History House, at 133 Macquarie Street, Sydney, has been the home of the RAHS since 1970, however the building has a long and fascinating history, which dates back to 1871. Designed by the architect George Allen Mansfield for his uncle George Oakes, a well known pastoralist and politician, the house was the last in the row of quality Victorian town houses to be built on the west side of Macquarie Street, between Bridge Street and Bent Street. It was probably completed in 1872.

The house was a typical Victorian upper middle class town house; a gentleman’s family residence. On the ground floor were a fine entrance hall, drawing room and dining rooms, the public parts of the house and on the first and second floors a study, bedrooms and dressing rooms. The front verandah and balconies commanded a view over the Botanic Gardens and harbour while small balconies at the back of the house, overlooking the back yard, provided additional light and through ventilation. A back wing at right angles to the main house contained the service areas and servants’ quarters. A second stair case in this wing provided access to the house by doors on the half landings of the main stairs so that the servants could move about the house unobtrusively. The basement, which contained the kitchen, was accessible not only from the front of the building but also from Phillip Lane at the rear.

However, the use of the house as a private residence was short lived…

Click here to view and download History House: A First Class House in Macquarie Street, compiled by Dr. Rosemary Annable.

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