Johnston Street is Annandale’s principal thoroughfare and north-south artery. With its ambitious 100 feet width and large Victorian villas, including the famous “witches’ houses” at its northern end, it defines the suburb’s character and distinguishes Annandale from its Inner West neighbours with their narrow, irregular streets and small allotments.
But while it is predominantly residential in character, industrial and other commercial buildings are scattered along its length, along with large religious and public buildings such as the old Council chambers and the Hunter-Baillie Memorial Church.
While now called “Brigade”, there is not much evidence that this building was ever the home of a fire brigade or ambulance service. Its function was industrial prior to its relatively recent conversion into apartments.
It was probably built around 1904 when FG Nichols Co. Ltd, manufacturing confectioners, established themselves at the site. They were one of many manufacturing confectioners operating in the suburb from the later 19th century until well into the 20th century. Mr Nichols lived next door to the factory on the site of the 1930’s apartments at No. 83.
By 1915, FG Nichols had moved on and the building was occupied by one of Annandale’s several box and case manufacturers, the Metropolitan Box Co. In about 1925 they were succeeded by the Gold Brick Preserving Co.
In about 1929 Taylor Bros1. jam makers moved from their original factory site in Booth St to No. 65 Johnston. Information about the firm can be found here. They had various premises in Annandale from the late 19th century and into the 20th century*. They also had operations in Western Australia. stay here was brief however and by 1935 paper merchants were at the site.
In about 1940 confectionery manufacture returned to the building when it was taken over by Snow Confectionery who remained here into the 1950’s. The history of Snows and pictures of the factory when operated by them can be found here.
*They also had operations in Western Australia. See also da Cruz, 1930s Annandale page 35.
While residential in appearance and current use, No. 3 is listed here as an example of the cluster of houses and apartment buildings in this stretch of Johnston Street near Albion Street that once housed most of the suburb’s medical practitioners. A number of doctors had rooms in this building from the 1920’s, including Albert C Burstal, physician and surgeon.
An early photograph of this portion of Johnston Street indicates that it was vacant as 1888. Accordingly, while Joseph Turner began to operate a fruit shop in this vicinity in 1884, the current building can more confidently be associated with Percy Speight who sold tobacco at this site from 1905. The building, along with Nos. 101 and 103, was then owned by Adam Lappan who is discussed below.
In 1915 Otto Zech moved from the Goodman Buildings on the corner of Johnston Street and Parramatta Road to take over the Speight’s tobacconists. By the early 1920’s Otto was operating a hairdresser’s (haircuts and tobacco being more or less symbiotic at that time).
Otto stayed at the site until the early 1930’s when G Gleeson took over the business. By 1940 it had become a mixed business but by 1945 it had joined the swelling ranks of Annandale’s lending libraries and was known as “The Cavalier Library”.
No. 101: The Colonnade
The Colonnade is one of Annandale’s most impressive and relatively intact 19th century commercial buildings. As its facade records, it was completed in 1894. Its history is tied to the Lappan family.
By the early 20th century Adam Lappan owned what are now Nos 99 to 103 Johnston Street. Lappan first arrived in the vicinity in about 1888 when he is recorded as residing at “Pambula” which may have been a little to the south of the site of The Colonnade. The directories indicate that soon after arriving he established a saddle and harness factory, possibly at No. 103 Johnston St (bearing in mind that The Colonnade was under construction by about 1893). The original factory was probably erected soon after an 1888 photograph of this portion of Johnston Street was taken as it shows the site to be vacant. The original factory may have been quite a humble affair and it was soon replaced by the buildings which can now be seen on the site.
The Colonnade was an ambitious project for a newly established business in a very young suburb. It housed the factory, the Lappan’s residence and a hall on the first floor. Known as “Lappan’s Hall” it soon became the temporary meeting place of the newly formed Annandale Council and was for many years the venue for many of the suburb’s political and civic functions*. It continued to be a venue for political and other meetings well into the early 20th century**.
