Recent Home Living Property Culture The Team North Shore Living
Recent Home Living Property Culture The Team North Shore Living

Historic architectural gems of Sydney’s North Shore

Written by Matthew Bourn
It’s the eternal story of Sydney property. The North Shore had boasted limited European settlement from the 1820s but it wasn’t until property speculators targeted the North Shore from the 1860s that the area was opened up to further settlement.

In fact, it was due to the lobbying of a group of property developers that the North Shore line was built to service the various subdivisions. Opened in 1890, the first iteration serviced Hornsby to St Leonards with the line extension to Milsons Point opening in 1893.

As the colony emerged from the deep economic woes caused by drought and a decreased demand for wool (Australia’s core industry), sales of land on the North Shore accelerated along with the population growth.

While many flocked to the North Shore to take up permanent residence, there was a cohort of wealthy businessmen who built grand weekenders.

Our building history heroes

With a slightly slower pace of development came also large plots of land and mansions. Stately homes in the 1930s in particular were characterised by expansive gardens, one of which in its heyday required a team of up to 14 gardeners to keep in check. And if you’ve ever wondered why camellias are so popular in Sydney’s northern suburbs, read on.

9 Highlands Ave, Wahroonga

Built for the retailer, Anthony Hordern in the early 1890s, the heritage-listed property featured extensive gardens created by Hordern’s wife, Caroline. The property is heritage listed as being a prime example of an interpretation of Shingle Style, a North American building style pioneered in Australia by the Canadian-born Australian architect, John Horbury Hunt.

20 Tulip St, Chatswood

From around the turn of the 19th century, Wyckliffe is a fine example of Federation architecture. From the Willoughby Council’s Ward report of 2014, we see the house has “local architectural significance as an excellent example of a large Federation house with fine quality exterior materials, detailing and form, largely intact and notable interiors, and important remnants of 1900 era site development in a prominent location. The house is well detailed with a turret on the north-eastern corner and a voluminous slate roof denoting a sizable house, giving Wyckliffe a landmark presence in the
area. The sandstone and cast iron fences on both main street boundaries and the sandstone gate posts establish the prominence and importance of the house in the locality”.

17 McIntosh St, Gordon

Another heritage-listed property, Eryldene is remarkable for being an excellent expression of Georgian Revival in an Australian context. However, the home is noted especially for its vast camellia gardens developed by the original owner, Professor E.G. Waterhouse. Waterhouse became a major influence on garden landscapes of the North Shore and his work on identifying and naming the many varieties of camellias led eventually to his establishing a national collection of camellias in Sutherland Shire. Eryldene itself opened as a museum in 1993. It is open to the public every second weekend of every month from April to September each year, and for special events at other times.

Rothiemay: the haunted house
Fox Valley Road, Wahroonga

A local landmark previously known as both ‘the haunted house’ and ‘the white dame of Wahroonga’, this hybrid Georgian Revival and Art Deco home inspired by Hollywood homes of the 1930s boasts an impressive sandstone wall and steps leading to an imposing portico. The clean interior is complemented by a beautifully detailed spiral staircase. Restored in 2016, Rothiemay garnered the Ku-Ring-Gai Architecture + Urban Design Awards 2017: Heritage and Building Design award.

The Gothic Theatre: Gone but not forgotten

The building in Willoughby (on Penhurst Street) was sadly demolished in 1999 after it developed structural faults. Built originally by the Hoyts Theatres chain, it opened in 1938 as the Hoyts Willoughby Theatre. By 1958, Hoyts had closed the cinema but luckily for Willoughby residents, the owner of the Willoughby Royal Theatre assumed control and renamed the cinema the Gothic Theatre after a short-lived royal yacht, the SS Gothic.

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