History of Strathfield Council Chambers
Strathfield Council was incorporated in June 1885. In August 1886, the Council acquired land from James. R. Powell (owner of ‘Terry-Hi-Hi’ Homebush Rd and descendant of one of the original Liberty Plains land grantees Edward Powell) at the cost of £600 on the corner of Homebush and Redmyre Roads in order to build the Council Chambers.
Strathfield Council contacted four architects residing in the local area requesting they submit tenders to design the new Council Chambers and Town Clerk’s residence. The architects included Harry C. Kent, John Sulman, William Gratus Coward and Ferdinand Reuss.
Sulman, of the firm Sulman and Blackmann, was the successful tenderer. Sulman had recently arrived from England and was residing in ‘Glencoe’ Torrington Rd Strathfield, when he submitted the tender.
The Council Chambers were completed and opened in 1887.
The Council Chambers building has undergone many additions including first floor additions in 1921/22 designed by Harry Chambers Kent. Kent was once an Alderman of Strathfield Council (1903-1905) and lived at ‘Kelmswood'(later ‘Woodstock’) in Redmyre Rd Strathfield. Kent also designed Mount Royal (1887) and the Catholic Institute of Sydney Building (1891) in Albert Rd Strathfield.
The Strathfield Town Hall and supper room was also designed by Harry Chambers Kent and built by Kell & Rigby in 1923. Further office extensions were undertaken in 1969 and 1984 by the architectural firm of D T Morrow & Gordon, who also designed many other Strathfield Council Municipal buildings including the former Baby Health Centre in Redmyre Road and former High St Branch Library.
The Strathfield War Memorials for the two World Wars are located in the front of the Council Chambers. The World War I war memorial was dedicated on 11th October 1925 by the Governor of NSW, His Excellency the Governor, Admiral Sir Dudley de Clair, KCB, MVO. The memorials for World War I consist of Honour Roll tablets erected on a wall of the Council Chambers and a globe of the world erected on a granite pillar. Countries forming the British Empire were originally signified on the globe in gold lettering, which has now faded.
The World War II memorial was dedicated on 26 September 1953 by the Governor of NSW, His Excellency the Governor, Sir John Northcott. The memorials for World War II consist of a trachyte seat and a bronze plaque containing the names of all those residents of the Strathfield Municipality who died in the Second World War.
The Council Administration Building facing Homebush Road is a former house called. ‘Ravenswood’, which was acquired by Strathfield Council in 1961. ‘Ravenswood’ was built c.1903 for Mr Edgar and Mrs Susan Boston, though Edgar Boston died soon after occupation of the home in 1906. The plan of the house design is dated 28 July 1902 and signed by G H Dale, contractor. George H Dale was local builder from Meryla Street Burwood.
Mrs Boston continued to reside at ‘Ravenswood’ until her death in 1948. ‘Ravenswood’ was then purchased by Ernest and Elsie Melheuish, leathergoods manufacturers, who owned the property until 1961. Council records note that this property was used as a boarding house.
In 1961, Strathfield Council sold the former Town Clerk’s residence ‘Halloween’ (69 Redmyre Road) and acquired ‘Ravenswood’ to accommodate the administrative offices of the Council. Though the expansive front gardens have been well maintained, the rear and side gardens have been reduced with further extensions to the Council Chambers and building of a new office block in the late 1990’s at the rear of ‘Ravenswood’. Though the grounds surrounding ‘Ravenswood’ have been reduced, the building has been well maintained and most internal original features of the house are in-tact.
Ravenswood was converted to accommodate the Engineering Office, Parks Supervisor’s Office and Mayor’s Room. The back of the building was used as a residence for the Council caretaker, a position that has since been abolished. Despite the Council using ‘Ravenswood’ for over forty years as office accommodation, most of the original features of the home have been retained including fireplaces, pressed metal ceilings, leadlight doors and internal archways. ‘Ravenswood’ also provides accommodation for the offices of the Mayor and General Manager of Strathfield Council.
The Strathfield Council Chambers, Town Hall and ‘Ravenswood’ are heritage listed items on the Strathfield Local Environmental Plan. The Council premises are also located within the Redmyre Road Heritage Conservation Area.