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Mudgee Post Office, 80 Market St, Mudgee, NSW, Australia

Photographs None
List Commonwealth Heritage List
Class Historic
Legal Status Listed place (08/11/2011)
Place ID 105498
Place File No 1/03/205/0004
Summary Statement of Significance
The Mudgee Post Office was established on this site in c. 1861.  The establishment of post and telegraph services relates to the Gold Rush boom period within the district and the development of the Mudgee township during the latter half of the nineteenth century.  The post office is regarded as one of the first major country post offices built in NSW.  It is also a comparatively rare NSW post office which is still operating with a component, the original 1862 Telegraph Office, which precedes James Barnet’s designs, being documented under Alexander Dawson’s aegis a year before Barnet effectively succeeded him (Criterion a, Criterion b).  Typologically Mudgee Post Office incorporates aspects of first, third and final generation post office typology through alterations, additions and modifications.  The post office layout and internal planning is therefore the result of successive modifications from the initial work of Public Works architects Dawson (1861), then James Barnet (1875) and finally Vernon (1902).  This has impacted on a coherent understanding of the building’s workings.  Stylistically, the 1902 remodelling of the Mudgee Post Office resulted in a Federation Academic Classical civic building, in arcaded Palladian style featuring a colonnaded front arcade between end pavilions, symmetrically disposed, and a dominant central clock tower feature without a clock.  Architecturally, while three government architects (Dawson, 1861; Barnet, 1875; Vernon 1902) appear to each have contributed considerably to the main plan form and function of this building, the overall external visual effect is that of a confident and impressive Vernon building, incorporating civic functions of street front accessible offices, loggia meeting space, and clock tower feature to draw attention as a landmark.  The dominance of the Greek Temple in the façade, a vestige of earlier temple-fronted post offices and institutional buildings, has been noted.  The building frontage also owes its appearance to a consciously ‘mid Victorian’ completion by Vernon in 1902, the year after Queen Victoria’s death.  Chronologically the arcaded loggia and temple front come long after their appearance in a succession of earlier Barnet designs.  The placement of the loggia in antis flanked by pavilions with rusticated corner piers was also a hallmark of earlier Barnet frontages Criterion d).  The 1902 frontage of Mudgee Post Office has aesthetic significance, and streetscape impact, deriving from its Federation Academic Classical styling with a prominent portico and colonnade surmounted by a pediment and clock tower (without a clock mechanism or faces) and flanked by pavilions.  Whilst a low scale building, it is a prominent building which contributes to a streetscape largely composed of early Government and commercial buildings associated with the development of Mudgee following the Gold Rush boom in the region of the mid-nineteenth century (Criterion e).
The curtilage includes the title block/allotment of the property.
The significant components of Mudgee Post Office include the main postal building comprising fabric dating from 1861 through to 1902, with the colonnade and clocktower to the Market Street façade dating from the later works.
Official Values
Criterion A Processes
The Mudgee Post Office was established on this site in c. 1861.  The establishment of post and telegraph services relates to the Gold Rush boom period within the district and the development of the Mudgee township during the latter half of the nineteenth century.  The post office is regarded as one of the first major country post offices built in NSW.  It is also a comparatively rare NSW post office which is still operating with a component, the original 1862 Telegraph Office, which precedes James Barnet’s designs, being documented under Alexander Dawson’s aegis a year before Barnet effectively succeeded him. 
The significant components of Mudgee Post Office include the main postal building comprising fabric dating from 1861 through to 1902, with the colonnade and clocktower to the Market Street façade dating from the later works.
 
