Sydney Architecture Images- Gone but not forgotten

Pettys Hotel


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On Wynyard Square, at the south-west corner of York and Jamieson Streets, Sydney.


Built- 1836   Demolished- 1976


Victorian Italianate


Rendered brick Stone


Summary The hotel gained an extra floor c.1880, and here are eight views from earliest to latest, judging by the height of the (bunyah pine?) trees at the front. Early time-lapse photography!
Above- c. 1868. (small bunyah pines).
Above- c. 1868.    Photo by Bayliss, Charles, 1850-1897.
Above- c. 1898.  (the lovely bunyah pines have gone).
It is the resort of the most distinguished visitors to Sydney, including English and French Noblemen…It is also the rendévous for all the wealthy squatters of new South Wales, Victoria, new Zealand, and the other colonies…[I]t contains about forty bedrooms, several private apartments, bath rooms, billiard room &c. The situation is central and has an almost suburban quietude. The tastefully laid out garden in front…gives it all the appearance of a gentleman’s mansion.

S.T. Leigh and Co., The Handbook of Sydney and Suburbs, F. Cunningham, Sydney, 1883, p.38

Petty’s Hotel, at No. 1 York Street, Sydney, opened in 1842 and advertised itself as conveniently located to the Botanic Gardens, Theatres, Post and Telegraph Office and the Termini of Foreign and Intercolonial Steamship Lines. The hotel’s verandahs and balconies were ‘charming retreats’ from which guests could take in views of the city.

In keeping with the hotel’s high standards, an 1853 advertisement for two ‘active’ waiters in The Sydney Morning Herald stated:

To persons who thoroughly understand their business, and can produce testimonials of sobriety and capability, the highest wages will be given.
Along with a wide range of distinguished real-life guests, Petty’s also accommodated the eponymous female character in Peter Carey’s 1988 Booker Prize winning novel, Oscar and Lucinda. Lucinda arrives at the hotel with her suitcase, places a cauliflower on the reception desk and asks if there is a reliable library nearby. Although she has recently inherited a fortune, Lucinda is so dishevelled that the staff first think she has the wrong address.

After more than a century as a hotel, Petty’s closed on the first of September, 1950, having been sold to the Red Cross. The following day The Sydney Morning Herald ran a report on the last night at a much loved Sydney institution.

The building, fronting York, Clarence and Jamison Streets, was previously the residence of Presbyterian minister, John Dunmore Lang, who supervised the construction of the first Scot’s Church on Church Hill. Lang sold his home to another hotel-keeper before it was bought by Thomas Petty in 1836. Following two and a half decades of use by the Red Cross, the elegant colonial structure was finally demolished in 1976.

Photography by Henry King, Tyrrell Collection.
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