Sydney Architecture Images- Glebe

Venetia [Bellevue]


Ambrose Thornley Jnr.


55 Leichhardt Street Blackwattle Bay park site of former Venetia (demolished),




Victorian Italianate


A common Australian type. Asymmetry and a faceted bay are its main Italianate features.
Bellevue is of restrained Italianate design and is of stuccoed brick construction. Part two storey stucco, new fibre cement shingle roof- plaster eaves brackets bullnose verandah. Multi-bedroom single storey building with large entertaining areas and numerous basement rooms.


Bellevue was constructed c.1896 and designed by local architect Ambrose Thornley and is a compromised example of a modest late Victorian dwelling with some characteristics of the Italianate style. It is one of the few surviving examples of mid-late Victorian dwellings that characterised Jarrett's Point on the Blackwattle Bay foreshore. The dwelling's form and general aesthetic character is representative of its architectural style, the late 19th century period of construction and the phase of residential development in the local area at the time. However the comprehensive loss of detailing, joinery and ornamentation in association with its dilapidated state has eroded the representative formal aesthetic values of the place.

Bellevue is significant to the local area for its landmark aesthetic values associated with its prominent siting on Jarrett's Point in the open space setting of Blackwattle Bay Park. The dwelling is highly visible from a number of significant vantage points in the area and is a significant and characteristic feature of the Glebe foreshore area. Bellevue was also the focus of the ocal community during the mid-1970s when it was saved from demolition by developers through the actions of ardent local residents (City Plan Heritage, 2005)

The growth of industry in Glebe, especially along the foreshores, had been encouraged by the development of wharfage in Rozelle and Blackwattle Bays. By 1945 there
were 158 factories in Glebe, and they employed 4,496 workers. Bellevue is now derelict. The City of Sydney’s 2004 Glebe Foreshore Plan provides for its restoration.


Alexander Brodie Spark (of Tusculum and Tempe House) purchased this site as part of his 20 acre lot in the Church subdivision of 1828.

In the 1840s depression Spark became bankrupt and his land was sold.

By 1870 Mary Chisholm owned large portions of the original grant, and she commenced the subdivision and sale of the remaining lots in 1873. Ambrose Thornley owned a house near the point at this time (west of the Bellevue & Venetia lots), and a bathing house (later known as Homecroft) had been built c.1858 on the foreshore of the land owned by James Rothwell, immediately west of lot 45/Venetia). A second bathing house was built in the shallows of the adjacent (to Lot 45) foreshore.

Lots 45 & 46 adjacent to Rothwell's land were bought by William Jarrett in 1873, with a mortgage from the Industrial & Provident Permanent Benefit Building Society, of which Jarrett was manager. Jarrett had arrived in Sydney in 1853 and in 1860 became licensee for the Tradesmans Arms Hotel in Leichhardt. He was a publican until 1870 when he started his association with Industrial Buildings Societies.

William Jarrett is first listed in the 1876 Sands Directory as a resident of Glebe Point, having previously resided in Glebe Road, suggesting he built Venetia (on lots 45 & 46) in 1875).

Ambrose Thornley Senior, who already owned the land and had built his house Drayton Lodge to the west of Jarrett's land, bought lot 47 on the point.(the site of Bellevue). In 1876 he sold lot 47 to William Jarrett. Jarrett was a Glebe Alderman for 3 years from 1872 and gave evidence to the Government's Select Committee on Immigration in 1880. Venetia was known to be full of art pieces, many collected on the Jarrett's overseas travels. A very strict father, his children and their spouses continued to live at Venetia, even after their marriages.

By 1880 a row of 7 houses had been built in then Kennedy Street (renamed in 1909 as an extension of Leichhardt Street). Jarrett also built a row of 4 houses further west in Oxley Street. In 1890 a residence, The Poplars, was built opposite Venetia.

Jarrett built a second house Bellevue, adjoining Venetia in 1896. It was designed by Ambrose Thornley Junior, an architect who lived nearby in Florence Villa, and is typical of Thornley's designs, which included the Glebe Town Hall. Thornley was declared bankrupt in the 1890s and became a publican.

Bellevue is reputed to have been built for Jarrett's daughter, although the first occupant was Ewin Cecilia and J G Warden moved in a year later. It was described in the family history as a 'multi-bedroom single storey building with large entertaining areas and numerous basement rooms'. Jarrett died in 1901, and it was not until 1913 that Bellevue and Venetia were sold to solicitor William Archibold Windeyer, in July 1913. Extensive reclamation and sea walls had extended Jarrett's original lots (viz. 1913 plan of Windeyer's purchase).

The 1905 Sands Directory shows Joseph Stinson (who owned the largest real estate agency in Glebe at the time) occupying Venetia and Thomas Riley occupying Bellevue. This was still the case in 1914, however from 1915 there are no further listings of Venetia, suggesting it was demolished by Windeyer in 1914/5, soon after his purchase.

