Shop and Residence - Bakers Oven
Statement of SignificanceNos. 121, 123-125 George Street, The Rocks, are of State and local heritage significance for their historic, aesthetic and scientific cultural values. The site and buildings are significant as part of the late 19th century development in this precinct and examples of the late Victorian shop and residence/ terrace type buildings in the local area. The change of use and works to the buildings represents the development of the area and its evolution into a commercial and tourist precinct. The group is a good and largely intact representative example of a late Victorian shops and residences and terrace type structures that retain their fundamental form, scale,character, fabric and Free Classical details and provide evidence of the building practices of the 1880s. Constructed in c. 1880 and 1882 by local business man and politician, Thomas Playfair, the buildings retain Free Classical detailing to the upper façade and ground floor shopfronts which emphasise their original mixed use. The group is recognisable as they are in contrast, in terms of scale and style, to their immediate neighbours. The buildings make a positive contribution to the varied nature of this section of George Street. Together with the adjacent buildings they form a highly visible and identifiable group of commercial and former civic buildings which reinforces the historic character of The Rocks and this section of George Street. The buildings significantly continue to have a relationship with the rear yard. Bakehouse Place forms a prominent and visible element along the Nurse's Walk and recognises an early commercial use of the No. 121 which significantly retains part of the early oven. The commercial uses provide opportunity for interpretation and appreciation of the buildings and site. The buildings incorporate standard construction materials and techniques and building form and layout, and are relatively rare examples of small scale Victorian Free Classical buildings in The Rocks. However, there are a number of similar type buildings located in the City and the wider context. The site and buildings may retain archaeological resources that tell of past way of life and situation of the building occupants, however, it is considered that this would not reveal any information which would not be readily available elsewhere. The buildings are of some local social significance as commercial buildings which have had continuous commercial use to the local and wider community for nearly 130 years.
Housing and shops
Retail and Wholesale
Construction Years: 1880 - 1880
Physical Description: No. 121 George Street is a two-storey commercial property that appears as part of a row of three shops with the same facade design. In fact, No. 121 was built before Nos.123-125 (see SHFA No 4500052), however the front facade was modified when its neighbours were built so that the property appeared as one. The street facade is designed in the Victorian Free Classical Style that was typically used for commercial properties and whenever a veneer of respectability was sought. The classically inspired stucco detailing was applied to the rendered masonry wall allowing for the flexibility of decorative motifs without slowing the construction of the building. (Godden Mackay 1998: 22)Style: Victorian Free Classical Style; Storeys: 2; Roof Cladding: Corrugated iron; Floor Frame: Timber/vinyl and carpet finish; Ceilings: Plasterboard/lined with timber boards
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Historic Notes and Themes
Historical notes: The first major building constructed on the western side of George Street was the hospital by July 1788. Located on the block currently bounded by Globe, George and Argyle Streets, which includes the study site, the hospital was seen as being 'well clear of town' at the time. A temporary prefabricated hospital was added in 1790 with the arrival of the Second Fleet. The hospital was upgraded to include three wings by 1802. The yard and gardens at the north of the hospital covered the study site.The removal of the hospital building from its George Street location opened this land up for development. The site of No. 123-125 George Street was claimed by William Davis, who had arrived in the colony in February 1800 as an Irish exile. Davis was a blacksmith by trade and had been charged with supplying weapons (pikes) to the Irish uprising in 1798. Arriving in Sydney, he was assigned to work in the lumber yard after having received 200 lashes for his suspected involvement in a planned convict escape.By 1809, Davis had left the lumber yard moving first to Parramatta, then returning to Sydney to live at Church Hill. William and his wife, Catherine, prospered in the new colony. By 1816, when the hospital closed, Davis was a successful publican and landholder, having a house at Church Hill and two properties in Parramatta. When the former hospital site became available in 1816, Davis acquired some of the land. This included the former northern wing of the