Shop, Rockpool Restaurant
Statement of SignificanceThe buildings at 107-109 George Street are of State significance as an integral part of the fabric of The Rocks and associated with all key phases of its history, from the establishment of the Colony. A particular association lies with the importance of the harbourside of Circular Quay to the commercial precinct of The Rocks in the mid-nineteenth century. The building is a very fine representative example of commercial buildings designed in a mid-Victorian Regency style that also reflect a strong degree of confidence in this area at the time of its construction by its owner, Patrick Freehill. The architectural design qualities of the buildings and their previous use as a combined shop and residence, for which evidence remains, provide rarity value for these buildings. The buildings are also significant because they have had a continual commercial use since they were built. Its use since the 1970s as a restaurant continue this commercial history and also reflects the growth of this area as a tourist destination. It is also as an early example of the restoration work of the Sydney Cove Redevelopment Authority. The Rockpool restaurant is a long running iconic Sydney restaurant that contributes to the character of The Rocks as an international tourist destination. The site at 107-109 George Street is a place of high archaeological research potential. The surviving fabric has the ability to yield information on early building techniques as well as the way of life for the inhabitants. The rear section of the property incorporates the ground floor sandstone wall of a former two-storey stables/bakehouse. Should sub-surface archaeological resources remain intact, the site is likely to yield important evidence of material culture that contributes information about the development and occupation of The Rocks area that is unavailable from other sources.
Shop and Bakery, residences
Retail and Wholesale
Construction Years: 1860 - 1860
Physical Description: Construction at 107-109 George Street commenced in 1861 on the three-storey, plus basement and attic, masonry buildings. These buildings are constructed of sandstone on the George Street facade and unrendered brick at the rear. The north facade of 107 and south facade of 109 have a smooth ashlar-jointed rendered brick finish. The party wall between the two buildings is of brick construction. There is a hipped roof over each property with two rendered brick chimney stacks, each with six pots, straddling the common wall.A single-storey section at the rear of both buildings incorporates some earlier, 1857, sandstone walls with a new rendered brickwork parapet wall above. The roof structure of this section was built as part of the 1988 interior design for the Rockpool restaurant.In 1988 the architectural firm, D4 Design undertook the refurbishment of the ground and first floors of 107-109 George Street for Neil Perry, Chef, of the Rockpool restaurant.(Godden Mackay 1999:33)Style: Renaissance Revival; Storeys: 3 + Basement; Roof Cladding: Iron; Floor Frame: Timber
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Historic Notes and Themes
Historical notes: The subject site was part of the first hospital grounds from 1788; by 1790 a new prefabricated hospital replaced the earlier tent hospital. By 1800 there were three structures in use for the hospital and it appears the subject site lay between the most northerly hospital building and the assistant surgeon's house which stood on the SW corner of Argyle and George streets. The hospital store building may have extended over this the subject site.By 1812 some small, single storey buildings occupied the site; these could have been the store houses for the hospital. In 1816 the new 'Rum Hospital' opened in Macquarie Street, the original hospital on George St was demolished and the site became a government stone quarry.The site was later granted to Mr Broughton who appears to have given it to his wife, Elizabeth, as it is her name that is notated on later maps. The Broughtons did not build on the land until 1832 or 33 when they erected a dwelling and a shop.In November 1841 the land was subdivided and offered for sale, it was divided into four Lots, Lot 1 is the present 109 George St, Lot 2 is 107 George. The plan for the auction shows that there was a shoe shop on Lot 1 and a structure marked as 'Mr Bradley house and shop' on part of Lot 1 and along the street frontage of Lot 2. This single storey two roomed shop had wooden walls and a roof of timber shingles. Broughton sold Lot 2 (no. 107) to John Donohoe in 1842 who immediately erected a single storey wooden bakehouse timber shingled roof. It appears that Donohoe purchased both Lots as he is indicated as the owner in 1845 on the rates records, the first year they were collected. In 1854 Patrick Freehill purchased Lot 2 in 1854 and Lot 1 in 1856. Freehill erected a bakehouse and store to the rear of his two properties during 1857. The stone store with timber shingles was three storeys and contained ovens and