I first spied this row of terraces when hunting my first ever house, which was also on Lower Fort Street, Dawes Point. These three conjoined terraces are nearby, and at the time I snapped some pictures of them and the development approvals they had tacked to their doors.
When in the area recently, I noticed that construction has started on these beauties, and I felt compelled to take some snaps while they’re still in this transitory phase. Overgrown and ageing, the houses still summon grandness – probably because terraces of such enormous scope, with soaring, gorgeous windows, so close to the Sydney CBD are remarkable.
The ivy (if that’s what it is – I hope so, because I feel it adds a dash of romance to the picture) creeping up the front of the building signifies the beautiful neglect dichotomy that characterises the terraces.
Since the last time I was in the area, a sign recounting 59 Lower Fort Street’s history has been erected. Signs like these make me giddy with excitement – particularly when there is no owner around to interview.
According to the sign, 57-61 Lower Fort Street were constructed in 1855-1856. This places them in the early Victorian period. Unsurprisingly, given the scale and opulent finishes of the buildings, they were occupied with the upper echelons of society (including “the superintendent of electric telegraphs”!). There seems to be a prevailing myth that terraces were ‘slums’, which isn’t so; while many became slums, particularly in areas like Waterloo in the first half of the twentieth century, the easiest way to discern the social stratum of the original occupants of a terrace is common sense – does it looks like it was occupied by a blue collar worker, or by a well-to-do professional?
In 1900, the row was resumed and used as a boarding house during the period of the Bubonic Plague – a tidbit of information I found eerily intriguing.
According to the sign, the row of terraces will be refurbished as single private dwellings, which is good news – they will remain houses, rather than becoming apartments or a trendy office space.