hospital, which Davis converted into four separate houses. These dwellings stood on the site, adjacent to No. 121 George Street until the construction of the Police Station in the early 1880s. With four houses on his land, Davis was not compelled to develop his entire holding at once. A map from 1822 suggests that a quarry may have operated on part of the site. While Davis continued possession of the site, it was not until 1834 that his claim to the land was made official via a grant of 12 perches, made on the 29th October by Governor Richard Bourke. William Davis died in 1834.The grandson of his brother John, John Davis, was appointed co-executor of William's estate with Father John McEncroe, the Catholic Priest at Church Hill, and John Dalley, who owned the property next to Davis' George Street tavern. John Davis took possession of the George Street property and built a house to the rear of it. The George Street frontage remained clear during the ownership of both Davis and Henry Byrnes, who purchased the property around 1877. Byrnes was a waterman in Sydney, operating small boats to service the ships and ferry passengers and cargo between the ships and shore. In the tradition of the previous owners, Byrnes leased the property to be used by traders and store holders. In 1870, W Hooper, a greengrocer, occupied No. 123 and T Barry, bootmaker, occupied No. 125. The shops continued as a greengrocer, (J Paddon) and a bootmaker (J McAuley) until September 1881, when they and the rear buildings were pulled down. Thomas Playfair had arrived in Sydney in 1859 as a sailor in the British Navy aboard the MHS Pelorus. He settled in Sydney after his discharge and went into a partnership with a local wholesale butcher, William Bailey. By 1862, Playfair was operating his own butchery in Lower George Street, providing meat to the ships that were moored in Sydney Cove. In this capacity, he quickly prospered in a lucrative market. In 1875, having lived in The Rocks for over ten years, Playfair was elected to the Sydney City Council as the member for the Gipps Ward, which he represented until a few months before his death in 1893. He served as Mayor of the city in 1885, and in 1889 he was elected to the Legislative Council as the Member for West Sydney, serving until 1891. As a successful merchant, Playfair began to expand his interests in property around The Rocks area, buying land and property. In 1880, with the George Street frontage of No. 121 undeveloped, Henry Byrnes sold the land to Thomas Playfair. Playfair, who had also purchased the two blocks to the south, proceeded to develop the site. He erected a two storey shop and dwelling fronting George Street with a single storey extension and outbuilding to the rear. In 1882, he built two other shops on the blocks of 123 and 125. The façade of these shops, executed in Victorian Free Classical Style was extended to include the front of No. 121 to create the shop front as it exists today. Paddon continued as a fruiterer in the new shop at No. 123, and C W Danielson, bookmaker in the other. Shop No. 125 became an outfitter and importer outlet in 1885. Thomas Playfair continued as landlord until the NSW Government resumed the property in 1900.In 1900, Sydney was subjected to a panic attack that accompanied the diagnosis of the Plague in the city. One of the first cases was found to be in The Rocks, and public attention was focused on the area. The government response to the situation was to resume the entire Rocks and Darling Harbour area, an estimated 900 properties, including houses, shops, hotels, warehouses and wharves and including No. 121 George Street. To administer this area, the Government formed the Sydney Harbour Trust in 1902.While this constituted a substantial change for the owners of the stores, many of the occupants stayed on after the changeover. From 1936, the premises were administered by the Maritime Services Board. In 1970 the Sydney Cove Redevelopment Authority was established to administer and redevelop The Rocks. Nos 121-125 George St were to be demolished but after community protest and Green Bans placed on the area many historic buildings were saved. In 1985 the Sydney Cove Authority was formed, and then in 1999 the Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority was created to administer and protect the area, signalling a new appreciation of heritage in the area.
Historical significance: Nos. 121, 123-125 George Street are historically significant as part of the late 19th century development in The Rocks. They remain as good and largely intact representative examples of a late Victorian shop and residence buildings located in The Rocks and particularly this section of George Street.Constructed in c. 1880 and 1882 by local business man and politician, Thomas Playfair, as speculative buildings, they were used as shops and residences for nearly 100 years when the use of the buildings shifted to commercial and retail uses which reflects the evolution of the area and development of The Rocks into a commercial and tourist precinct.