stables. The lower sections of walls still remain. In 1860 P Freehill erected a four storey (inc. basement) buildings to on both Lots. The southern half of this building was described in Sydney Municipal Rate Books of 1863 as a 'Public House' constructed of stone walls and slate roof. Freehill retained the rear store and bakehouse of Lot 1 but conveyed the Public House known as 'The Shipwrights Arms' to Reverend P Young in 1868. Freehill mortgaged his property to the Bank of NSW in 1874 and in 1876 the 'Official Insolvency Assignee Alfred Sandeman' conveyed the property to the Bank. The premises remained a hotel called 'The Shipwrights Arms' until 1900 when the name changed to the 'Chicago Hotel' and Margaret Riley licensee. Nos 107 and 109 George St were resumed by the Government in 1901, these building survived the demolitions that occurred around the area because of their substantial nature and relatively young age. Around 1910 the Hotel on 109 George St became a fish shop and later a caf?. 107 George St was a clothes shop between 1900 and the early 1920s, initially run by Mrs K Symonds and then WH Kent and Co. After that it became a hairdresser. By the 1960s, 107 George St contained a laundry and a museum with residential apartments in the upper levels and 109 was a restaurant known as ?The Rocks Push?.The building has undergone extensive remodelling during the last half of the 20th century, in 1978 the Rocks Push Restaurant expanded into 107 George requiring extensive renovations including the removal of the party wall between the two properties. In the same year the central section of the top floor sandstone George St fa?ade was reconstructed due to structural failure. In 1980 the shopfront of 107 George which was remodelled in the 1920s was reconstructed to match the existing original at 109 which was also restored. After 1985 the original residential entrance doors were removed from both buildings and replaced with fixed glazing and the paint was also removed from the sandstone fa?ade.The building were again extensively remodelled on the ground floor for the opening of the Rockpool restaurant by Neil Perry, Rockpool opened in February 1989 and is still the tenant.
Historical significance: The buildings at 107-109 George Street have historical significance for the following reasons:? No. 107-109 George Street is located on a site that was integral in the early development of the colony, being associated with the first hospital and later, an early quarry.? 107-109 George Street is representative of the nature of development of privately built and owned commercial properties found in The Rocks in the mid-nineteenth century as part of the development of the northern end of George Street as a commercial centre associated with the maritime activity of Circular Quay. Located within The Rocks business precinct these buildings are associated with a period of growing commercial confidence in New South Wales. The building, with its fine sandstone construction and design, is a good representative example of this phase.? The history of this site reflects the history of The Rocks generally. Starting as part of the site of the Colony's first hospital, its early development reflects the first commercial developments on George Street and in the Nurses Walk area before their consolidation and more intensive development in the middle part of the nineteenth century.? The c1970 refurbishment of the building was one of the first undertaken by the then Sydney Cove Redevelopment Authority (SCRA), a significant phase in The Rocks in the late twentieth century.? The combined uses of commercial premises with residences over is a typical pattern for this midnineteenth century period within The Rocks.? No. 107-109 George Street is typical of the private waterfront properties resumed by the Sydney Harbour Trust in the early-twentieth century.? The buildings have had a continuous commercial use since they were built in 1861. They have been predominantly used as a hotel and baker's in the nineteenth century and as a barber and restaurant throughout the twentieth century.
Historical association: The buildings at 107-109 George Street are significant due to the following associations:? The site is located in the historic Rocks precinct, which is associated with the convict settlement of Australia as the earliest area of Sydney to be developed.? The site on which 107-109 George Street is located is associated with the first hospital in Australia.? The site is located on George Street, initially known as High Street, which is associated with the earliest and longest operating business precinct in Australia, with 107 and 109 George Street operating as commercial premises continuously since construction in 1861.? The site is associated with early activities of the Sydney Cove Redevelopment Authority (SCRA) and was one of the first buildings restored by SCRA.? The site is associated with significant restaurant establishments in Sydney; The Rocks Push restaurant in the 1970s and since 1988, Rockpool, under head chef Neil Perry.