The Lappan saddlery and harness factory continued to operate on the site for many years. By around 1900 the retail section of the building on the ground floor was dedicated to a drapery business with sales of saddles, harnesses and iron mongery occurring at No. 103. While Adam Lappan died in 1939, the Lappan family ran the drapery until the mid-1940’s. By 1945 it had been taken over by Miss I Meeks who operated here into the 1950’s***.
*Its role in the suburb’s political and civic life is described in da Cruz, 1920s Annandale page 12 and in da Cruz, Annandale’s Great War, pages 44-46.
**See for example https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/28141280.
***Wise suggests that the Cavalier Lending Library was situated at No. 101 in the early 1950’s. If so, it must have moved from next door at No. 99.
Nos. 103 and 103A
Adam Lappan built this store shortly after completing The Colonnade next door at No. 101. It seems to have been used as the retail outlet for the saddle and harness factory. As is noted above, Lappan died in 1939 and by 1945 EA Frith had taken over the store and the ironmonger’s business. By 1950, he was operating as a hardware dealer.
No. 105: North Annandale Hotel SE (corner of Booth Street)
While heavily modified in 1935 and having an Art Deco appearance, a hotel was originally constructed on this site in 1878, making it one of the earliest buildings in this part of Annandale.
No. 107 NE (corner of Booth Street)
The line of shops that stretch north from the north-east corner of Johnston Street date from the late 1800’s*. Thomas Noonan, who also owned the hotel across the road, owned Nos. 107 to 113 Johnston Street at this time and was responsible for constructing at least some of the shops that are now to be seen here. One bears his name.
No. 107, which stands on the corner, was completed in about 1898 and was initially occupied by Charles Schofield a butcher. Before he moved into No. 107, Charles had traded for a few years at premises just to the north of this site, probably at what is now No. 119 which was owned by his wife, along with Nos. 121 and 123. He may have moved up the road to the corner site while new premises were being built at No. 119-121. He would soon move back to that site.
After only about a year No. 107 had become a chemist’s shop and has remained so since that time. The first chemist was Herbert J Waring who dispensed from the premises until about 1910. For a period around the 1920’s a dentist also operated here, possibly on the first floor. HM Blackall took over the chemist’s shop in the early 1930’s and was still in occupation into the 1950’s.
*In the few years after 1900 Sands entries along this strip are a little haphazard with inconsistent numbering and tenants sometimes being listed out of correct order. The descriptions below are to some extent confirmed by the Rates Book.
No. 109: Noonan's Corner
Mr Noonan, the owner of this and adjacent lots, built “Noonan’s Corner” on Nos. 109 and 109 ½ in 1909. It is not clear why is was given that name as it does not stand on the corner and was built some years after the shop which does occupy the corner site to the south.
While the current building was built only in 1909, William Carless, fruiterer, operated at No. 109 from 1902. As has been noted above, Carless also ran a grocery in Collins Street.
M Brown, a fishmonger, also ran a shop on the site from 1906. Tates Property Agency was in residence here in 1907.
The first occupant of the new 1909 store was John F Crawford, one of Annandale’s many confectioners. The business was a success as a confectionery remained at the site into the 1950’s – perhaps the proximity to the cinema across the road contributed to that success. This is despite the fact that by 1925, the initial tenant, Mr Crawford, had moved across the road and set up a rival confectionery right beside the cinema a photo of which can be seen here.
Mrs Mary Moodie took over the confectioners in the mid 1920’s and was succeeded by J Forsythe in the 1930’s.
No. 109 1/2 (or 109A)
This store occupies part of Noonan’s Corner which, as we have seen, was built by Mr Noonan in 1909. It’s first tenant was William McKay a boot maker and it remained a boot and shore repair shop into the 1950’s. Albert Scott was a long-time proprietor and ran the business from around 1919 until the 1950’s.
