About The Glover Cottages
The Glover Cottages are National Trust classified and form part of an historic group of buildings which includes the National Trust Centre, the Agar Steps and the reconstructed Richmond Villa.
Thomas Glover, the builder of the Cottages, arrived in the colony in 1812 as a free settler stonemason. He worked on government buildings including South Head Lighthouse, the Hyde Park Barracks and the Church of St. James and, in consequence, received from Governor Macquarie a land grant of 70 acres on the shores of Cockle Bay, now Darling Harbour. On this grant, between 1820 and 1823, he erected some cottages of which the existing pair survives. They are a unique part of our heritage as they are the first attached houses built in the colony and were the seed from which developed all Australian terrace houses.
When Kent Street was lowered, Thomas Glover’s widow made a gift of land for the purpose of leaving the cottages as if stranded on the top of a solid sandstone cutting and they became known as the “Ark”. For many years one of the Cottages was occupied by the Glover family. Subsequently they passed to the ownership of the Minister of Education and later to the Minister for Public Works and Ports.
This is the earliest pair of attached terrace houses surviving in Australia. They are constructed of coursed random sandstone with dressed reveals and a simple hipped roof. They were restored between 1978 – 1980 as part of a programme of restoration of significant buildings on and adjacent to Observatory Hill. The work of reconstruction, which renewed the shingled roof, also reproduced many of the features of the building as originally constructed. The cottages were two storeys but were opened up to provide an office-reception and a library-committee room. The upper floor in each cottage has been cut back to provide a mezzanine working area. In 2008 the roof was reconstructed from Australian red mahogany shakes from the NSW national forest.
The furniture is later in age than the cottages, being mid-Victorian. The library table was a bar table in one of the courts in Hyde Park Barracks building and the bookcase was formerly in a Judge’s chambers. These cedar pieces are fine examples of early Australian craftsmanship and include the large desk and cedar chairs. The Biedermeier-style chairs in the library date from the 1830’s.
Additional premises which include a meeting room and other facilities were constructed by the Department of Public Works for the present occupants, the Australian Institute of International Affairs, New South Wales Branch, under a leasehold interest.
2 October 2008