Sydney’s central business district once contained a great many rows of substantial terraces, many of three or more stories. Many of them were mixed use. Today the landscape is far different but fortunately this row, known simply as “Young Street Terraces” has survived being one of few reminders of the Victorian boom era in the heart of town. The terrace has almost always been a government building, occupying the site of what was originally government house. Perhaps this is the reason why it stands on land around it is now occupied by skyscrapers. In 1851, the site was subdivided and in 1874 Joseph Paul Walker erected the terraces as offices leasing them to government departments.1
The triple storey row of four with sandstone basement was designed in the style of the emerging terrace vernacular. Though it has some of the flourishes of the style, it is quite plain in execution, reflecting its use. With sandstone basement has a regency styled parapet, chimneys and upper storey embellished with a plain cornice, brackets and lintels. In contrast is the iron lace decorations of balustrades and balconies. The projecting double storey verandah and stairs is decorated with cast iron balustrades and subtle corbels on the party walls. The ground floor has arched windows and doorways, the windows with projecting ledges.
In 1937, the terrace was converted for accomodation purposes by the Sydney Hospital and the rear was a carpark in the 1960s. The terraces were restored as part of the Museum of Sydney in 1982, the rear became a public plaza and the adjacent site was developed from 1990 as Governor Phillip Tower by Melbourne architects Denton Corker Marshall. By the late 1990s, the terrace row had again become government offices.2