Mr Noonan, who owned this and adjoining sites, may have built this shop in about 1903, some years after No. 107 but a few years before “Noonan’s Corner” next door at Nos. 109-109 ½. The timing is a little uncertain as No. 113, No. 111’s neighbour to the north and which has an identical appearance, seems to have been in place by about the turn of the century.
In any event, Archie H Steer was running his hairdressing business at the site by 1904. He remained there until the 1920’s. The store has been run as a hairdresser or barber to this day. Notable proprietors who succeeded Steer include Herbert Zech (who was presumably related to Otto Zech who ran a hairdressers and tobacconists at No. 109 Johnston Street from 1915 after moving north from the Goodman Building) and HC Lane who cut hair here in the 1940’s and 50’s.
As mentioned above, Mr Noonan probably built this and the adjoining store at No. 111 at around the turn of the 20th century. EA Kevin was operating a newsagency here in 1899. It has remained a newsagency ever since under a succession of proprietors.
The present facade of this shop appears to be relatively modern although the store may incorporate an earlier structure. A residence stood on the site until about 1907. A ham and beef shop was run on the site from that time until 1915. The Misses Orr established a millinery here in 1915. However, by 1925 the Ristuccia brothers were running their fruit shop at No. 115 and their business probably also incorporated No. 117.
By the mid 1930’s the fruit shop only occupied No. 117 and No. 115 was occupied by R Odgers a smallgoods dealer. He remained here into the 1950’s.
In 1907 John Palesy established a green grocery here. As mentioned above, for parts of the 1920’s and 30’s this site seems to have been incorporated in the Ristuccia Brothers fruit shop. By the late 1930’s their fruit shop was wholly housed in No. 107 and their store operated into the 1950’s.
Although now occupied by a single business, this large building sits on two lots and formerly housed two stores. By the 1890’s Mrs AH Schofield owned both lots, along with No. 123, and her husband ran a butchery here from 1896, initially in partnership with a Mr Fell. In fact several butchers had operated on or immediately adjacent to the site since 1890.
As noted above, in the late 1890’s, Schofield briefly moved his butchery to the corner of Booth Street at No. 107, possibly while a new building was constructed at Nos. 119-121. He was back at No. 119 by about 1900 and remained there until 1910 when his business was taken over by Ernest H Schofield, possibly his son. Thereafter No. 119 remained a butcher’s shop into the 1950’s with J Wilkinson in charge from the mid 1920’s into the 50’s.
The earliest occupant of No. 121 was Joseph Israel, a grocer from 1903. By 1907, James Menary had taken over the store and the grocery operated into the 1950’s. Charles Meeks ran it from 1925 and into the 50’s.
Barnett Bros., boot makers, established their business here in 1900. They continued to make and repair boots and shoes here until the mid 1940’s. The store was then taken over by Lawrence dry cleaners who remained here into the 1950’s.
This site was occupied by houses from the turn of the 20th century until the 1950’s. The present building probably dates from the 1960’s or 70’s.
This site is occupied by a residence with a wooden store front and awning later added on the street frontage. While the residence may be older, JC Brady was cutting hair here from 1902. He remained here until about 1920 when Alfred Lauder took over the business. Alfred ran the hairdressers into the 1950’s.
Like its neighbour at No. 223, this small dwelling with a shop front operated as a business from the early 1900’s. Both properties were owned by Mrs F Edwards at that time. The earliest reliable attribution is in 1908 when Thomas Freestone was trading here as a stationer. However, by 1910 William Bell, confectioner, was trading here. By 1915 Miss B Longley had taken over that business. By the mid 1920’s the shop had been converted into a grocery and it traded as a grocery or mixed business until about the end of the Second World War.
In 1907 EA Burton established a fruit shop here. By 1915 Walter Lorenz was operating a general store. LE Moody was running a grocer and confectioners here by 1925. It presumably competed with the grocery at No. 221 and seems to have gone out of business by 1930 when the property was listed only as a residence. However, from the early 1930’s the property was back in business as a fish shop under the control of WH Norton. The fish shop closed in the 1940’s and the premises may have reverted to a residence. However, commerce again returned in the late 1940’s when Mickan Bros. opened a furniture and second hand dealers here.
