Walking Tour of Wagga Wagga's Historic Buildings

Walking the Streets of Wagga Wagga’s Past
Take yourself on a fascinating tour of Wagga Wagga's historic buildings. Produced by the Wagga Wagga City Library.
Wagga Wagga was gazetted a village in 1849. The early town was on the northern side of the Wollundry Lagoon and it gradually spread to the south. Fitzmaurice Street was the commercial heart of the town until the late 1960s. The historic buildings we will look at today reflect the growth of the town and the fortunes of its people from the 1870s until the 1920s. All asterisked buildings are on the National Trust Register.
Cross Street
1. Workmen’s cottages, 15 & 17 Cross Street. These were probably built in the 1870s.
2. St Andrew’s Church and Hall. The church was built in 1869 in Gothic Revival style by local builders Macintosh and Hodson. The spire was built in 1915, as was the hall, and an extension in 1961. In 1888 women came here to work together – the Presbyterian ladies work meeting. They sold their plain and fancy articles as well as tea and coffee. In 1901 it was reported in the Advertiser that the St Andrew’s Literary Society met and a Mrs Copland read a paper on her recollections of reading the books of Charles Dickens.
Church Street
3. St John’s Church. The first church on this site was begun in 1850 and Wagga was declared a parish in 1855. The foundation stone was laid by Police Magistrate Henry Baylis, and the first services held in 1860. There was concern from the parishioners that this might not be the best site, being so close to the flood prone river, and the church did own some land in Baylis Street. The voting was close but when they demolished the old building and had a new one designed by Charles Nixon, it was built by Charles Hardy on the same site and was finished in 1876. The side aisles, vestibule and tower were added in 1911 and 1912. In 1964 the hall was built. The congregation appears to have been made up of strong willed folk. In the 1860s many Anglicans were debating the chanting of services. The choir asked permission to sing part of the liturgy and the Reverend Fox refused, so they went on strike and eventually he resigned. When the congregation became disappointed with the ministry of the Reverend Harpur they starved him out by refusing to pay the parish stipend funds until he resigned.
4. St Andrew’s Manse*. In the 1880s as Wagga’s population had greatly increased, the congregation, strongly influenced by the female members, elected to build a new manse. Local builder Charles Hardy put in a tender of 1025 pounds, which was accepted. The cornerstone was laid in 1890 by Mrs Henry Baylis, wife of the police magistrate. Under the cornerstone was placed a bottle containing copies of the local newspapers, church statistics and some contemporary coins. The manse was renovated in 1978 at a cost of $35,000.
5. St Michael’s Cathedral Presbytery* - The original presbytery was built around 1871 and was a one storey four roomed brick building that was then incorporated into the centre of the present building. The architect was WJ Monks and work was completed in 1902. The first Bishop of Wagga, Dr JW Dwyer, was appointed in 1918 and this building became the Bishop’s house.
Johnston Street
6. St Michael’s Cathedral* - large neo gothic sandstone cathedral built in two stages. The first in 1885-87 was when Father Patrick Dunne was parish priest and it was built as a parish church. Charles Hardy did the woodwork and carpentry. In 1918, when the bishop was appointed, St Michael’s became a cathedral. New work began in 1922 and the architect was WJ Monks and the builder was Charles Hardy & Co. It consists of a large nave, side aisles, porch, chancel, sacristy, chapel, gallery and tower. Roof framings are exposed timber internally and sheeted with slates externally. Walls are rock faced ashlar generally with dressed window and door surrounds and mullions. Internally the altars contain some finely crafted marble pieces and large stained glass windows in groups of three, giving a soft filtered light.
7. Department of Lands Building* Cnr Tarcutta & Johnston Streets. Possibly built before 1871. Originally, it would not have been painted.
8. Group of three office buildings*. The largest of the three was once the office of the Wagga Wagga Express, the first local newspaper. It then became the Kyeamba Shire Offices. It has retained its present form since the early 1880s.
Sturt Street
9. Riverine Club* Cnr Tarcutta and Sturt Streets - This building has been registered with the National Trust because it is a good example of a peculiarly British and male institution directly related to the grand clubs of the West End of London and closely resembling those built for the same class, with the same tastes throughout the British Empire. The original portion of this building was built in 1860 by McIntosh & Cruikshank as the first Public School in Wagga Wagga. It ceased to function as a school in 1872 when it moved to Gurwood Street. It was then a doctor’s rooms. The Riverine Club was formed in 1881 and was where the very wealthy gentlemen socialised. There were 53 gentlemen members at the foundation of the club. There was an entry fee of ten guineas with an annual subscription of 5 guineas for town members and three for country members. There was a suggestion book for members in the early days. In 1891 a complaint was made that Mr Lyne mutilated the Sydney Morning Herald in the reading room in order to wrap his tobacco in it. In 1909 someone suggested that “Our present telephone be presented to the museum as its unquestionable antiquity should make it an acquisition”. Extensions and alterations in the early 1930’s conceal the original façade. The upper floor contains rooms for accommodation; these were created to provide overnight accommodation for country members who needed to stay in town on business. Many internal fittings of the 1930s remain: joinery, light fittings, furniture. For a period during WWII the club became home to American Airforce officers. Ladies have been admitted as members since 1987!
