Centennial Park, grid ref: E2 on Centennial Parklands Map
About the Superintendents ResidenceThe Superintendents Residence is a fine example of a nineteenth century Victorian-style residence. Built from sandstone quarried directly from the site, its location at the Paddington Gates offers a superb view down Parkes Drive and across Centennial Park to the suburbs beyond.
Designed by colonial architect James Barnet, construction of the Residence began in 1891 and was completed in 1892. The cost of the building slightly exceeded the estimated figure of £1,500. According to the annual return for 1891-1892, the final figure was £1,695.
More well known buildings designed by Barnet include The Garden Palace, (Royal Botanic Gardens 1879); the original Sydney General Post Office, erected at the George Street end of Martin Place in 1947; and courthouses and post offices throughout regional NSW.
Image: Map from 1892 with the Residence circled
The residence is a single storey sandstone building with a slate roof, timber floors and corrugated iron verandah. In 1907, well-known Government Architect Walter Vernon directed the construction of an additional sandstone bedroom and weatherboard bathroom on the southeast corner of the Residence (Vernon also designed the Shelter Pavilion that stands beside Duck Pond in Centennial Park).
In 1922, a sum approaching £200 was spent on repairs, as white ants had done considerable damage. Doors had to be taken out and floors renewed. The following year, the lodge was connected to the sewer.
In 1940, a program of work was implemented by the Department of Agriculture using unemployment relief to address deteriorating paintwork on internal and external woodwork and mouldings, much of which was found to be rotten.
According to historical files maintained by Centennial Parklands, white ant infestation of the Residence continued to be a problem in the 1950s and following an inspection in 1954, the whole of the top section of the roof over the dining room (described as a ‘pole plate’ roof), including the wall and pole plates, ceiling joists, hips, creepers, rafters and sarking were treated. he original roof was reslated in 1964, and again in 1999 following a severe hailstorm.
The Superintendents Residence was occupied by more than just Park Superintendents.
Gardeners, labourers, foremen and Park rangers lived there from time to time. From 1993 to 1995 it was occupied by Park Administration. Conservation works began in 2001 to protect the building’s significant heritage features before it was opened to the public for the first time.
The building then acted as the Parklands' Visitor Information Centre until the establishment of the new visitor information counter adjacent to the Centennial Parklands Restaurant.
Today the residence is used primarily as a temporary exhibition space while the Trust plans an adaptive reuse strategy to ensure this historic building is maintained for generations to come.
Image: Aerial of Superintendents Residence.
Image: Interior of the Superintendents Residence today, with an exhibition in place.
Image: Rear of the Superintendents Residence, looking from Oxford Street.
The conservation works at the Residence in 2001 revealed many beautiful examples of the quality of the original workmanship, including a rich, vibrant internal colour scheme with a gold leaf dado. The works undertaken included:
- Removal of carpets and application of tung oil to timber floorboards. Evidence of the original japanning was also removed at this time.
- Removal of gas heaters from within fireplace openings.
- Removal of paint and reinstatement of the original polished finish to door joinery and skirting boards to expose the Australian cedar.
- New lighting was installed, and built in cupboards removed.
- New drainage, joinery and trim were added to the building’s exterior.
- Soft landscaping and new paintwork to the garden’s existing picket fence.
Centennial Parklands, including the former Superintendents Residence, has been listed as an item of environmental heritage by the following authorities/organisation:
- NSW Heritage Office — State Heritage Register (SHR)
- Australian Heritage Council — Register of the National Estate (RNE)
The residence has been listed individually as an item of local significance of Schedule 3 of the Randwick Local Environmental Plan 1998. It has been classified by the National Trust of Australia (NSW).