Our Heritage

Potts Point

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Welcome to the original home of Sydney's bohemian, eccentric, and socialite societies. 

 

Originally, the preferred address of self-made early settlers it eventually took a different turn in the roaring 1920s and through the Great Depression. The artists, eclectics, and European immigrants moved in and transitioned the area into a one-of-a-kind destination in Sydney.  There's an interesting history behind all our properties in Potts Point: 

Prior to its creative life, Potts Point was the address of choice for many who made their way to the new found land of Australia and set about making their fortunes and leaving their mark, one such person was John Henry Challis (1806-1880), a self-made millionaire who is still remembered by the generous legacy he left behind. 120 years on - a statue of Challis still stands in the Great Hall of the University of Sydney marking his gift in 1890 that still inspires students from all faculties today - a hero of Sydney's education.  His estate covered Challis Ave and its surrounds.

 

Springfield by Sydney Lodges for example, started as a large Georgian estate, transformed into a boarding school. Then became the premier address for high-society visitors wanting fashionable Kings Cross / Potts Point accommodation in the 1920s and 30s. It was then known as "No 9 Springfield Avenue" - the place to be seen and toted in many social, news and gossip articles for wealthy visitors to stay in Sydney.  It was home to many elegant parties, high tea and suppers for fashion and flowers, ladies' gatherings, card evenings, weddings and entertainment for noteworthy guests staying in the area.  

Springfield House 1831  springfield lodge 1933 640x480 springfield 2 
1832 Painting of Springfield House
by Charles Rodius
 Springfield Lodge surrounded by market stalls
around 1933
Springfield today

 

Architectural Influence

Potts Point is home to the most different types of architecture found in any precinct of an Australian city within a few blocks of each other. It's no wonder the Australian Institute of Architects is situated here in amongst them all.   

As you walk the streets, you will notice numerous types of architecture from the Old Colonial or Georgian mansion and villas.   These have used beautiful local Sydney sandstone and are freestanding mansions on their own - here we have some of Sydney's oldest remaining buildings.   Explore the area to find Elizabeth Bay House, Tusculum and Rockwall House - three of those still standing tall in Potts Point from the 1820s.  Join our Neighbourhood History Walking Tour to visit some of these buildings and find out more... 


Victorian Era

Covers a vast time-frame, and also a lot of architecture. Stretching from the 1840s till the 1890s there are many Potts Point buildings from this era  The many terrace house with iron lacework, ornate decoration, the Italiante style, which was the revival of the Gothic style. Wander down Kellett Street, all these houses are reminiscent of these times, now homes to many great restaurants and bars; and also the terraces of the beautiful treelined Victoria Street.   

This leads on to the Federation period: those built around the turn of the 20th century, including Queen Anne, Arts and Crafts, Filigree and others.  These were red brick with beautifully ornate tiled floors with outdoor verandas and decorative coloured lead-light windows with ornate timberwork both outside and inside the homes.

 

Post WW1  -   "When the area became King's Cross in the 1920's; and in the 1930's and Bohemian life reigned supreme"

Visit this archive footage of the history of Kings Cross: the naming of "the Cross" and interview with Dulcie Deamer the Queen of Bohemia (1962). 

 

 

Art Deco 

If you know anything about the area, then it comes as no surprise that Potts Point is reputed to have the highest concentration of Art Deco in all of Australia.  A beautiful era of motifs and designs on plaster ceilings and cornices.  The use of steel and metal, with porthole windows and lead lighting.  Brickwork with geometric patterns or curves.  

Here are some Iconic Art Deco buildings to look out for in the area:

  • The Macleay Regis, 10-12 Macleay Street
  • Cahors, 117 Macleay Street
  • Wychbury, 5 Manning Street
  • Trent Bridge, 17 St Neot Avenue
  • The 'Minerva' Metro Theatre    (pictured below centre)
  • Twenty Macleay Street    (pictured below right)  

 

heritage PP

After WW11 Potts Point’s architecture came into the Modernist period. Modernism rejected the ornateness of art deco and earlier periods and focused on function ahead of form. Modernist architects used glass and simple building materials like concrete to focus on natural light.  Built with strong clean lines and formwork. 

Other Buildings to look out for in the area have had many celebrity guests: - 

  • 57 Macleay Street, the old Yellow House Artists Collective, home to Brett Whitely and other artists of the time. (pictured above)
  • The Metro Minerva Building by night - read more about the current project to Save the Metro Minerva and the Marquee Sheraton Hotel balcony (pictured below right) where the Beatles stayed on their 1964 Australia tour
  • Gemini Building, 40 Victoria Street (designed by Harry Seidler)

minerva and potts point

 

Potts Point is today home to new developments – from converted mansions to highrise new builds. Taking their inspiration from many architectural eras, these buildings offer diverse styles but tend to be built for the way we live today. 

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