When the rare opportunity of restoring two dilapidated Victorian period Georgian style terraces in Millers Point presented itself in 2016, the Ottomin Group, being a long-term resident of The Rocks and passionate about early colonial architecture, was attracted to the opportunity of contributing to the heritage restoration of these 170-year-old terraces.
Originally known as the ‘Victoria Terraces’, the houses were built in 1847 and 1848, and were named in honour of the newly crowned Queen of England. They are both rare surviving examples of Sydney’s early housing stock and one of the few survivors of the first phase of the residential development in the Millers Point area.
The four-storey pair of terraces are constructed of dressed ashlar blocks, believed to have been quarried from the site and share a carriageway, which originally led to the now-demolished stables and coach houses located in the rear.
Interestingly, the design of the terraces was driven by the fire regulations introduced in London in the eighteenth century and in Sydney in the late 1830s. These fire regulations resulted in all timber joinery being set back or contained within the masonry external bounding walls. Likewise, separate slate roofs concealed behind parapets sort to distinguish one terrace to the next.
In the early 1900s, in response to the bubonic plague and the insanitary condition of the wharves and the adjoining properties, the terraces were placed into the administration and ownership of the State government. Whilst initially remaining as single residences, by the early 1940s, the terraces were converted into ‘rooming houses’ and, by the 1980s, contained a series of bed sits with small kitchenettes and a bathroom attached on each level. The freehold sale of the properties was completed by the NSW Government in 2016.
As the restoration of the four-storey terraces back to its original 1840’s glory nears completion there is a shared sense from those involved that the opportunity to enhance and promote the heritage nature of these buildings and history of the area has been a great privilege.