Encompassing the suburbs of Balmain, Balmain East, Birchgrove and Rozelle, the Balmain Peninsula is well-known for its stunning historic architecture and streetscapes. Today, we take a look at three of the Balmain Peninsula’s most treasured examples of its early architecture.
A bit of Balmain architectural history
The majority of homes in the Balmain area were constructed in the Victorian era to house workers from the harbour, waterfront shipyards and factories. At this time the predominant property style consisted of modest single-fronted, attached cottages, like semis and terraces or double-fronted weatherboard cottages which offered residents a bit more space.
In recent decades, the Balmain Peninsula has undergone major gentrification with modern apartment developments and residential conversions replacing the industrial factories and warehouses of bygone eras.
The Balmain Peninsula lies within a Heritage Conservation Area and whilst it’s very common to hear complaints about the tough development application process, when you walk the streets of Balmain it’s easy to see that it’s been a very successful strategy. It’s the retained heritage character that makes the area what it is today.
In among the rows of Victorian terrace houses and cottages lie some treasured examples of Balmain’s earliest architecture from the 1840s and 1850s. Here’s a look at our top three historic buildings in Balmain:
Clontarf Cottage – Colonial simplicity
Built in 1844, Clontarf Cottage is a prime example of the simplicity of homes in Balmain’s early colonial days. During this time, building materials and skilled artisans were in short supply, so the homes took inspiration from the understated look of Greek and Roman architecture. The architectural appeal of the building lies in its symmetry and proportion. No longer used as a residence, Clontarf Cottage has housed live theatrical productions in Sydney since the 1970s.
Balmoral House – Victorian Georgian extravagance
Image source: Balmain & Glebe Heritage on Flickr
Balmoral House is a stunning Victorian Georgian villa. Expensive stones were used to craft the walls and the elegant, 12-paned windows incorporate delicate ornamentation. The architectural style of this home is still rather simple and proportional, but it offers more opulence than colonial homes. The home has been sympathetically restored, renovated and extended and its gardens are among Balmain’s finest, however it hasn’t lost any of its character and it offers an extraordinary look into the area’s history.
Ewenton House – Combining architectural styles
Image source: Balmain resident, Suzie Stevens.
Ewenton House is unique in that it was built in stages, resulting in a mix of architectural styles. The initial structure was built in 1854 as a single-storey house with a basement. In 1856, a new owner added an elaborate portico and a second storey. Then, in 1872, a new wing was added to the home, encompassing three storeys. After falling into disrepair in the 1950s and surviving a fire in the 1980s, the house has since been restored and is still used as a residence today.
Because Balmain is a heritage conservation area, architects are faced with a unique challenge. While they must respect and retain the original fabric of the houses, at the same time they want to add space and make homes functional for a modern family. The results of this challenge mean Balmain offers the best of both worlds, with heritage flavour, contemporary luxury and unmatched lifestyle – right on the doorstep of Sydney CBD.
We are blessed to be able to sell some truly amazing homes and with a finite level of supply and consistently strong demand there’s no better place in Sydney to live or invest. So, if you are thinking of buying or selling in the Balmain area, do not hesitate to call on my team and me for home expert local advice.