Convict architect Francis Greenway was convinced of the importance of architecture to the development of early Sydney. He wrote to Governor Macquarie on 27 July 1814, arguing that architecture was a 'most useful art to Society which adds to the Comforts of the Colony as well as to the dignity of the Mother Country'.
Changing styles and tastes in architecture reflect the changes in society. As Sydney was being more prosperous in the 1830s, the taste for classical villas came into vogue and Sydney's wealthy citizens hired architects such as John Verge to design large elaborate homes.
A decade later, Edmund Blacket arrived in the colony, and revolutionised Sydney's public buildings, leaving a legacy of impressive sandstone architecture including St Andrew's Cathedral and the Great Hall at Sydney University.
The architectural collections of the State Library of New South Wales contain more than 110 000 plans, dating from the early nineteenth century to the present day, providing us with a unique insight into the history of our built environment.
Sydney's fashionable villas of the 1830s - colonial regency
The increasing wealth of the colony in the 1830s was reflected in the construction of Regency style villas, built for well-to-do pastoralists, civil servants and merchants.
John Verge was Sydney's most prominent and fashionable architect of the 1830s. He gained a clientele of influential citizens including John Macarthur, William Charles Wentworth and Colonial Secretary Alexander Macleay. Some of his finest designs survive for the enjoyment of Sydneysiders and visitors today - such as Elizabeth Bay House, Tusculum and Rockwall at Potts Point, and Camden Park on the Macarthur Estate.