Postcards from 100 years ago




 Landmark Buildings

Theatre Royal,    South Head Lighthouse,    Criterion Theatre

Commonwealth Bank Building,    Lands Dept.   Colonial Secretary's Office

Metropole Hotel,            Australia Club,    Marcus Clark




426 Castlereagh Street -Theatre Royal -Hotel Australia

Castlereagh Street -Theatre Royal -Hotel Australia

424 South Head LighthouseSouth Head Lighthouse

Waiting for Matinee - Criterion Theatre

408 Criterion Theatre

The intersection of Park and Pitt Streets Sydney has a colourful history. In the 1860s the South East Corner was occupied by a poetical basket maker. He used his skills to make rhyming advertisements to attract customers. Twenty years later this corner became the home of one of Sydney’s most famous theatres, the Criterion or ‘Cri’.

The theatre had a neo renaissance exterior designed by architect George R Johnson. Johnson built the theatre for proprietor John Solomons in 1886.All that remains to remind Sydney of that proud old traditional theatre is a hotel. The Criterion Hotel stands where it always stood, but its next door neighbour is a traffic filled street rather than its old partner, the Criterion Theatre.
In 1935,it was announced that the Criterion theatre was to be demolished to facilitate the widening of Park Street. The increasing use of cars necessitated the upgrade of the city’s roads.

The closing date was set for 13th July 1935. (This postcard was posted to Algeria)

 393 Commonwealth Bank Building

Commonwealth Bank Building - Sydney


 374 Lands Department Building

 Lands Department


325 Colonial Secretarys Office




 Colonial Secretary's Office






325 Colonial Secretary


Hotel Metropole

The Hotel Metropole, with frontages on Young, Bent and Phillip streets, was built by the Australian Coffee Palace Company at a cost of 150,000 pounds and opened on the 14th of January, 1890. At the opening ceremony, Mr McBean, chairman of the company, declared it ‘a splendid establishment’ and Mayor Burdekin described the architecture, by Hennessy and Sheerin, as magnificent.

he Hotel Metropole closed in 1969 and was demolished soon afterwards.

303 Hotel Metropole




Australia Club in the Domain

The Australian Club is a private club founded in 1838 and located in Sydney at 165 Macquarie Street. Its membership is men-only and it's the oldest gentlemen's club in the southern hemisphere. It enjoys reciprocal arrangements with other clubs of its type including; the Melbourne Club, Boodle's and Brooks’s in London, the Pacific-Union Club in San Francisco, California Club in Los Angeles, Union Club and Knickerbocker Club of New York City and the Somerset Club in Boston. 

250 Australian Club

Milton Terrace

Location: 1-19 Lower Fort Street, Millers Point, NSW 2000:  Constructed: 1880 - 1882

Grand three storey, five bedroom, Victorian Italianate terrace with basement - one of ten in a row. Decorative facade with large incised motifs and iron lace. Verandah infill on second storey, deep projecting parapet, and spear fence enclosing small front garden. Storeys: 3 Construction: Painted rendered masonry, corrugated galvanised iron roof. Timber and cast iron balcony. Spear fence cast iron. Style: Victorian Italianate
One of the finest remaining large scale Victorian residences in terrace form in Sydney. Superbly sited facing Dawes Point Park, it ably complements the other early terraces adjoining in Lower Fort Street. Thus serving to create one of the most notable nineteenth century residential streetscapes in Australia.

A grand range of three storey terrace houses with basements consisting of nine houses having two bays and one of three bays. A strong unity is given to the Italianate stuccoed facades by a deep projecting parapet and first floor balconies having cast iron columns and balustrades, linked at ground floor level by an iron picket fence enclosing small gardens and steps to the stone basement. Chimneys are grouped into seven banks spaced along the ridge line. Balconies have been enclosed.

194 Milton Terrace


Marcus Clark Building - the tallest building in Sydney


125 Marcus Clark125 Marcus Clark Bldg

From a modest start in the Sydney suburb of Newtown in 1883, Marcus Clark & Co rose to become one of the city's largest department stores with a network of branches in towns and suburbs across Australia. Henry Marcus Clark (1859-1913) established the company when he purchased the drapery business of his former employer, John Kingsbury. The business quickly expanded, trebling itself within five years, and soon opened new stores in Marrickville and Bondi Junction. In the Sands directory for 1894, Marcus Clark was listed as a "wholesale and retail draper, tailor, milliner, boot warehouse and fancy repository; the largest, best lighted and most comfortable establishment in Newtown, the floor space covering nearly an acre."  

In 1896 Marcus Clark & Co opened a store closer to the city on the corner of George & Harris Street near Railway Square. It was, however, a slightly different concept as it stocked less expensive wares than their other stores and was given the name Bon Marche, a reference to the famous Paris department store. The success of the store led to a larger building being constructed on the site in 1909 but also influenced Marcus Clark to build more stores around Railway Square. 

Marcus Clark & Co made arguably its biggest and most lasting mark on Sydney in 1906 when the James Nangle-designed Central Square building, known as the flat-iron building, was erected on the corner of George and Pitt Streets, Railway Square, on the site of an early toll-gate. For all visitors entering the city from the south it was an impressive sight: a landmark nine-storey structure of 150 feet in height, the tallest in Sydney at the time. It was probably also about this time that the company became a true 'universal provider', and a catalogue from around 1910 (TCQ 749.20491 CLA) lists departments ranging from manchester to ironmongery, musical instruments to stationery. 

Marcus Clark & Co emphasised value for money, like many department stores of the day. The preface to a furniture catalogue from around 1914 (TC 749.20491 CLA) states that "you can very likely get more timber and upholstery for your money – but nowhere can you purchase more lasting satisfaction and furniture friendliness." By this date, a new furniture showroom had been constructed, also on Railway Square, to be extended in 1928 by architects Spain & Cosh into another impressive 10-storey building with clock tower. 

On the death of Henry Marcus Clark in 1913, his son Reginald Marcus Clark (1883-1953), who was knighted in 1939 and then known as Sir Marcus Clark, took over the business. The company continued in family hands until taken over by rival department store, Waltons, in 1966. Marcus Clark's Bon Marche store had already closed in 1961 and moved to the Sydney suburb of Liverpool and the Railway Square store closed in July 1965. 

Henry Marcus Clark. - The Man 

Newtown's most well-known alderman attended only five meetings. He was an enterprising and energetic shopkeeper who courted self-publicity. Henry Clark was born in 1860 near Sefton and Liverpool in Lancashire England. He arrived in Melbourne in 1880, worked in the countryside in Victoria and then came to live in Sydney in the early 1880s.  






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