The Meeting Place

Rare and historic building earns reprieve

A building that embodies the history of Sydney’s Chinatown has been recommended for heritage listing by the City of Sydney.

The former Kwong War Chong & Company building at 82–84 Dixon Street, Haymarket is one of the earliest buildings owned and operated by Chinese people in Chinatown.

It was built in 1910 and operated for more than a century as a shop, store, dormitory and headquarters for merchants Phillip Lee Chun and the Kwong War Chong & Company.

Lord Mayor Clover Moore said the three-storey brick Edwardian-style building was an extremely rare and significant example of an early 20th century Chinese–Australian shop.

“Sydney’s Chinatown has become one of the most renowned in the world and we’re proposing to preserve one of its oldest and most important buildings,” the Lord Mayor said.

“The Dixon Street building has great significance for its strong social connections to the NSW Chinese community for more than a century.

“It played an important role in the importation and distribution of Chinese goods, supporting the Chinese migrant community in Sydney, providing dormitories and meeting places for Chinese market gardeners and maintaining links to Zhongshan county in southeast China.”

Historian Dr Lisa Murray said the location of Chinatown had shifted as Sydney grew and developed.

“Dixon Street is the heart of today’s Chinatown, but in the 1850s the Chinese community’s commercial and cultural centre was in the Rocks. By the 1880s it had shifted to Surry Hills and Haymarket to be around the market buildings, where cook shops and boarding houses met the needs of travelling market gardeners.

“Traders, merchants and providores followed in their footsteps. By the early 20th century, the city council built new produce markets close to Darling Harbour in Ultimo and Chinatown became focused around Dixon Street.

“That’s why they say the Chinese dragon of Sydney has its feet in the Rocks, its body in Haymarket and its head in Dixon Street.”

What buildings would you like to see heritage listed in your city?



I hope they clean and tidy it up before heritage listing

....  am unable to put up the photo when it was sold but it looks a disgrace.


I have no concerns about making a building heritage listed as long as the Heritage Council is prepared to pay for any extra costs associated with the upkeep. I had an experience some years ago with a heritage listed commercial building, with a residence attached, when mechanisation was introduced and that meant more power points and added electricity. A nice old lady on a walking stick turned up, had a quick look around and decided that an extension lead from the laundry was the answer.

That decision being made, the nice old lady demanded to see the residence, took a Stanley knife from her pocket and cut a triangle of wallpaper to see what was underneath. She decreed that all of the wallpaper in the residence was to be removed and the cedar panelling was to be brought back to the original state. All of this was to be at the expense of the owner. 

Thats the biggest issue with all heritage listing nonsense. Some faceless unknown makes an abitrary decision and the owner has to foot the bill to jump through their hoops.

If a building is to listed as historically valuable then restoration and upkeep should be funded by the public who are supposed to "enjoy " the benefits.

Can I understand why sometimes owners slip in and do naughty things with buildings(e.g. demolition)? Of course!

Never would I buy a listed building and be saddled with the nonsense like this!

I agree with Horace & Pedro

I like to see well preserved old buildings some I would be happy to live in but I would not buy a listed one because of the restrictions to altering it to my taste

Heritage council should crowd fund any changes I don't see why the owner should pay for changes he did not request

I love old buildings and like to see many of them preserved. However, I don't think I would fight to save the one in the picture, sorry,

When it comes to private homes that are listed in WA, owners often face restrictions on how a heritage listed home can be renovated. In some cases though, only the facade may need to be preserved.


If it was only the facade that would be fine because that is usually what attracts you to it in the first place