Rare Chinatown building to be preserved

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A building that embodies the history of Sydney’s Chinatown has been recommended for heritage listing by the City of Sydney.

The former Kwong War Chong & Company building at 82–84 Dixon Street, Haymarket is one of the earliest buildings owned and operated by Chinese people in Chinatown.

It was built in 1910 and operated for more than a century as a shop, store, dormitory and headquarters for merchants Phillip Lee Chun and the Kwong War Chong & Company.

Lord Mayor Clover Moore said the three-storey brick Edwardian-style building was an extremely rare and significant example of an early 20th century Chinese–Australian shop.

“Sydney’s Chinatown has become one of the most renowned in the world and we’re proposing to preserve one of its oldest and most important buildings,” the Lord Mayor said.

“The Dixon Street building has great significance for its strong social connections to the NSW Chinese community for more than a century.

“It played an important role in the importation and distribution of Chinese goods, supporting the Chinese migrant community in Sydney, providing dormitories and meeting places for Chinese market gardeners and maintaining links to Zhongshan county in southeast China.”

The independent heritage assessment by Hector Abrahams Architect’s assessment concludes this building, interiors and contents satisfy all seven of the Heritage Council’s listing criteria for historical, associations, aesthetic, research, social, rarity and representative values at a local level.

The City’s historian Dr Lisa Murray said the location of Chinatown had shifted as Sydney grew and developed.

“Dixon Street is the heart of today’s Chinatown, but in the 1850s the Chinese community’s commercial and cultural centre was in the Rocks. By the 1880s it had shifted to Surry Hills and Haymarket to be around the market buildings, where cook shops and boarding houses met the needs of travelling market gardeners.

“Traders, merchants and providores followed in their footsteps. By the early 20th century, the city council built new produce markets close to Darling Harbour in Ultimo and Chinatown became focused around Dixon Street.

“That’s why they say the Chinese dragon of Sydney has its feet in the Rocks, its body in Haymarket and its head in Dixon Street.

Council has resolved to forward the planning proposal to the NSW Government for gateway determination, which if approved will allow the proposal to be placed on exhibition for public comment.

For media inquiries or images, contact Alex Cauchi. Phone 0467 803 815 or email acauchi@cityofsydney.nsw.gov.au

For interviews with Lord Mayor Clover Moore, contact Jack Begbie. Phone 0481 759 580 or email lordmayormedia@cityofsydney.nsw.gov.au

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