Criterion B Rarity
Mudgee is a comparatively rare still operating post office in NSW due to its retention of the original 1862 Telegraph Office within the building, which predates James Barnet’s lengthy involvement in NSW post office design. 
Criterion D Characteristic values
Mudgee Post Office is an example of:
Post office and telegraph office with quarters (second generation typology 1870-1929)
Academic Classical public building, in arcaded Palladian style. 
NSW Colonial Architect's Office under Alexander Dawson (Post and Telegraph Office combined, 1861), James Barnet (new Post Office, adjacent, 1875) Walter Liberty Vernon (alts, colonnade and tower, 1902)
Typologically Mudgee Post Office incorporates aspects of first, third and final generation post office typology through alterations, additions and modifications.  The post office layout and internal planning is therefore the result of successive modifications from the initial work of Public Works architects Dawson (1861), then James Barnet (1875) and finally Vernon (1902).  This has impacted on a coherent understanding of the building’s workings.
Stylistically, the 1902 remodelling of the Mudgee Post Office resulted in a Federation Academic Classical civic building, in arcaded Palladian style featuring a colonnaded front arcade between end pavilions, symmetrically disposed, and a dominant central clock tower feature without a clock.  Architecturally, while three government architects (Dawson, 1861; Barnet, 1875; Vernon 1902) appear to each have contributed considerably to the main plan form and function of this building, the overall external visual effect is that of a confident and impressive Vernon building, incorporating civic functions of street front accessible offices, loggia meeting space, and clock tower feature to draw attention as a landmark.  The dominance of the Greek Temple in the façade, a vestige of earlier temple-fronted post offices and institutional buildings, has been noted.  The building frontage also owes its appearance to a consciously ‘mid Victorian’ completion by Vernon in 1902, the year after Queen Victoria’s death.  Chronologically the arcaded loggia and temple front come long after their appearance in a succession of earlier Barnet designs.  The placement of the loggia in antis flanked by pavilions with rusticated corner piers was also a hallmark of earlier Barnet frontages.
Criterion E Aesthetic characteristics
The 1902 frontage of Mudgee Post Office has aesthetic significance, and streetscape impact, deriving from its Federation Academic Classical styling with a prominent portico and colonnade surmounted by a pediment and clock tower (without a clock mechanism or faces) and flanked by pavilions.  Whilst a low scale building, it is a prominent building which contributes to a streetscape largely composed of early Government and commercial buildings associated with the development of Mudgee following the Gold Rush boom in the region of the mid-nineteenth century. 
Description
Single storey stuccoed brick symmetrical composition in late Victorian Italianate manner. Arched collonade is flanked by single bays, central three bays having a pedimented parapet surmounted by a small bell tower with fleche. Facade generally topped by balustraded parapet.
 