No. 233 (including 38 Rose Street at rear)
This property is now a set of modern apartments abutting the eastern section of Rose Street and the Winkworth stairs leading down from Johnston Street. At its rear the building plainly incorporates a former industrial structure which is visible from Rose Street.
The land along this section of Johnston Street, opposite the famous “witches houses”, continued to be owned by the suburb’s developers, Sydney Freehold Land Building & Investment Co Ltd, until well into the 20th century. It was vacant until 1928 when LM Nolan, established a builders and plumbers supplies business. This business seems to have operated here until about 1940 when the Harold Park Garage began to trade at the site. The garage operated into the 1950’s though, somewhat curiously, from 1945 it shared the site with Miss Gwen Leys, dancing teacher and later with Sherries, condiment manufacturers.
No. 279 SE Cnr The Crescent
Now the site of a TAFE, this large site adjacent to The Crescent was once occupied by a packing case and box factory which, over the years from 1900, traded under several names including “Union Box Co Factory”, “Union Box and Packing Case Co Ltd” and “Union Box and Timber Co”.
The building on the corner of The Crescent probably formed part of, or was ancillary to, the factory. Mr A Guthrie managed the factory for many years prior to the 1920’s.
The factory had an associated timber yard on the northern side of The Crescent. The factory appears to have ceased operation by about 1940.
Although there is no sign now – all traces having been obliterated by the goods line built in the 1920’s - in around 1910 James Herd ran refreshment rooms just to the north of the box factory and from about 1915 Thomas Kelly and several successors ran a newsagency on the same site, beside the rail bridge.
Nos. 2-12: The Goodman Buildings.
This is probably Annandale’s grandest and best known commercial building. It stands in a prominent position at the corner of Johnston Street and Parramatta Road and was built in stages by Mr Walter Goodman between 1890 and 1902. Its heritage significance and history are recorded on the Heritage NSW website*.
For many years Mr Goodman lived in an apartment on the 1st floor of the building.
The shops along the Johnston Street frontage were first occupied in about 1902 when the shop nearest Parramatta Road housed a fruit shop run by Thomas Tennant. The other shops along Johnston Street were soon tenanted.
Over the years those shops have housed many businesses including restaurants, fruit shops, estate agents, confectioners, florists, dentists and butchers. Notable tenants include:
Bentons estate agents who have occupied part of the site since around 1910
the Tempone family who ran several businesses here from the 1930’s and into the 50’s including fruit, sweets and smallgoods shops.
*It is stated here that the Annandale Street frontage was built first. If so, it is odd that there is no record of tenants along the Johnston Street frontage until 1902 as construction commenced in 1890.
Now a retirement facility, this modern building occupies the site of the Duntroon Private Hospital established in a large Victorian villa in about 1925 by Mrs McDonald and Mrs Kelly. A detailed description of the facility at the time of its sale in the 1950’s can be found here.
Now a hair salon, this building was constructed in about 1901 and was occupied from that time until the 1950’s by produce and fuel merchants. JF Smith founded the business in 1901.
House Nos. 124-126
This large site has been occupied by a service station since the 1960’s. It was once the site “The Annandale Royal” cinema and a small adjacent shop.
A picture show (as they were then known) was constructed here in 1912, replacing several earlier houses. It was an open air affair as was then quite common. The roofed cinema which remained on the site until its demolition in 1960, was completed in 1928. An engaging account of the cinema’s role in the social life of the suburb can be found in the Leichhardt Historical Journal*.
A shop stood to the north of the cinema and in 1925 JF Crawford, who had previously traded across the road, established a confectionery shop which can be seen in an early photo of the cinema which can be seen here.
