This was the old church of St Stephens built on the site now occupied by the 1988 extension of the State Library of New South Wales. Commonly referred to as the 'Iron Church' it was an early example of large-scale prefabricated ironwork and had been shipped from Scotland and erected on Macquarie Street in 1855.
The Free Presbyterian Church was organised in Sydney in 1849. Their church in Pitt Street became too small and they purchased land for a new church in Macquarie Street for £2060. Due to the shortage of skilled labour in Sydney caused by large numbers of workers who had left for the gold fields they decided to send to Glasgow for a prefabricated iron church large enough to seat 800 people.
The Iron Church was one of a pair completed by Roberston and Lister, of Glasgow in 1854 and shipped to Australia. They were similar in size and general appearance, except the one bound for Macquarie Street had two small spires on each side while the one shipped to Sandridge in Port Melbourne had one spire springing from the centre of the pediment. The Melbourne church, erected in 1854, was destroyed in a gale on 23 September 1908.
The chief features of the churches were their arcades of ornamental columns on arches. Each church was 22 metres in length and 14 metres wide while the interior was lit by a series of circular-headed windows, each six metres in length. At the back, there were two large stained-glass windows. The prefabricated façade was not the only iron, the crown of the arched ceiling was iron with perforated gratings for ventilation and the external roof was corrugated iron.
By 1875 the Iron Church had become too small for the congregation and they built another church, in Phillip Street. After the congregation vacated the building it was used as a clothing factory, before being fumigated and repurposed as a branch of the Free Public Library in 1881. In 1874 the Free Public Library wanted to extend their services to include a lending library but the Library building on the corner of Bent Street was not large enough to hold both a reference library and a lending library.