The ‘original’ building is taken in this case to mean the entire fabric from 1861 to 1902.  Several architects worked on this and the changing assessments of their contributions are outlined after the basic description.  The building combines Grecian referencing, in the Ionic portico, with Renaissance and Roman allusions in the nine-arched colonnade and the loggia space immediately behind it.  The temple-portico is, indeed, superimposed over this loggia space.  This later treatment evokes Dawson’s early Victorian milieu.  The actual Dawson fabric appears to be the former telegraph office, now buried within the current building.  Evidence of the earlier structure can be seen in the arched brick hallway entry beside the Mail Contractors Room: it appears to be overlapped by, and so predates the adjoining rear verandah brick wall.  The final Post Office chambers were added in Barnet’s period as Government architect (c. 1875-80), and there were further alterations in 1886.  However much of the present external appearance is due to a radical extension of the design by Walter Vernon in 1902.
The Market Street frontage is basically an arcade in antis between two pavilions with single aediculed windows in each and with rusticated quoins at their corners.  These aedicules comprise a plain dressed border round each window, with a deep frieze and extruded brackets supporting the cornices and two small brackets below each of the sills.  This is carried around the east and west returns.
There are nine arches: the six flankers spring from quasi-Doric columns, round but untapered.  The three central arches are coupled to a set of Ionic half-columns with fluting and entasis, and these mark out the fusion of the arcade with the portico.  The loggia is entered by a stylobate running up through a set of low pedestals supporting each column, as at Maitland (1880).  The post and telegraph office sign runs as a subordinate frieze through and behind the Ionic half-column set, and the entablature, carrying the name mudgee, runs through the portico and continues the length of the colonnade and pavilions, running along the sides as well.  The upper portico level comprises a pediment and solid parapet behind that.  This parapet is extended across the colonnade and pavilions with a balustrade, interspersed with forward-projecting pier tops over the rusticated quoining at the pavilion corners.  The tower is basically an enlarged lantern of a type frequently encountered in both Vernon’s NSW designs and the contemporary work of Queenslanders such as Pye, Murdoch and Dods.  It has space left for clock faces on at least three sides, though the clock mechanism and faces have never been installed. 
The side elevations are simply treated with entablatures running around uninterrupted from the Market Street frontage.  Rusticated piers separate three quarters of each side elevation from the single depth of the front pavilions.  These have solid parapets rather than balustrades, and the windows on the east side have strut-braced sun canopies: it is not clear when these were installed.  Behind these the windows have aedicules matching those on the Market Street frontage, and the two loading doors have similar cornices.  A ramp and platform have been built up to the loading doors at a later date.
Other alterations after 1902 include a pedestrian access ramp, added in 1991-2; a platform and ramp on west elevation, probably 1960s-70s.  A revised PO box area in 1990; refurbishment of retail area to 1980s Australia Post standards; progressive refurbishments of lunch and amenities rooms.  The quarters was later converted to storage areas and amenities rooms and new additions to the rear – new loading room and loading dock with many small alterations including new polycarbonate skillion roof in 1999. 
Internally the building fabric indicates many alterations and additions but the pre 1902 structure is still visible in face brick walls and unaltered timber framed double hung windows.
History
The Mudgee Post Office occupied a building at the rear of the Mudgee Telegraph Office from the 1860s until 1875.  The establishment of post and telegraph services relates to the Gold Rush boom period within the district and the development of the Mudgee township during the latter half of the nineteenth century. 
A separate post office building was constructed adjacent to the telegraph office and residence, which had been designed by colonial architect, Alexander Dawson, in 1861.  Minor alterations occurred in 1886, but in 1902 a more significant remodelling of the post office was undertaken.  This included the construction of a colonnade and clock tower to the Market Street facade, which appears to have been the work of WL Vernon.  Efforts to install a clock in the tower have not been successful. 
 
NSW Colonial Architect's Office under Alexander Dawson (Post and Telegraph Office combined, 1861), James Barnet (New Post Office, adjacent, 1875) Walter Liberty Vernon (alts, colonnade and tower, 1902)
Condition and Integrity
Generally good condition given phases of construction.  The 1902 form is basically intact, and visible from the two street frontages, and on the west, from the entry driveway to the Telstra building behind.  The main altered elevation externally is the rear view which is generally inaccessible and so has only marginal impact on the building and its aesthetic significance.
 
1875 (post office section), 1886 (alterations), 1902 (addition of colonnade and clock tower and remodelling).
Date unknown: various alterations to public space including various positions to counters, lighting, carpet and shelving.
1990 New private box bays and other generally minor alterations.
1991-92 New ramp at the front and altered front door.
1997 Reconstruction of the retail shop at the front (public space) of the post office.
1999 New additions to the rear – new loading room and loading dock with numerous minor alterations and a new polycarbonate skillion roof.
2000-2005 An original brick well was uncovered and recovered during Telstra paving works.
Location
80 Market Street, corner Perry Street, Mudgee, comprising the whole of Lot 11 DP786616.
Bibliography
GS Warmington and AC Ward et al., Australia Post Survey of Historic Properties in New South Wales, Volume 1, 1990; The Heritage of Australia, Melbourne: Macmillan, 1981; Hughes Trueman Ludlow Consultants, Mudgee Heritage Study Building Inventory, 1985; Graham Jahn, Sydney Architecture, Sydney, 1997; Commonwealth Heritage List, ID 105498; Register of the National Estate, ID 483 & 484; NSW State Heritage Register, SHR 01314; Savills, APPD Property Valuation Report, June 2005

Report Produced  Fri Sep 19 10:25:37 2014