Bellevue was occupied by Mrs Lena Reilly in 1920, and from 1924 until 1925 by George Cavanagh. From 1925 the transition of the Point from residential to industrial uses commenced. 53 Leichhardt Street for a short time became a lighterage for McEnnally Bros. & Co. Ltd. While the sites of Venetia and The Poplars, together with Bellevue were incorporated into the Vanderfield & Reid Ltd. Timber Yards. 49-53 Leichhardt Street became Sylvester Stride's shipbreaking yards. The crane which remains on the foreshore today (2004) to the rear of numbers 49 & 51B was part of Stride's operation. Although Stride demolished parts of the houses on his site, they remained relatively intact during his ownership, number 49 becoming part of the offices for the salvage and wrecking business.

Windeyer sold his land on the Point to Property Purchase P/L in 1939. Vanderfield & Reid Ltd. Bought the property in 1948. The c.1950 survey by the City of Sydney shows the extent of their timber yard holdings, north and south of Leichhardt Street. They also extended their holdings into the bay, as large numbers of logs were floated ready for processing. A c1970 photo shows a building (now demolished) had been attached to the rear of Bellevue (its south).

In 1970 the extensive Vanderfield & Reid holdings were sold to Korvette Hardware P/L, with mortgage finance provided by Parkes Developments P/L and CAGA Finance. Parkes became known as the developer of the sites. At this time the foreshore land was zoned industrial, and described in the "The Glebe" newspaper as "a disaster area - deserted timber yards, empty fuel drums littered about, derelict houses and rusting hulks of barges moored to rotting jetties". Only the Maritime Services Board opposed the rezoning of the land to residential.

As part of the rezoning of the Parkes' Land, and the approval process for a large apartment development for the site, the developer agreed to set aside land on the foreshore for a park. This was assisted by community activists and members of the Glebe Society who assisted in particular opposing the demolition of Bellevue.

A condition of development approval was for the restoration of Bellevue for community use, however Parkes commenced demolition. Insisting that it was an unfortunate misunderstanding, Parkes halted demolition but subsequently failed to restore Bellevue's fabric. Parkes also dumped fill which was excavated from the apartment sites onto the Bellevue site. Leichhardt Council subsequently purchased the foreshore parkland, including Bellevue, at the end of 1981.

A section 130 Order was placed over Bellevue on 16 May 1980 to provide time to investigate the retention and re-use of the building.

Blackwattle Bay Park to the south of Bellevue was designed by Stuart Pittendrigh & Associates, who also designed the Reserves at Simmons Point and Peacock Point in Balmain. It was opened in August 1983. Part of the park was created to the west of the Strides site and in 1985 the Strides site was purchased by the then Department of Environment & Planning, for open space to link the two parts of Blackwattle Bay Park. However after the original residences on the site were assessed as having heritage significance, the foreshore was subdivided and retained as a link, while the houses at 49, 51/51A, 51B and 53 had their squatters evicted and were sold with caveats which ensure their restoration and retention. The 5 houses were sold for $800,000.

The foreshore land was transferred to Leichhardt Council in 1987. Council had limited funds to restore Bellevue.

After LEP listing as an item of state significance in 1984 it was re-roofed with slate, assisted by a $17,000 $ for $ grant from the Heritage Conservation fund administered by the Heritage Council. As one of the conditions attached to the assistance the owner applied for the making of a Permanent Conservation Order over the item. To ensure the long term protection of the item the Heritage Council at its meeting of 6 February 1986 recommended to the Minister that a Permanent Conservation Order be placed over Bellevue. The Permanent Conservation Order was gazetted on 25 July 1986.

In 1984 the Glebe Society surveyed local residents and community organisations on possible uses for Bellevue. Council prepared sketch plans, allocating the upper storey for public use and a scheme of funding was presented to Council - this plan did not proceed. In 1988 the Australian Society of Authors expressed interest in establishing its headquarters in Bellevue, with a low level of use and some public access. Changes in Council caused this proposal to lapse.

In 1991 Leichhardt Council called for tenders for the lease, restoration and commercial use of Bellevue, and made a new wharf a condition of its development. Successful tenderer Anthony Vick & Associates was to restore Bellevue and establish a restaurant with water access from a new wharf. The approval also allowed for a kiosk, caretaker's flat and 20 parking spaces. By 1993 the approval had lapsed. After extensive public consultation, the Glebe Society favoured using Bellevue for a 'kiosk, public toilets, park equipment storage and a local environment museum.'

In 1996 Anthony Vick lodged a new application for a large residence, coffee shop/kiosk, gazebo and toilets, which was refused.

In the late 1990s Council also refused an application to use Bellevue as a restaurant with part of the park area providing 22 parking spaces. In 1998 further community consultation occurred when EDAW P/L prepared a Management Plan for Blackwattle Bay Park and Bellevue. Despite the many proposals and community consultations, Bellevue remains derelict and fenced to prevent public access. (City Plan Heritage, 2004)

In 1994 the heritage Council approved work for the conversion of the building into a restaurant and caretakers flat and construction of a kiosk, store and toilets within the courtyard of the property.(this did not proceed).

Bellevue was listed on the State Heritage Register on 2 April 1999.

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