10. Police Station Buildings. The two storey building, erected in 1927, is typical of government buildings of the time. It was built on the site of the old lock up and gaol and parts of the original gaol wall can be seen at the rear of the block. The earlier police station, from 1875, is a single storey, colonial building and the later additions from 1901 and 1918 can be seen in the variations in the brickwork, the chimneys and the ventilators.
Turn left into Fitzmaurice Street
Fitzmaurice Street
11. Court House* Cnr Fitzmaurice and Sturt Streets - The original court house was a slab building to the north in Fitzmaurice Street. After it floated away in the 1852/3 floods, the court house was moved to the present site. The present buildings were built by Charles Hardy from 1901-1903, having been designed by government architect, Walter Vernon. Its foundation stone was laid by the Hon. E.W. O’Sullivan Secretary for Works on 3/12/1900. Final cost of building in 1902 including the clock tower was $25 420.83 (in decimal currency). The first police magistrate appointed was Henry Baylis, in 1858. He came to Australia from Scotland, aged 5. In 1863 he was held up by bushranger, Dan Morgan. Along with some constables and the sub-inspector, he hunted Morgan for two days and was shot in the encounter. The bullet passed through his hand and shoulder before lodging in his belt. He kept it in a special case on his watch chain. It ended up in the museum but was, unfortunately, stolen.
12. Romanos Cnr Fitzmaurice and Sturt Streets. Built as the Commercial in 1857, it was one of the most substantial buildings in town. Lots of photos of Fitzmaurice Street are taken of the Commercial. In 1885 TS Bellair took over and it was called the Bellair Commercial. It was occupied by the RAAF during WWII and purchased by Azzalin Orlando Romano in 1945. He owned Romanos in Sydney and remodelled the Commercial and renamed it Romanos. He sold it in 1966 but it remains Romanos.
13. National Australia Bank* 53 – 55 Fitzmaurice Street. Built, by Charles Hardy, as the Commercial Bank in 1881. It was, and is, one of the finest buildings in town. Built in the Classic Revival style, it indicates the growing wealth and importance of the town.
14. Old Post Office Building*-.These are now part of the court buildings and were also built in Classic Revival style after the land was resumed from the Methodist church in 1885 for a new Post and Telegraph Office .
15. Old Union Bank Building* - Built around 1884 by Charles Hardy in an Italianate design, it hasn’t been greatly altered though there have been extensions to the rear and the first floor balcony has been enclosed.
16. Old Bank of New South Wales – built in the mid-1870s. The library has a fabulous collection of four photos taken of this corner over time.
Turn right into Johnston Street then right into Trail Street
Trail Street
17. Dorset Cottage, 14 Trail St. This building incorporates the original home of builder Charles Hardy. It was built around 1870 and was named after his birth place. His family lived here until the early 1900s and the building has been significantly altered over the years. After 1875 most of the major buildings in town were built by the firm. Charles Hardy moved to Australia from England in 1833 and moved to Wagga, with his wife Ellen, in 1861. He had very high standards, bringing tradesmen from England and supervising most of the building himself.
He was a progressive citizen and took a keen interest in local and state affairs. He was an alderman for the Wagga Wagga Municipal Council for many years and was Mayor from 1902 – 1903. His son, also Charles, joined his father in the business and carried it on after his father died. The Hardys made a lasting impact on our town that can still be seen today.
Cnrs Trail and Gurwood Streets
18. George’s Court, 52-54 Gurwood Street – Built about 1890 as a doctor’s residence and surgery and it remained so until around 1940. It became a girls’ hostel until 1970 when it was restored to professional rooms. This building was divided by a brick wall into two sections, one being for a residence,No.52 and the other for the surgery No.54.
19. 53 Gurwood Street. In the late 1800s there was a hospital called ‘The Bungalow”on this site. This house was designed by WJ Monks and built by Charles Hardy around 1900 for J Hawkins. It was later owned by Dr Walter Martin who was a very popular doctor. He was involved in lots of community activities and his daughter, Sheila, was Miss Australia in 1937. He ceased practicing in 1936.
Trail Street
20. 40 Trail Street – Also built for a Mr Jim Hawkins by C. Hardy & Co. Hawkins was determined that the house should not be flooded so the site was built up with many loads of soil.
21. 46 Trail Street – in 1868 Stephen Sullivan was employed as the first printer at the Wagga Wagga Advertiser. He jointly bought the paper in 1883 and probably built the house soon after. It has been used as work rooms for the newspaper since 1978.
