Sydney Architecture Images- Gone but not forgotten

Anthony Hordern’s Palace Emporium


No info available.


George Street (current site of World Square)


Built 1905 Demolished 1985


Victorian Italianate


stucco on brick


See also
Anthony Horderns Palace Warehouse
former Horderns Emporium/ Barlow st
This building always struck me as a counterweight to the QVB sitting up the road, another block-sized Victorian super-store. I felt at the time that I was alone in mourning its passing. I still wish they could have kept the facade. It would be famous.
To celebrate their centenary they gave out oak seedlings specially imported from England (their slogan was "While I live I'll grow". Vaguely prophetic. This was set, along with an oak tree, in the terrazzo at the entry doors). Oaks from this are still living all over Sydney, one being at the Oaks Hotel in Cremorne.
  Nineteenth Century images- State Library of New South Wales
  Above image copyright Simon Fieldhouse
Early Days- previously on the site.
Post-cards, Media
The 1950s-70s
Above- 1957
On the site today-
From Malaysia and Singapore, the family's Ipoh Gardens group was best known for its renovation of the Queen Victoria Building. In 1981, it paid $13.5 million for Anthony Hordern's, which was built in 1905 but had been closed for more than a decade.

Five years later, the then planning minister, Bob Carr, seized control of the site from the then Sydney City Council, which the Government sacked the following year.

Carr ignored objections from the National Trust and the Heritage Council of NSW, approving a $1 billion development on the site, to the disappointment of one sacked councillor, Clover Moore.

She told the Herald: "It is a tragedy to see the street facade of Anthony Hordern's, to which people could relate, being demolished. I hope the developer can provide a streetscape of the same feeling with its podium."

Nearly 20 years on, the developers have changed, Moore is Lord Mayor and the streetscape is nothing like the old store.

Moore, however, is not commenting on the development of World Square, or whether her objections of the 1980s have been mollified.

(Information courtesy of NSW Heritage Office and Chris Clark)
The Anthony Hordern retail dynasty had humble beginnings; Ann Hordern's stay-making business developed into a drapery and millinery shop at the front of her King Street house.

Husband Anthony's coach building business was at the rear. The business prospered into a fully fledged department store, with The New Palace Emporium opening in 1905, after the previous building had burnt down in 1901. (It has been said that the store was based on the principles of Whiteleys in London).

By the 1920s they operated a mail order department and employed over 3,000 employees. The Anthony Hordern Building and Pavilion were built in 1924.

The History of Anthony Hordern Limited was written by J J Redmond and published in 1938, the 115th anniversary of the shop. It was a revised and enlarged History of the House of Anthony Hordern, first published in 1932.

For the Anniversary year, 50,000 oak seedlings were imported from England in celebration of Anthony Hordern's anniversary. Sydney is still dotted with many of these trees.

The most famous surviving oak was planted by Kathleen McGill in 1938 at the Oaks Hotel, Neutral Bay on Lower North Shore. The current hotel owner distributed further seedlings on the tree's 60th birthday, continuing the Hordern theme "While I live, I'll grow".

The company was taken over by Waltons in 1969 and de-listed in 1970.

In 1985 Lesley Hordern published "Children of One Family. The Story of Anthony & Ann Hordern and their Descendants in Australia 1825-1925."

With thanks to Alan Quinn
  The previous AH store after the fire.
  Click images for larger versions.
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  The Hordern home.
  Anthony Hordern & Sons

Anthony Horderns was a large department store in Sydney, Australia, which was originally established in 1825 as a drapery shop by a family decended from convicts from the First Fleet. The store grew into the largest department store in Sydney. Hordern's also operated one of the largest mail order businesses in Australia.

A huge six storey building was opened in 1905, called the New Palace Emporium. The monumental store was located on the corner of George, Pitt & Goulburn Streets in the southern end of the CBD. The development of suburban shopping malls during the 1960's and 1970's sealed the fate of the store. It was closed in the 1970's (after being purchased by Waltons) and was used by the NSW Institute of Technology (now UTS) for many years.

The store (and surrounding buildings) was demolished in the early 1980's for the infamous 'World Square' development, which remained a hole in the ground for nearly twenty years, before finally being completed in 2004. The destruction of the building was a tragedy for architecture in Sydney, though the now completed World Square is a fine addition to Sydney's skyline.

There are still some legacies left in Sydney, such as the Hordern Pavilion.

A postcard showing the store in it's early days.
"Everything from a hairpin to a harrow" trumpeted the advertisements and they were right. With 52 acres (21 hectares) of retail space, Anthony Hordern's was once the largest department store in the world. Gone. All gone. The cheese department with blocks of cheddar laid out on marble counters to be cut with peg and wire by an assistant in a gray dustcoat; the activity overseen by a manager whose status was declared by his black alpaca; the china department where a frisky bull would have fallen to its knees exhausted before managing to smash the hundreds of Aynsley tea sets; the myriad Shelly sandwich trays on display there. The famous milk bar; the antique department and art gallery; the boys' and youths' department where I was outfitted for a navy serge school suit and boater before being dispatched to boarding school; the curved glass display windows with bronze mullions and the store's famous oak tree symbol atop them, all gone. Sydney Morning Herald, Column 8, date n.k.