Better streets and spaces

Preserving Sydney Town Hall for future generations

The final stage of a conservation project will see Sydney Town Hall completely restored for all to explore and enjoy.

Sydney Town Hall facade works June 2020

The southern and western façades of Sydney Town Hall will soon disappear behind printed screen wraps and scaffolding will go up in the final stage of a once-in-a-lifetime conservation project.

The façade of the 140-year-old building will be polished, repaired and replaced with local Sydney sandstone in the two-year project.

Work begins on Sydney Town Hall facade
Work begins on Sydney Town Hall facade

Conservation work will also begin on the historic building’s collection of stained glass windows. This meticulous work will take around five years to complete.

Sydney Town Hall is one of the finest examples of high Victorian, French second empire style architecture in Australia.

City Historian Dr Lisa Murray said conservation works are critical for outstanding heritage buildings like Sydney Town Hall to ensure our city’s history is preserved in the decades to come.

“The building’s exterior and interiors exhibit the highest level of craftsmanship and quality materials, showcasing the artistic talents of Sydney’s past architects, builders, artisans and decorators,” Dr Murray said.

“This is a splendid and exuberant civic building that we are fortunate to have retained in the city.

Stained glass windows in Sydney Town Hall
Stained glass windows in Sydney Town Hall

The building was originally designed by J H Willson in 1868 and it was built in two main stages, overseen by a series of architects. It is built on the former site of Sydney’s first official European cemetery.

According to Dr Murray, when the building was completed in 1889, it was the colony’s most daring, technological, and innovative building and it dominated Sydney’s skyline.

“There are so many layers of people, decoration, occasion and celebration connected with this site that together tell the unique history of the City of Sydney,” Dr Murray said.

We began extensive conservation works to Sydney Town Hall in 2012, starting with the clock tower and the eastern and northern facades. Stonemasons carved and lifted sandstone blocks weighing up to 2 tonnes and crafted intricate designs to sit atop the columns of the 55m tall clock tower.

Yellow block sandstone sourced locally from excavated construction sites in the city centre such as the Mirvac development at 200 George Street will be used in the upcoming restoration works.

Related: see panoramic view of Sydney from the 1873 clocktower