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17 Oct 2018

Domain Lodge to reopen for Sydneysiders’ enjoyment

Most visitors to the Royal Botanic Garden Sydney, the Domain and the Art Gallery of NSW quickly bypass the small sandstone lodge tucked at the entrance of Art Gallery Road.

Known as the Domain Lodge and Depot, this historically significant building has laid dormant for many years – but plans are under way to reopen the space to the community and protect it for future generations to come.

Domain Lodge is one of several architectural buildings of cultural and heritage significance built in the 1800s at the Royal Botanic Garden Sydney and the Domain that are being brought back to life for public enjoyment.

The Gatekeeper’s Lodge

The Domain Lodge, found at the St Mary’s Gate to Art Gallery Road, is possibly the oldest continually used residence in this part of Sydney.

Designed as a gatehouse by Mortimer Lewis and built around 1835, it is significant as an example of the gatehouse/lodge style as well as for the relatively intact condition of the sandstone Colonial Gothic Picturesque style exterior.

Once constructed, the Lodge came under the control of several departments for the remaining century and a half. As the gatekeeper’s residence it’s occupants watched over the Domain and its visitors – in late 1856 the windows were smashed by an angry mob looking for the unfortunate Frenchman Pierre Maigre, who had sought refuge there after his failed (and much publicised) balloon ascent in the Domain.

Domain Lodge, or St. Mary’s Lodge as it was sometime known, was converted to office and horticultural depot space in 1991.

While the Lodge was renovated in 2001, it has sat vacant since 2016, underutilised and sadly in decline.

Welcoming a new generation

The Domain Lodge, like Lion Gate Lodge, Rathborne Lodge, and Victoria Lodge, will play a significant role in conserving the history and value of our Garden, Sydney and NSW well into the future.

Our vision is to restore, conserve and reinstate the Domain Lodge and Depot so that it remains a sustainable part of Sydney's fabric.
Here at the Garden we recognise that the value of heritage assets lies not only in their preservation, but in their adaptation. This allows and encourages local communities and visitors to connect with our urban history.

Our sites are significant to locals and visitors from around the world and our aim is to facilitate an adaptive reuse approach that can achieve economic, environmental and social objectives. This concept is similar in ways to the successful reuse of the Tramsheds in Glebe, and the Grounds of Alexandria – but on a much smaller scale.

Conservation, environmental sustainability, reduced expenditure, place revitalisation and community engagement are all important elements in the contemporary existence of our heritage spaces.

Have your say

As we reflect on the history of the Domain Lodge and Depot, it’s an appropriate time to think about the future and invite ideas from local stakeholders, friends and visitors to the Garden and the Domain.

A mixed-use space including hospitality offerings is being considered – what kind of café or restaurant would you like to see? Or what about an urban farm or cellar door?

Consultation on the Domain Lodge and Depot is being held in October and November 2018. For specific dates, open days, more information, and contact details to have your say, visit here.  

Category: History
Tags: history
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