Aesthetic significance: The buildings at 107-109 George Street have aesthetic significance for the following reasons:? No. 107-109 George Street displays a high quality architectural design typical of the Victorian Regency style, such as its symmetrical facade, decorative sandstone parapet and restrained classical detailing.? No. 107-109 George Street, located in a row of commercial and public buildings of similar scale, materials, detailing and alignment to the street, contributes to the distinctive streetscape of George Street, in the historic Business Precinct of The Rocks.? Although the Rockpool restaurant interior design of 1988 obscures heritage fabric and spaces it is also of some aesthetic significance as representative of post-modern design influences on interior design and architecture.
Social significance: The buildings at 107-109 George Street have social significance for the following reasons:? The Rocks area is an area of Sydney that is well visited by locals and tourists. It has been the subject of many planning schemes and when threatened with demolition, the high regard that the locals, people of Sydney and national and international visitors have for this unique place has been clearly demonstrated.? Much has been written on the importance of The Rocks as an example of an accumulation of urban artefacts which together present the growth of the area.? The Rockpool restaurant has been an icon of Sydney dining for nearly two decades with Neil Perry as head chef.
Research significance: The buildings at 107-109 George Street have technical/research significance for the following reasons:? The fabric, although modified, has the ability to yield information on the configuration of early- Victorian commercial/residential buildings and aspects of the way of life of the people who inhabited them.? The site has potential to contain sub-surface archaeological deposits associated with occupation of the area from the early settlement period in The Rocks.? The site may contain evidence of successive phases of use as a bakery from the mid-nineteenth century.? Archaeological deposits and features, particularly when considered in conjunction with documentary evidence, can provide evidence of material culture that yields information which may be unavailable from documentary sources alone. If present, remains of occupation from as early as the early-nineteenth century on the site would comprise an archaeological resource which might contribute data that leads to a better understanding of the social, economic and cultural history of Sydney and The Rocks area in particular.
Rare assessment: The buildings at 107-109 George Street are rare for the following reasons:? The intact sandstone facade to George Street is a very fine example of mid-Victorian Regency architecture and a rare example of this style applied to commercial buildings constructed by individual developers of this period.? The site retains elements of a pair of combined shop/residences, a mixed use once common throughout both The Rocks area and Sydney.
Representative assessment: 107-109 George Street is representative of the following classes of cultural heritage places:? As part of a relatively small group of early-to mid-Victorian sandstone buildings remaining in Sydney and as a good example of the Victorian Regency style;? As part of the group of buildings in The Rocks that have had a continuous commercial use since they were built. They have been predominantly used as a hotel and baker's in the nineteenth century and as a barber shop and restaurant throughout the twentieth century;? As a good example of the phases of development in The Rocks; firstly as part of early colonial Sydney, as part of the early commercial development of George Street and of mid and later nineteenth century confidence and expansion;? As an early example of the SCRA redevelopment projects when it was restored in c1970 as The Rocks Push Restaurant.? As part of the group of mainly commercial buildings along the western side of George Street that were constructed largely in response to the maritime activities nearby, with combined residences and businesses strategically positioned to capitalise on the mercantile activity and the steady flow of visitors and sailors to the colony in the mid nineteenth century12.
Intact assessment: Potential archaeological resource
Physical condition: Archaeology Assessment Condition: Partly disturbed. Assessment Basis: Floors at or above George Street level, but below level of Nurses Walk.
|Australian Theme||NSW Theme||Local Theme|
|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|
|National Trust of Australia Register||6695|
|Register of the National Estate||1/12/036/0383||Bakery House and Loft (former),||21/10/1990||21/10/1980||2185|
|National Trust of Australia Register||7096||09/11/1981|
|Royal Australian Institute of Architects register|
|Heritage Act - State Heritage Register||01590||10/05/2002||2868||85|
|Heritage Act - s.170 NSW State agency heritage register||Place Management NSW|
|Within a National Trust conservation area||10499|
|National Trust of Australia Register||7716||27/02/1978|
|Register of the National Estate||1/12/036/0382||Commercial Buildings||21/10/1980||2184|
|Register of the National Estate||1/12/036/0380||George Street Business Precinct||21/10/1980||2182|