The shop was later known as “Berry’s Sweets Shop”. A ladies hairdresser also had premises on the site from the 1930’s and into the 1950’s. During the 1940’s and 50’s it traded as “La Noisette Ladies Hairdresser”.
* M Quinn, The Cinemas of Annandale, LHJ Vol 5 page 15. See also Lawrence & Warne, Pictorial History: Balmain to Glebe at page 96. Both contain pictures of the cinema.
This small former factory building was built in about 1905 and was the home of J Waddington, boot maker who operated here until around 1915. Several boot and shoe makers and repairers followed. AJ Hopkins ran the business in the 1930’s and 1940’s. The directories do not indicate its use after the early 1940’s.
Nos. 236-240 Johnston Street is now occupied by a modern apartment building. The site, which extends through to Piper Lane appears to have remained vacant until well into the 20th century. It was not until around 1935 that the Austral Broom Company moved from their former home at No. 78A Taylor Street (see below) to a site fronting Piper Lane, probably at the rear of Nos. 236-240 Johnston Street.
By 1940 they had expanded and occupied the Johnston Street frontage. Their factory remained in operation into at least the 1950’s.
No. 248 SW Cnr Rose Street
The Phoenix Fibrous Works commenced operations on this corner site in 1918. Phoenix was one of several makers of fibrous plaster products for the building trade then operating in Annandale. The current building may post-date Phoenix’s period of occupation.
By the early 1930’s BW Electric Co., electrical engineers, had taken over the site. They remained there until about 1940 when Australian Textiles Pty Ltd established their weaving factory here. This locality seems to have become a bit a hub for weaving and allied industries. At around the same time Australian Textiles had other premises around the corner at 80 Rose Street and on a site just behind No. 248 Johnston Street, at 8 Piper Lane, Imperial Worsted Mills Ltd had their wool worsting factory.
Nos. 252-256 NW Cnr Rose Street
In the 1880’s this large site was owned by Sydney Freehold Land Building & Investment Co Ltd* which, lead by John Young, was principally responsible for the subdivision of Annandale.
Though many of the lots on the west side of Johnston Street north of Rose Street were used to develop the “witches’ houses” from the early 1880’s, the large lot on the corner of Rose St (approximately the location of Nos. 152 to 156) remained essentially vacant and was known as “John Young’s timber works”. As the name suggests, a timber mill and other activities associated with John Young’s construction business operated at the site during the 1880’s and into the 1890’s. Young’s wife acquired the lots during the 1890’s before they were sold off from around 1911 after Young’s death.
William J Henley, a builder acquired several of the lots and by 1915 and established a joinery works and builder’s yard. At this time he he also bought No. 258, “Claremont”, where he lived. It was demolished in 1968.
Henley continued to use the site at Nos. 252-256 for his building business and to live in Claremont until the 1930’s.
The Patent Blind Manufacturing Co (owned by Henley) established a factory on the site in around 1930. By 1940 several other businesses were also at the site: H Smith, timber merchants and Cement Treatments Pty Ltd. By 1945 Wire Products Ltd had joined H Smith at the site. By 1950 H Smith had transitioned to the supply of “toilet requisites” and continued to share the site with Wire Products.
The more recent history of the site, including its occupation in the 1950’s by Guest Keen & Nettlefolds, makers of engineering fasteners, and the establishment in the 1980 of St Basil’s Home which now occupies the site is told in AURA Volume 2.
*See Annandale Urban Research Association Journal 2 “The Witches Houses of Annandale” pp 52ff.
Nos. 276A and 276B NW Cnr Weynton Street
This site was vacant until the early 1920’s. The present building was probably constructed in about 1921 and its ground floor now houses two small shops. It commenced business - as a single larger store - as a grocery, probably under the proprietorship of Vincent Palesy.
From the 1930’s until about 1950 it remained a grocery or mixed business under various proprietors, including Miss IM Makins. By 1950 the store had been divided in two and 276a was occupied by Refrigeration Control Repairs and Monks Pty Ltd, sign writers occupied No. 276b.