Martin Place Heritage Walk

The name honours Sir James Martin (1820-86), Premier of NSW when the GPO was being built in 1872, and later the Chief Justice. It was originally designed as an open area space in front of the GPO and known as St Martin's Place or Post Office Place, and was acquired for this purpose at a cost of £125 per foot. It was extended from Pitt Street to Castlereagh Street in the 1870s after a fired burnt down many buildings in the extension area and it had to be totally re-developed, replacing Moore Street. The footpath on the southern side is where Foxlow Place used to be. Foxlow was the middle name of a daughter of businessman Sam Terry whose name was once given to Angel Place. Colloquially known as Post Office Street until 1889, it was extended to its present width in 1892. The section from Castlereagh Street to Macquarie Street was not created until 1935.

Site of The Great Fire of Sydney
The fire of 1891 which began in Gibbs, Shallard & Co.'s printing works devastated a whole city block from Moore, Pitt and Castlereagh Streets to Hosking Place. Warehouses and offices were completely destroyed in the blaze, which covered an area of some 2.25 acres. With the destruction of buildings on the north side of narrow Moore Street the opportunity was taken to widen the street as a continuation of the wide street in front of the GPO, the beginning of the present day Martin Place which runs from George to Macquarie Streets. A Green Plaque marks the location.

General Post Office
1864-1887 - Martin Place, Sydney. At the opening of the first stage, the GPO was described by the Postmaster General as a building that "will not be surpassed by any other similar structure in the southern hemisphere". Built on a grand scale and at huge expense, it dominated the streetscape and skyline for decades and symbolised the prosperity Australia was enjoying in the wake of the gold rush and the economic boom it had fostered. For Sydneysiders, it symbolised their city in the same way that the Houses of Parliament symbolise London and the Eiffel Tower, Paris, and remained its most well known landmark until the Sydney Harbour Bridge (1932) and the Sydney Opera House (1971) stole the limelight. When its tower was completed in the 1870s it became Sydney's tallest structure (73 metres) and remained so until 1939 when the AWA Tower, at 111 metres, took over the honour.

Built of stone quarried from the rocky escarpments of Pyrmont in grand Classical Renaissance style. the Martin Place section was constructed between 1866 and 1874, the Pitt Street section being added between 1881 and 1885. The controversial relief figures in the stonework were created by Tomaso Sani, and were intended to represent Australians.
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  • ANZAC Cenotaph
    (1929); The Art Deco Cenotaph is the site of Sydney's annual Anzac Day war remembrance service. The bronze statues of a soldier and sailor, which are mounted on a granite base, are the work of sculptor Bertram MacKennal. The design of this 'altar of remembrance', as Mackennal described it, is unusual in its simplicity - a rectangular block of granite, flanked by realistic, slightly larger than life sized figures depicting a soldier and a sailor, standing guard.

    The Cenotaph has played a long-time role as a ceremonial focus for memorial services by numerous veterans' organizations, individuals and groups representing civilians affected by war. Its role in the inauguration of the Dawn Service, a major part of every Anzac Day ceremony, enhances its association with a deeply felt strand of popular remembrance. Positioned in a pedestrian thoroughfare in Sydney's central business district it maintains a solemn reminder of the sacrifices that Australians have made at war.
    • Heritage Listing

    • Former Bank of Australasia Building
      1908: 2 Martin Place (cnr George St), Sydney. An American Romanesque design by Edward E Raht, an American architect who introduced this decorative style to the Sydney streetscape. The building is a scarce example in Sydney of a turn-of-the century bank, containing one of the finest banking chambers surviving in the City. Its facade is almost all rusticated rock-faced trachyte, with a polished base and smooth trachyte columns, window mullions, cornice and parapet. The Ban's motif is carved on a semicircular pediment above the splayed corner. Internally, the former banking chamber has a mezzanine at the eastern end, Ionic columns and a coffered ceiling, painted in blue, cream and gold leaf. The lift lobbies have marble floors, stairs, walls and (at street level) ceilings, and contain a working bird-cage lift in a wrought steel cage with a cast iron lift car.

      The Bank of Australasia merged into ANZ in 1951. The building features Bowral trachyte facades, polished marble pillars, heavy wrought iron screens on the ground floor windows and a lavish banking chamber with marble floors, counters and columns and a decorated coffered ceiling. The building has recently been refurbished and will now house retail space.
      • Heritage Listing

      • Challis House
        1907 - 4 Martin Place. A 12 storey building which required 9 metre deep foundations to the bedrock beneath as it is built over the Tank Stream. Government Architect Walter L Vernon had a hand in the building's design which was financed by John Henry Challis (1805-1880), the great benefactor of Sydney University. The 1937 rebuilding of Challis House signifies a major reconstruction period of many buildings in the Martin Place precinct, its facades being good examples of restrained 1930s architectural Art Deco design. The height of the masonry facade reflects the 1938 prevailing building height limit of 45 metres, which it shares with and thereby is closely aligned to the adjacent CML Building, the nearby Bank of New South Wales, and the Commercial Banking Company in George Street.

        Challis House is a 12/13 storey reinforced concrete framed structure with 1930s Art Deco style sandstone facades above a polished red granite base to Martin Place and Angel Place with, a bronze coloured mansard roof behind a parapet, and a loft tower to the eastern end. The original Challis House had a lower ground floor (below pavement level) in the eastern half of the building with a sub-basement below. The west side of the building had only a basement area (untenanted) below pavement level. When the building was reconstructed in 1936 it was increased in height, the structural framework was completely removed and replaced and the appearance of the building was totally altered.
        • Heritage Listing

        • Colonial Mutual Life Building
          1896 - 10-16 Martin Place. During the 1890s, Sydney experienced an influx of North American insurance companies establishing offices in Australia. Many erected office buildings similar in style to their US head offices. This one is steel framed of trachyte and sandstone. In the 1970s, the insurance company planned to replace the building with a newer, taller structure. Public opinion against the project led them to incorporating the facade of the original building into the new 18 storey headquarters in 1976.

