NSW Heritage listing for Strathfield Campus

Published: Friday 22nd April 2016

Above: The Edmund Rice Building (Mount Royal) and the Barron Memorial Chapel are two of the buildings which are now part of the heritage listing at the ACU Strathfield Campus.

Message from Associate Vice-Chancellor Professor Marea Nicholson: An eighteen month process culminated last Friday 15 April with the gazetting of the Strathfield Campus on the NSW State Heritage listing. The announcement was made by the Minister for Heritage Mr Mark Speakman this week in conjunction with Heritage Week 2016.  This listing recognises the heritage significance of both the social, aesthetic and technical /research aspects of our campus. We are very privileged that our impressive buildings and significant social contribution have been recognised in this way.

As with most of our campuses, the Strathfield Campus has historic and social significance as part of a state-wide pattern of Catholic Education; first for Christian Brothers, later for lay teachers within the Catholic Education system and, more recently, as a campus for the ACU.

The principal buildings from late 1800s to early 1900s survive, and include what are now known as the Edmund Rice Building, the Barron Memorial Chapel, the Mullens Building, the St. Edmund Building and the Brother Stewart Library.

The Edmund Rice Building is one of the two most significant buildings (historical and aesthetic significance) on the campus and is central to all phases of its history.  This building incorporates the villa mansion, Mount Royal, erected c.1887, which was occupied for a brief period by Sir George Reid, former Premier of NSW and Prime Minister, and the wool merchant and some-time Mayor of Strathfield John Hinchcliff, for whom it was originally built.

Mount Royal is a rare local example of a villa of this period surviving within substantial grounds and minor outbuildings.  The villa has significance as an important example of the work of architect Harry C. Kent and as an early, influential, example of the Queen Anne Style. The fine finishes of the villa exemplify Victorian industry and tastes, and the aspirations and way of life of the wealthy.

We pride ourselves on being responsible custodians of heritage and this has been recognised recently with a number of awards, including the Strathfield Heritage Conservation Awards in 2008 and 2009 for our refurbishment of sections of Mount Royal.

Top and above: Conference Room A in the Edmund Rice Building (Mount Royal) and the foyer of the Edmund Rice Building, are award winning heritage conservation spaces at the Strathfield Campus.

The campus contains several examples of the work of the prominent architectural firm of Hennessy, Hennessy & Co. (earlier Sheerin & Hennessy), who carried out many commissions for the Catholic Church during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.  The most important buildings on the campus associated with this firm are the Barron Memorial Chapel, equally the most significant building (1925), and the Mullens Building (1931). The former is recognised by the Australian Institute of Architects as a fine example of the Interwar Romanesque Style. Their later buildings, most notably the St. Edmund Building, are good examples of the Modernist Style.

Above: The Interwar Romanesque style Barron Memorial Chapel is one of the significant buildings on the campus.

Parts of the campus have aesthetic significance for their contribution to the public domain, arising out of the presence of the buildings of aesthetic significance, their landscape setting and the presence of several fine vistas, in particular along Albert Street from the original gates and from the new main gates on Barker Road.

We welcome the opportunity to make an ongoing commitment to the living heritage on this site, and to ensure that the implementation of our approved Concept Plan recognises the significance of many elements of the site.

My thanks to Br Dan Stewart, Paul Campbell, David Browning, Sarah Donald and all staff involved in this lengthy process and a successful outcome.