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From Carousal to Arousal

Thursday, 02nd June 2011

A Government centre built in 1867 for wild Colonial boys and girls is being tastefully transformed into six two-bedroom luxury apartments.

Heritage House in Forbes Street, Darlinghurst, was conceived by the Father of Federation, Sir Henry Parkes, as a ‘safe haven’ for those caught on the town carousing. While these party-goers may have been causing mischief they were not necessarily hardened criminals and didn’t deserve to be thrown in gaol.
Parkes, who was the Colonial Secretary at the time, knew that most of the rabble-rousers were simply in high-spirits. He recognised that ‘spirits’ had played a big part in their condition, and reasoned that they just needed a place to sleep off the effects.
One who took advantage of the benevolent lodgings was the famous writer and poet Henry Lawson. Several times, apparently.
The original centre was two-storeys and had dormitory-type accommodation as well as some holding cells in the basement for those who needed to be restrained. Over the years the building was remodeled, with a third storey added in 1935.
From 1962 to 2009 the building was part of the Caritas health care facility, run by the Sisters of Mercy under the auspices of St Vincents Hospital.
Heritage House is planned to be the centrepiece of the $150-Million residential development Dominion, which fuses colonial history and contemporary design on the triangular 4,488sqm site bordered by Forbes, Burton and Bourke Streets.
St Hilliers and Cbus Property, in consultation with heritage architects NBRS+Partners and Group GSA architects, are renovating and regenerating Heritage House, as well as the site’s grand gates, palisade iron fencing and beautiful sandstone perimeter walls.
The building’s historical exteriors will be retained, and time-honoured craftsmanship and a palette of the world’s finest materials utilised.
All apartments will have balconies or terrace areas, richly-stained timber floorboards in living areas, and extremely rare three-metre high ceilings which will accentuate the feeling of space.
As historic as the building is, the interiors will be contemporary, with everything needed for a modern lifestyle, including a lift and air-conditioning.
Each apartment will be slightly different, with individual features and layouts, but all will come with one secure car space. With parking at a premium in this popular area, realtors value each space at around $100,000.
Colliers International is conducting a Registration of Interest campaign for the six Strata Title apartments in Heritage House.
“This is an incredibly rare opportunity for a handful of discerning buyers who want the benefits of living in a tranquil oasis close to the city,” said Murray Wood of Colliers International. “While the surroundings are historic the location is energising, just minutes from Sydney’s finest restaurants, hotels, parks, sporting and entertainment facilities.”
The leafy courtyard outside Heritage House will be returned to its former glory. Gardens will be revived and the lawns will have cobbled pathways, contemporary outdoor seating and a water feature, with discrete CCTV and secure entries ensuring peace will be preserved . . .
unlike those of the wild Colonial days.
Heritage House, at 299 Forbes Street, East Sydney, is expected to be ready for occupancy by the end of 2012. It can be viewed from 11am to 1pm Thursday to Sunday, or by appointment on 1800 013 932. Further information is available on

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