Historic Housing Styles in Strathfield

The oldest surviving dwellings in Strathfield were built in the late 1870s. Strathfield Local Government Area has a wide range of dwellings representative of each period of architectural development from the 1870s to the present. Strathfield’s development as a residential district commenced in the late 1870s and quickly became one of Sydney’s most prestigious suburbs.

By 1895, Strathfield was named in the book How to Know Sydney as one of the highest status areas of Sydney, along with Double Bay, Darling Point and Rose Bay, where large houses were surrounded by beautifully laid out grounds. Strathfield Council records in 1890 show that the total value of houses and land at Strathfield was £2011 per dwelling against the Sydney suburban average of £839. Strathfield’s early development coincided with the Victorian period of architecture.

Victorian Period c.1860s – c.1890s

This period coincides with the first wave of residential development in Strathfield. The Victorian period roughly covers the reign of Queen Victoria (1839-1901). The Victorian period was characterised by unprecedented affluence, success and economic prosperity, notably wealth generated by agriculture (wool and wheat) and the discovery of gold in Victoria and NSW. Profits generated from land speculation and investment, pastoral interests and manufacturing translated into eclectic architectural styles and interior decoration.

In Strathfield, the economic prosperity of early residents of Strathfield enabled construction of substantial homes and gardens, many described as mansions or ‘country-style’ estates. Many Victorian style mansions still exist in Strathfield today, though most situated on smaller allotments of land due to later subdivisions.

The Woodward Avenue Heritage Conservation Area, including parts of The Boulevarde and Albyn Road, features many examples of Victorian architecture of the late 1880s in Strathfield. There are also excellent examples of in streets such as Redmyre Road, Florence Street, Meredith Street, Abbotsford Road, Homebush Road and Albert Road.

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Federation Period c.1895-c.1915

As the 1890s economic depression of the eased by the mid-1890s, expressions of Australian nationalism gathered strength culminating in the proclamation of the Commonwealth of Australia on 1 January 1901 (Federation). With more favourable economic conditions, building activity recommenced. Development of Sydney suburbs was assisted by improvements in transport in Sydney, in particular the expansion of the Sydney tram system into the suburbs, which included a service at Enfield. Motor cars appeared on streets in the early 1900s but by the end of this period cars were increasingly mass produced and affordable. Cars gradually replaced the horse and buggy.

The idea of the ‘garden suburb’ – involving a house on a large piece of land – was the model for residential and suburban development in Sydney, and especially Strathfield. By the late 1890s, Australian architecture and building echoed trends in England, Europe and the United States. Architecture combined a variety of styles. Many of these styles are evident in Strathfield in designs of the Federation period.

Federation style housing is featured in many parts of Strathfield Municipality. Heritage conservation areas such as Redmyre Road and Churchill Avenue are primarily federation period.

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Interwar Period c.1915-c.1940

Strathfield experienced a significant housing and population boom in the 1920s. Post World War I, influences on Australian architecture were diverse as many Australians travelled overseas or were influenced by the rise of media and communications, notably films and magazines. Post war, many Australians desired stability of home ownership. The dominant residential housing style of this period in Strathfield was adapted California bungalows. This style was heavily influenced by American popular housing through exposure to American culture depicted in movies and magazines of the period. The original prototype was shipped by Richard Stanton from Pasedena Hills near Los Angeles in 1916 and reassembled at the Roseberry Estate in Sydney.

The Australian version of the style incorporated terracotta tiled and/or slate roofing with brick walls. It is typically identified by the use of low slung gabled roofs facing the street. A verandah is usually be found under one of the gables.

This period also featured styles like Old English/Tudor, Georgian Revival, Spanish Mission and “P&O” or Art Deco. Though not as common as the bungalow, there are examples of these designs throughout Strathfield Municipality.

1 comment on “Historic Housing Styles in Strathfield

  1. very good

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