22. Belmore Cnr Kincaid and Trail Streets – The printer had a lovely little cottage but the owner of the Advertiser, AG Jones, had Belmore. It was a prestigious building at the time and remains a striking example of a Victorian Gothic style villa. AG Jones bought and sold stations and speculated in town property and this house reflects his wealth. It was built around 1870 and was a private residence until 1893 when it became a grammar school. In the early 1900s it became a private hospital for 11 patients for medical, surgical and lying-in. In 1928 it was converted into flats and by the 1990s it had come down in the world and was decidedly seedy. It was sold in 2001 and is being restored to its original state.

Kincaid Street
23. Kincaid Street houses – Lovely old houses. 58 Kincaid was built around the 1870s and was Glenmore private hospital, licensed for 5 lying-in patients. 62/4 was Rossmoyne, licensed for 8 lying-in patients.
24. 75 Kincaid Street – Brick house on slate foundations thought to have been built before 1870. Early Victorian cottage built for surveyor, George Commins. Originally built with 3 rooms with a detached kitchen at the rear as was common practice to reduce the danger of fire.
Simmons Street
25. 45 Simmons Street. Built around 1911in Federation style.
26. Public School* Cnr Gurwood and Simmons Streets. The school moved from The Riverine Club to here in 1872. The site was known as the sandhill and was chosen to be away from the floods. In 1891 and 1900 nearby families took refuge here.
27. 20 Simmons Street – Built by local firm C. Hardy & Co. circa 1910 as a residence.
Johnston Street
28. Houses on Johnston Street. The northern side of the street was a very fashionable place to live from the 1870s until the first decades of the 20th century. 77 Johnson Street was designed by WJ Monks for his own residence. It has a mixture of Victorian and Federation features.
Go over Ivan Jack Bridge – there used to be a wooden footbridge linking Trail Street with Peter Street.
The Esplanade
29. “Tara” 16 The Esplanade – residence built by C. Hardy & Co. for the Mahon family in 1909. Hot water for the house was originally piped from the nearby brewery owned by the Mahon family and it is, apparently the first house to have piped hot water.
30. Old Federal Brewery* - There were three breweries in Wagga in the 1870s – a town with 17 hotels needs them. The Murrumbidgee Brewery was on this site but it burnt down in 1896 in suspicious circumstances. The owner, Martin Treacy, died and left the brewery to his daughter. Two weeks later his son was seen leaving the premises just before fire broke out. It is believed he lit if for insurance purposes but the inquest could not reach a decision about this. It was bought in 1899 by JJ Hogan, a cordial manufacturer who went into partnership with PJ Mahon to establish a brewery and cordial works. It was called the Federal Brewery in honour of the Federation of Australia.
31. Fire Station* The first fire brigade was established in 1880 in a two roomed wooden cottage in Baylis Street. In 1883 it moved to Morrow Street near the present Civic Theatre but that burnt down so they moved to what is now Sunflower House and then, in 1926, moved here. In 1930 it became the Soldiers’ Hall and during WWII it had one of the two air raid sirens that could be heard all over town.
Turn left into Thorne Street and left into Tompson Street
Tompson Street
32. Collins Park*. Originally called Newtown Park, established in 1889, it was renamed in 1936 after Edward Easter Collins who had been an alderman and the mayor for many years. His ashes lie beneath the plaque that dedicates the park to him. The park was known as the Bird Park as it had a collection of birds and native animals. These were moved to higher ground during one of the floods of the 1950s and in the 1960s they were moved to the Botanic Gardens.
There is a Boer War monument in the park. Around 100 Wagga men enlisted for this war and four dies. Two were killed in action and two dies of dysentery. Joseph and Silvio Palazzi, whose parents were Swiss migrants enlisted and in 1900 Joseph became the first local man to be killed. The stone memorial was commissioned by local citizens and unveiled in 1901. The cannon in the park is from a ship. It was cast in England in 1795. It was, reputedly, used against rioters at Lambing Flat in 1860-61 – the date on the plaque is incorrect.
33. Houses opposite Collins Park.
34. “Conjura” Cnr Fox and Thompson Sts* Built in 1906 by Charles Hardy for Alick Smith of Kyeamba Station as a town house. It was sold in 1928 to Mr W Walsh and in 1952 it became the Home of Compassion – the first nursing home in Wagga. It has been a private home again since 1974.
Turn left into Peter Street and right into Morrow Street
40. Old Fire Station Cnr Morrow and Peter Sts Now Sunflower House (since 2007?)
42. Victory Memorial Gardens. Laid down in 1928 as a memorial to those who served in the Great War, it was originally the police paddock.
43. Historic Council Chambers*. From 1875 – 1880 the site was used as the staging depot for Cobb and Co coaches. Then it was a municipal reserve until this building was built by Charles Hardy in 1881 and was the council chambers until 1999 when the Civic Centre was built and it became the Historic Council Chambers, part of the museum of the Riverina.

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