          The old Colonial Mutual building facade is a superb example of a Victorian Free Classical facades in carved trachyte and sandstone. It is an important example of the work of an eminent NSW architect John Kirkpatrick. When it was gutted in 1975 and adapted to its new uses, the four storeys added in the 1920s were removed and the present copper and glass mansard storey erected above the pronounced main entablature. It is now the corner component of the Colonial Mutual complex whose tower building addresses Pitt Street alongside and cantilevers over part of the old building.
          • Heritage Listing

          • Savings Bank Building
            48-52 Martin Place, cnr Elizabeth and Castlereagh Sts (1928). The former Commonwealth Savings Bank building is a magnificent, imposing example of Beaux-Arts design featuring four massive Ionic columns and pilasters clad with pink tiles. The interior, featuring a grand hall and banking chamber, is largely intact and sumptuously decorated in neo-Classical style in green marble. the building was rebuilt and meticulously restored in 1987. The public is welcome to visit the banking chamber which in its day was one of the largest in the world and today is probably still the finest in New South Wales.

            The former State Savings Bank occupies a full block in a prominent site in Martin Place. It is of Inter-War Beaux Arts Style. The ten storey facade comprises a ground and mezzanine externally clad deep red granite base. This building made a key contribution to the creation of Martin Place as a major town planning initiative. It reflects in its materials the wealth of natural resources available for building within NSW and Australia. It is considered to be the finest work of the significant architectural firm of H. E. Ross and Rowe, one of Sydney's most prominent commercial architectural practices during the first third of the twentieth century.
            • Heritage Listing

            • Former MLC Building
              1937-38 - The former Mutual Life and Citizens (MLC) Building is one of the best inter-war commercial office buildings in Sydney, and the best example in Australia of the rare exterior use of Egyptian-derived motifs in such buildings. Its design and materials are of high quality, making it one of the principal contributors to the architectural character of Martin Place. The building contains a substantially intact insurance chamber and relocated remnants of other architectural features. The building is one of a small group (about a dozen) of major commercial office buildings constructed in Sydney during the second half of the 1930s. The design is the work of Melbourne architects Bates, Smart and McCutcheon who were the winners of a design competition. The large, red, carved letters MLC  are still visible on the clocktower, although there are no clockfaces<.
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              • Colonial Centre
                1985-89 - 52 Martin Place, Sydney. Architect: Peddle Thorp and Walker Architects. Cost: $ 92,500,000
                Created to provide Head Office accommodation for the State Bank of NSW, it includes an office tower and supporting facilities including shops and parking. Redevelopment of the site involved the demolition of an Art Deco building ( the Rural Bank headquarters). Typical of contemporary Sydney office towers, the lowest level of the building provides food and retail facilities in an arcade that links to Martin Place rail station. The ten levels of podium which incorporate the banking chamber are occupied by the bank. This space overlooks the rectangular-shaped atrium.

                A sports complex high over this banking chamber is linked back to the tower by twin bridges. This sports complex, which includes squash courts, a gymnasium and a swimming pool, is suspended from a rectangular portal truss that is located at level three and spans the site width of 36m. Hanging steel mullions of 18m long were used to support the glazed facade to Martin Place and the bridges that join the atrium space to the garden feature. On the sides, 23m long mullions were suspended to support the glazing.

                On 30 August 2004, Sunrise, Seven News Sydney and Seven Morning News moved from their studios in Epping to the Seven News centre at Martin Place. Passers by can look through the window and watch the program go live to air. The Martin Place location has hosted some of the biggest acts in the world, including Justin Bieber and One Direction.

                Commonwealth Trading Bank Building
                108-120 Pitt Street (Cnr Martin Place) Sydney. Built in 1916, this 12-storey building was designed and project managed by the Sydney architectural firm, J & H.G Kirkpatrick. The building was the first, large-scale all steel-framed "skyscraper" in Australia. Known as the "Sydney Bank" within the Commonwealth Bank, it was built to be the headquarters of the Commonwealth Bank of Australia, which served at the time as Australia's central bank. It is nicknamed the "Money Box Building" due to its depiction on money boxes distributed by the Commonwealth Bank to children starting from 1922.

                The building is Grecian Doric in style, with strong horizontal emphasis and a heavily overhung cornice. Miller, as bank governor, exercised considerable influence over the design and supervision of the building. As well as the ground floor banking chamber, and governor's office and other areas expected in such a building, the bank also included rooms for the Governor General and the Prime Minister. There was a banquet hall on the ninth floor which was used for many VIP dinners, including one for the Prince of Wales in 1920. In 1922 the bank released the famous Commonwealth Bank tin money box which was a representation of the building. Over time the building has become recognised as a national symbol, and it has served to reinforce the bank's august persona, and its strength and wealth.

                The Commonwealth Bank was created in 1911 under order of Prime Minister Andrew Fisher. Its head office was designed by architect John Kirkpatrick, who was the cousin of the bank's governor. In August 1916, the building opened. The building was expanded with extensions designed by E.H. Henderson and F. Hill between 1929 and 1933, and in 1966 construction was begun on an annex, completed in 1967. From 2012 the building was extensively refurbished. The 1960s extension was rebuilt, while much of the 1916 building and 1930s extension was stripped out and refurbished.

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  • Commonwealth Bank money box ... modelled on the Commonwealth Bank building, 108-120 Pitt Street, Sydney

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