To Your Health ! - Health Department MacQuarie St Sydney - The HDR Experience

Philip Johnson

Newport Beach, Australia

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The Health Department Building built in the late 1800’s is listed on the Heritage Register.

The Ritz Carlton, formerly Health Department Building, is a four storey building in the Federation Free Style, located on a prominent corner of Albert and Macquarie Street. The building has high historic significance as an important building in the professional work of the Government Architect, W E Vernon. The quality of the building is significant as it reflects the consolidation of Macquarie Street as a government precinct. The Health Department Building is an important component of this precinct because it exemplifies an increasing government commitment to areas of social welfare such as health. It has high aesthetic significance for its design which is well resolved. The facade has outstanding potential due to its successive restorations to continue in its restored state. The building is important in the stylistic development of Vernon after assuming the role of Government Architect, which shows evidence of the English and American arts and crafts movement, in particular the work of Shaw, Macintosh and Richardson. The building has high social significance for its ability to reflect the status of Macquarie and Bridge Streets as a prestige address for many government institutions. The building is a landmark building as the site of the Venereal Disease Clinic from the 1930’s to the 1980’s
This building was constructed as government offices for the New South Wales Board of Health in 1896-1898. The Board was created through the Infectious Diseases Supervision Act of 1881, and the Noxious Trades and Cattle Slaughtering Act of 1894. The initial Health Department was installed in a large private house in Macquarie Street, sharing quarters with a branch office of the Department of Public Instruction, and later with the Parliamentary Draftsman. By 1889 the work of the Department had grown to such an extent that it occupied the whole of the Macquarie Street building, and in 1893 the attics of the house were adopted to accommodate a pathological and bacteriological laboratory. By 1895 it was clear that these premises were inadequate both too small and inappropriate; not “accommodation of the kind requisite to a Health Department conducted and equipped on modern lines”. Towards the end of 1895 the government gave instructions for the erection of a new building on the present site. The land had been allocated to the use of the Department years earlier, and occupied by a temporary building which served the Government analyst for a laboratory. The new building was erected under the supervision of Government Architect W L Vernon, and occupied from 1st October 1897. The building was completed in 1898, for 7528.18.8 pounds. Vernon described the appearance of the building in his annual report for 1898 as “of a somewhat different type to Government offices of the city generally, being a Gothic structure of combined brick and stone work.” He said that the building had “been specially designed to meet the important and increasing requirements of this branch of the Government Service.” In 1988-90 the building was adapted as a luxury hotel with most of its 106 guest rooms accommodated in a new adjoining building. The old building itself was converted into a few guest rooms and the bar, a large room furnished like a nineteenth century gentlemen’s club.

I have to smile that it’s current use is a Bar the building attached to the Sir Stamford Hotel at 93 MacQuarie Street Sydney.

MacQuarie Street contains many grand old heritage buildings dating back to the early years of the Colony of Sydney.

I Captured this image on a recent Red Bubble Meetup.

Equipment: Nikon D300, Sigma 10-20mm lens
Technique: HDR 5 Bracketted Images, Photomatix 3.26 , Capture NX

Artwork Comments

  • Rosalie Dale
  • Philip Johnson
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