Sydney Architecture Images- Gone but not forgotten

First Government House

architect

It is not known who prepared the Georgian design for the building, although clerk Henry Brewer and convict builder James Bloodworth have been cited as likely contenders.

location

Phillip Street

date

Built- 1788  Demolished- 1846
First Government House and its service buildings were demolished in 1846 and the bricks and other building materials sold at auction. Shortly thereafter, Phillip Street was realigned and extended to the newly reclaimed Circular Quay, so that it ran across some of the First Government House foundations.

style

Old Colonial Georgian 

construction

The house took just over a year to build, and was constructed with 5,000 bricks imported from England, as well as locally produced bricks and lime mortar.

type

Government
Summary Site of colonial government on edge of town. Site now marked by the Museum of Sydney.
Image A
Government House, Sydney 1836 by Charles Rodius
Image B
First Government House, Sydney, c. 1807. John Eyre
Image C
Government House, Sydney Cove c1809, where Governor Bligh was detained for 13 months from January 1808 to February 1809. Reproduced courtesy of Mitchell Library, State Library of NSW
Image D
Sydney: Government House, an 1802 watercolour painting by William Westall, depicting what was then Sydney's Government House.
Image E
Louis de Sainson (French, 1801-1887)
Maison du Gouverneur a Sydney…, 1833. Hand-coloured lithograph, artist, title and printer's line below image, 19.4 x 31.2cm. Repaired tear and minor soiling to margins.
Text continues "(Nouvelle Galles du Sud). Hostein lith. fig. par V. Adam. J. Tastu Editeur. Lith. de Lemercier." Depicts the first Government House in Sydney Cove which is now the site of the Museum of Sydney, Bridge Street. Louis de Sainson was the official artist aboard Dumont D'Urville's L'Astrolabe, during the ship's voyage to Australia and New Zealand in 1827.
Image F
Macquarie Place represents one of the most historically significant urban spaces in Sydney and Australia, which was first established less than 25 years after the arrival of the First Fleet. The 1810 park and its later monuments outline the development of Sydney since its colonial foundation. Macquarie Place was the first and main town square of colonial Sydney and is a surviving remnant of the first town centre of Sydney beside First Government House (now demolished) and on the original foreshores of Sydney Cove before the shoreline was extended. The Obelisk, erected in Macquarie Place in 1818, is the geographic centre point of nineteenth century Sydney, the Colony, and the network of nineteenth century roads throughout NSW. It was erected in this location by Governor Macquarie to mark the place from where all public roads were to be measured and has continued to perform this function over most of the history of European settlement in Australia, for over 190 years. The park and monument were well recognised landmarks of colonial Sydney and appeared in many nineteenth century artist views, including paintings by Conrad Martens.


 
Image H
Excavation of the First Government House, backfilling trenches against water damage. First Government House and its service buildings were demolished in 1846 and the bricks and other building materials sold at auction. Shortly thereafter, Phillip Street was realigned and extended to the newly reclaimed Circular Quay, so that it ran across some of the First Government House foundations.

Image I
Before you even enter the Museum of Sydney (MoS), note the steel studs and white granite pavers in front of the museum. They outline the site of the first Government House (1788-1846). There are displays explaining details of the floor maps outside and in the viewing cube in level 3.
For a long time, the site of the first Government House was forgotten and buried under a car park (1960s). It was not before an archaeological dig in 1983 which revealed its remains that this site was acknowledged again. This place now houses the oldest remains of British settlement in Australia.
 
First Government House
by Laila Ellmoos, 2008 Creative Commons License

Governor Arthur Phillip laid the foundation for the first Government House only three months after the First Fleet landed at Sydney Cove. Phillip's new house was planned as a three-bedroom cottage, but soon expanded to become a two-storey dwelling. The house took just over a year to build, and was constructed with 5,000 bricks imported from England, as well as locally produced bricks and lime mortar. It is not known who prepared the Georgian design for the building, although clerk Henry Brewer and convict builder James Bloodworth have been cited as likely contenders.

Aboriginals at Government House
First Government House was an important site of early contact between European settlers and Sydney's Aboriginal population. Arabanoo, an Aboriginal man captured by Phillip at Manly in late 1788, lived at the first Government House for about five months. In May 1789 Arabanoo died from smallpox and was buried in the Government House gardens. The following November two other Aboriginal men, Bennelong and Colebee, also from Manly, were captured under Phillip's orders. They too lived at Government House until they escaped, within six months. After Phillip's return to England in 1792, this type of forced contact with the local Aboriginal people was not actively pursued.

The house crumbles
Nine successive governors lived at First Government House, from 1788 to 1845. A second Government House, built at Parramatta in about 1799, was considered the official residence by Governor Brisbane during his term of office from 1821 to 1825.

First Government House developed a number of structural faults during its lifetime, a consequence of its hasty construction and the inferior materials used to build it, combined with rising damp. The building was noted to be in a dilapidated state as early as 1799, and constantly underwent repairs from that time. The building was substantially modified and enlarged to accommodate the governors and their families, and plans for its replacement date from at least 1817.

A new Government House
In 1817, Governor Macquarie instructed the convict architect Francis Greenway to prepare plans for a new Government House and stables within the Governor's Domain, which had been proclaimed in 1812. By 1821, only the stables were built, as Macquarie's ambitious program for the colony was curtailed following criticism from the Home Office and others who testified at the Commission of Inquiry into the Affairs of the Colony.

In 1832, Governor Bourke decided to move Government House further north-east within the Government Domain on the advice provided three years earlier by Thomas Mitchell, the surveyor-general. Mitchell's proposal was a result of demands for greater wharfage for the burgeoning Sydney settlement, which required the land occupied by the government gardens in front of Government House. Construction began on the new Government House in 1837, to a design by Edward Blore, and was completed in 1845.

Museum of Sydney on the site
First Government House and its service buildings were demolished in 1846 and the bricks and other building materials sold at auction. Shortly thereafter, Phillip Street was realigned and extended to the newly reclaimed Circular Quay, so that it ran across some of the First Government House foundations.

In the twentieth century, the site was used for the Museum of Sydney.

References
Peter Bridges, Foundations of Identity: Building Early Sydney 1788–1822, Hale and Iremonger, Sydney, 1995

Penny Crook, Laila Ellmoos and Tim Murray, Assessment of Historical and Archaeological Resources of the First Government House Site, Sydney, vol 5, Archaeology of the Modern City Series, Historic Houses Trust of New South Wales, Sydney, http://www.latrobe.edu.au/amc/assets/downloads/5_FGHAssessReport.pdf, viewed 24 November 2008

Joy Hughes, First Government House Site in the 20th Century, Museum of Sydney, Sydney, 1995

Helen Proudfoot, Anne Bickford, Brian Egloff and Robin Stocks, Australia's First Government House, Allen & Unwin and New South Wales Department of Planning, Sydney, 1991

Link (with thanks to)
http://dictionaryofsydney.org/entry/first_government_house
 

 

www.sydneyarchitecture.com 

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