Tuesday, 11 August 2009

Juniper Hall

From the National Trust website:

"Juniper Hall is a fine example of Colonial Georgian architecture and for a period, home to the iconic gin distiller, Robert Cooper. It is believed to be the oldest surviving mansion from Macquarie’s days to be found in Sydney. The National Trust was able to acquire the property in 1984 through a government pledge and corporate sponsorship towards the cost of purchase and restoration.

The construction of Juniper Hall was the result of a promise by ex-convict Robert Cooper to his third wife (and bearer of a further fourteen children) Sarah Cooper to build his newly wed “the finest house in Sydney”. A grant of 100 acres of land atop a windswept hill in Sydney’s Paddington area was given to Robert Cooper in partnership with two others, James Underwood and Francis Forbes. The London publican and his associates officially applied for planning of The Sydney Distillery in 1822. The land was subdivided between the distillery and three mansions.

Juniper Hall was built under the supervision of Cooper; he named the house presumably in relation to the juniper berry’s use as a key ingredient in the manufacture of gin.

‘Big Cooper’ as he was affectionately known had ten children from two previous marriages. Thus, domestic pressures ensured the house would be a large family residence. It encompasses a typical Georgian style with rooms planned symmetrically around a central hallway. Robert and Sarah later added two smaller properties within the grounds, one of which served as their retirement home. When money ran dry from the extravagances of their 24 children the family leased Juniper Hall to Attorney-General John Kinchela who re-named Juniper Hall, Ormond House.

In 1852 the property was leased to the Society for the Relief of Destitute Children, in part to serve appropriately as an orphanage. By 1885 the government had purchased the property and by 1892 extensive work was undertaken which enlarged the house considerably and altered existing architectural features.

In 1924 Joseph Reuben Gardiner purchased Ormond House. A public outcry prevented Gardiner from demolishing the house to increase his valuable real-estate on site but failed to prevent the building of a row of shops in the garden facing Oxford Street. These were later removed by the National Trust and the property is currently leased to an antiques dealer."


  1. Quite interesting. I often wondered about the history of this fine building on Oxford Street.
    Sydney - City and Suburbs

  2. Its a beautiful building. So its an antiques dealer now. Didn't it use to be a museum at one stage - Museum of Childhood?

  3. Antiques dealer makes it a smidge exclusive for mine. This entire intersection: Juniper, Hanging Gardens, town hall and old Telegrah office could be the centre point of Paddo if Oxford street could be blocked off.

    They did it in BJ ...

  4. A lovely building Sally. I'm pleased the Naational Trust (of which I'm a member) was able to acquire it. The old, fine buildings should be kept and it's sad to see so many of them go under the developer's hammer.

    And "Big Cooper" had 24 children..hmm I wonder which rooms were theirs.

  5. I have visited Paddo many times in the past and have never seen nor heard mentioned Juniper Hall. I wonder why. It must have been started some time after 1822!

    Do you know what material Juniper Hall was built? Are there any other colonial era buildings surrounding it?

    Art and Architecture, mainly

  6. Sally thought you might be interested in this media release from Clover ... http://www.sydneymedia.com.au/html/3953-paddington-reservoir-gardens-and-sustainable-sydney-2030-plan-win-prestigious-design-awards.asp