Historical association: The site is associated with William Davis who initially claimed the land and developed part of the combined sites for commercial and residential use. It is subsequently associated with his heirs and a number of local land owners and speculators including local businessman and one time Mayor of Sydney, Thomas Playfair, who constructed the buildings and other buildings in the local area. No. 121 has been used as sandwich shop/ refreshment room and café since the 1970s and been managed and has been associated with the same family and proprietors since the 1980s. Nos. 123-125 have been associated with prominent Australian artist, Ken Done, and been used as a gallery and shop for Done merchandising since the late 1980s.
Aesthetic significance: The group is a good and largely intact representative example of a late Victorian shops and residences and terrace type structures that retain their fundamental form, scale, character, fabric and Free Classical details. The buildings make a positive contribution to the varied nature of this section of George Street. Together with the adjacent buildings they form a highly visible and identifiable group of commercial and former civic buildings which reinforces the historic character of The Rocks and this section of George Street.
Social significance: The buildings have been occupied by a number of individuals and businesses since their construction. No. 121 has been continuously used as a sandwich/ refreshment shop and café since the 1970s. Nos. 123-125 have also been used as a display gallery and shop since the late 1980s. These uses combined with outdoor seating and dining area, Bakehouse Place, have drawn many visitors to the buildings.
Research significance: Nos. 121, 123-125 George Street are largely intact despite replacement of building fabric such as roof claddings and timber work and internal finishes and remains as a good example of the standard late Victorian terrace type building and that retains its overall scale and internal layout that demonstrates the domestic standards and spatial qualities of a speculative shop and residence type building constructed in The Rocks, which is of Statesignificance is its own right, around the early 1880s. The buildings were constructed using standard building materials and techniques and do not have the ability to provide information that it not readily available elsewhere. Similarly the site may retain below ground resources which may indicate a way of life and situation of the building occupants. The rear has undergone some change and amalgamation of the area. The formation of Bakehouse Place and subsequent drainage works required some excavation and alteration of the rear ground levels with any potential resources likely to be disturbed. Any potential resources would not be unique or rare in the local area.
Rare assessment: Nos. 121, 123-125 George Street are representative examples of late Victorian small scale shop and residence/ terrace type buildings with Free Classical details. They differ to other speculative buildings constructed by Thomas Playfair in the area, as they originally incorporated a ground floor shop in addition to residence. There a number of late Victorian shop and residence buildings constructed in The Rocks, particularly in this section ofGeorge Street, however, these generally were constructed in the decades before or after the subject buildings and differ slightly stylistically and building form or fabric. As such the group are relatively rare in The Rocks, however, there are a number of similarly styled groups in the wider context in the City and suburbs such as Paddington, Surry Hills, Newtown and Glebe. The former bakery is a relatively rare surviving example of such a facility constructed in 1922 and evidence of a traditional skill. Although now partly removed, some of the peel back oven remains, including the iron doors, front wall to the oven and tools which allow the interpretation of an early traditional oven and bakery.
Representative assessment: Despite changes to the buildings and site, Nos. 121, 123-125 George Street retain their original form, scale and character and a sense of the internal layout and remains as an good example of a late Victorian shop and residence development in The Rocks.
Intact assessment: Archaeology partly disturbed.
Physical condition: The exterior and interior of the building are in good condition. There is a continuing need for effective roof level maintenance to ensure the building is kept weather tight. (Godden Mackay 1998: 32-33)Archaeology Assessment Condition: Partly disturbed. Assessment Basis: Floors level with George Street, terraced up to former level of Nurses Walk. Recent building techniques (Bakehouse Place).
|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|
|Register of the National Estate||1/12/036/0384||Terrace of three shops||21/10/1980||2186|
|Register of the National Estate||1/12/036/0380||George Street Business Precinct||21/10/1980||2182|
|National Trust of Australia Register||10285||04/04/1977|
|Heritage Act - State Heritage Register||01588||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|