Thursday 28 January 2016

Rosebank Street to Forbes Street - The Post, Money Order and Telegraph Office and Commonwealth Savings Bank (Corner)

The Post, Money Order and Telegraph Office and Commonwealth Savings Bank,corner of Rosebank and William Streets.

James Barnet, the Colonial Architect from 1865 to 1890 and the architect of this building, was a man who left his very specific mark on the Sydney landscape. He is best known for those splendid urban monuments, The General Post Office in Martin Place, the onion-domed Lands Department building, and the Customs House at Circular Quay. Each indicate how dependent was Barnet upon the architectural themes of the Italian Renaissance. The columns and colonades, the capitals, and arches, speak as much of Roman and Florrentine palazzi as they do of grandiose public buildings in the colony of New South Wales.

But an architect is truly tested when it comes to smaller structures, and Barnet designed dozens of more modest public buildings. They again invoke the classical adherence to strength and volume balanced by scale. They also avoid pretension. This post office is a fine example. Form here certainly follows function, yet the building itself is strong, diverse, and visually exciting. Furthermore, it totally rejects the overdone and showy embellishments so common to a number of Sydney's public buildings being built towards the century's close.

For his purpose, Barnet certainly chose an image with a narrative, and the narrative here swirls around the woman in white descending the front steps of the Post Office to the footpath. However, these other images were also available courtesy of The City of Sydney Archives.

Also taken on 19 June 1916,this image still has the horse in Rosebank eating from his chaff-bag. It also shows the advertising on the wall for John Hodgens, grocer.

These images identify the post office as 235 William Street, which Max Kelly does not. However, the CoS Archives have them both dated 28 July 1926. This does not seem reasonable, as in the second image the building next door to the post office has been demolished. The building is in a sad state, covered with posters. The second shot shows that the buildings on the OTHER side of Rosebank have already been demolished and rebuilt, as they are set further back. It is a decade since the resumption orders were issued.