominent in the pioneering use of concrete and one of Australia's largest building firms during the 20th century; and the NSW Housing Board, which operated between 1912 and 1926 and managed the re-shaping of the street and cadastral pattern during this period that created the current lot and arranged for its leasehold tenure by Harrington's Ltd.The item meets this criterion at the LOCAL level.
Aesthetic significance: The aesthetic significance of the 1926 Harrington Building is demonstrated by:· Its contribution to the aesthetically distinctive townscape of The Rocks, which is characterised by a richly eclectic mix of residential, commercial, retail and tourism structures and uses, covering a similarly rich chronology of time periods from the mid-19th to the early 21st centuries. This distinctiveness was described in 1979, on the cusp of the adaptation of the building to its current uses, as the 'wriggly architecture' of The Rocks, to which the Harrington's Building made a notable contribution.54· Its landmark qualities in The Rocks being related to two characteristics: its height and is location on a bend in Lower George Street. At the time it was built, its height made it a visually prominent building in the townscape beside the harbour, and along with the tall chimney and mass of the Electric Light Station (later Mining Museum, 1909) and the Bushell's Warehouse (1912) imparted a sense of the 'modernisation' of the resumed area in the early-mid 20th century. Its location made the building, and its façade advertising highly visible in The Rocks and surrounding areas. These landmark qualities have, since the construction of taller buildings in the vicinity during the later 20th century, and the addition of the 1984 Holiday Inn Building, become somewhat obscured.· It exemplifies a particular taste, style or technology in the use of the Federation Warehouse style, with its characteristic rectangular facades, plain face brickwork, plain parapet, quasi-structural expression in the facades, and well-proportioned fenestration. There are other more notable examples of the style in The Rocks, such as the Bushells Warehouse, New Metcalf Bond Store and the Electric Light Station, but it remains a well-proportioned and highly simplified use of the idiom for a functional and utilitarian building.The item meets this criterion at a LOCAL level.The technical significance of the 1926 Harrington Building is demonstrated by:· The way it shows technical achievement in the use of a reinforced concrete frame and floors over several stories on a narrow, 'L' shaped footprint. This occurred at a time when reinforced concrete was replacing the use of steel for multi-story building structures due to its cheaper costs, and the plasticity and malleability of concrete, especially on 'non-standard' sites such as this with unusual lot shapes.The item meets this criterion at a LOCAL level.
Social significance: The social significance of the 1926 Harrington Building may be demonstrated by:· The potential for associations with identifiable groups in the community, in particular descendants of the Cadigal people and contemporary Aboriginal communities that may be evident in the bend in George Street on the eastern side of the site that may follow a Cadigal walking path, and in the potential for archaeological resources associated with Cadigal people in the unexcavated area beneath the northern wing. In both cases, such material evidence may form powerful symbols of the interactions between the Cadigal and colonists in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, and the continuing survival and renewal of Aboriginal cultures within the vicinity of Sydney Cove and the broader harbour environs in the present-day. This potential social significance is assessed to be of a high level unless it can be demonstrated to be otherwise.· The potential for associations with identifiable groups in the community of the underlying archaeological resources beneath the northern wing, which may be associated with descendants of convicts and residents of The Rocks before the 1920s, and the extant building which may have associations with descendants of former business operators and employees in the building. Other identifiable groups associated with the history of photography and photographic processing, the history of printing, book binding and paper communications, and the history of maritime communications and trade may also have significant present-day associations with these archaeological resources should they be excavated and assessed.The item meets this criterion at a STATE level
Research significance: The research significance of 1926 Harrington Building is demonstrated by:· Its potential to yield new or further archaeological information as this was part of the initial area of European settlement and has the potential to provide evidence of the period from 1788-1810 when it formed part of the hospital precinct.· Its potential to yield new or further archaeological information is restricted to the underfloor areas of the northern and western wings. These are the only parts of the site that have not been excavated, and potential for archaeological materials associated with previous storage and residential structures and uses, and possibly pre-invasion Cadigal settlement, is high. Although these resources may be representative of similar sites in The Rocks, they are likely to be of a high level of significance due to the rarity of such sites on a state-wide basis.· Its potential as an important benchmark or reference site or type, as an example of a commercial investment building constructed for the purposes of leasing to and accommodating multiple small businesses, in this case associated with the production, importation and distribution of manufactured goods such as photographic and printing materials associated with the development of these consumer goods in the early 20th century. This type of activity was facilitated and supported by the high tariff barriers erected as a consequence of Federation in 1901 to protect local industries from overseas competition. This, as a building type or function, remains a largely un-researched field.The item meets this criterion at a STATE level.
Rare assessment: The rarity of the 1926 Harrington Building is demonstrated by:· The Rocks being the only example of its type, being the sole surviving example in mainland Australia of an 18th century urban layout that, despite several attempts at more formal planning, retains much of its original informal, organic layout that responds to the natural topography and possibly older, underlying Cadigal routes and sites. This street pattern is still discernable, and the underlying archaeological resources contain an extensive record of 18th and early 19th century building fabric and spatial arrangements unmatched in comprehensiveness and scale in Australia. The bend in George Street has been evident since 1780s when the foot track to Dawes Point turned to cross a small sandstone ridge (possibly following an older Cadigal track). The alignment of the Harrington Building (and all its predecessors on the site) responds to this bend, which also facilitates the aesthetic appreciation of the site from the street level. This is a subtle but fundamental contribution by the Harrington Building to this rare, indeed unique, townscape of 'Old Sydney', and is fundamental to understanding why the built form takes its present shape in this location, and the historical values it represents. Comparable 18th century urban layouts in Sydney, Parramatta and Kingston (Norfolk Island) are also significant, but lack the townscape scale and quantity of material evidence still found in The Rocks.The item meets this criterion at a STATE level.
Representative assessment: The representativeness of the 1926 Harrington Building is demonstrated by:· It having the principle characteristics of an important group of items, in this case, the Federation Warehouse style of commercial industrial and storage building. Other examples of the style are evident in The Rocks, the northern CBD, Haymarket, Pyrmont and similar locations close to harbour facilities.· Having attributes typical of a particular philosophy, in this case the introduction and facilitation of light industrial uses in The Rocks, following the plague resumptions, in accordance with philosophies of modernisation through town planning. The same modernising philosophies can be seen informing the location of similar light industrial premises on the CBD fringe in what are now inner-city suburbs such as Newtown, Surry Hills and Camperdown.The item meets this criterion at a LOCAL level.
Physical condition: Partially demolished.
|Australian Theme||NSW Theme||Local Theme|
|Developing local, regional and national economies||Activities relating to buying, selling and exchanging goods and services.|
|Developing cultural institutions and ways of life||Activities associated with recreation and relaxation.|
|Building settlements, towns and cities||Activities and processes for identifying forms of ownership and occupancy of land and water, both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal.|
|Developing cultural institutions and ways of life||Activities associated with the production and performance of literary, artistic, architectural and other imaginative, interpretive or inventive works; and/or associated with the production and expression of cultural phenomena; and/or environments that have inspired such creative activities.|
|Heritage Listing||Listing Title||Listing Number||Gazette Date||Gazette Number||Gazette Page|
|Heritage Act - State Heritage Register||01566||Old Sydney Holiday Inn||10/05/2002||2868||85|
|Heritage Act - s.170 NSW State agency heritage register||Place Management NSW|