Friday 26 February 2016

Rosebank Street to Forbes Street - Number 197

The central building here is one of the earliest in the William Street of 1916. Although heavily camouflaged by the addition of a late-century verandah, the original building of stone with a slate roof is clear. Built in the 1840s, when William Street was litle more than a track, the house is of four rooms with twelve-paned windows upstairs. The central window upstairs has been altered, allowing the use of glass larger than was technologically possible when the house was new. The overall flavour of the building is "colonial Georgian" at its most modest.

Maurice Solomon, a man well known in Sydney property circles in 1916, owns the house and rents to yet another bootmaker, Jacob Applebaum. Council records show that the rent paid in 1916 was roughly 1 per week. From the posters we are told that "The French Fighting Front", a war show, is on at the Sydney Town Hall. The New Adelphi is playing "As You Like It" and "Othello", "Peg o' my Heart" is at the Marcus and at the Hippodrome is something entitled "Kultur", the Macquarie Dictionary definition of which is "culture as a social force causing evolutionary development to higher forms of civilisation". On the ground, beside the woman in Applebaum's doorway is a cocky in a cage, more visible on page 108), a symbol, very popular in Sydney at the time, of a less exalted culture.


This woman, with her magnificent profile, was cropped from the original 1916 image by Max Kelly. Few days, even in winter, in Sydney, would require one to be wrapped up so warmly.

Kelly had also cropped the image of the building, located within the City of Sydney Archives. The original image is this one below.

I think I prefer the uncropped version. It emphasises the contrast between the 1840 style of building, and the buildings constructed toward the end of the century. The building, only having four rooms, did not lend itself to subletting by Applebaum.

This sketch by S.T. Gill in 1856 (courtesy SL-NSW), gives an idea of what William Street looked like when No. 197 was in its prime.