View of interior of room including fire place at the Georgian Gentleman's Townhouse.

Georgian Gentleman's Townhouse, interior. Photo courtesy Pamela Amores for Sydney Living Museums

Georgian Gentlemanʼs Townhouse c1841–43

Focus Tour - Saturday 2 November

Dawes Point




2018 Australian Institute of Architects - NSW Architecture Awards Commendation for Conservation

2018 Master Builders Association - NSW Excellence in Housing Award for Restoration (Open Category)

The conservation of this grand Georgian townhouse, situated in a prime harbourside location, represents years of painstaking renewal and adaptation into a contemporary home. Today, the Emmett Residence is steeped in history and graced with a wealth of refined original features and rare Greek Revival influences.

Built in Dawes Point around 1841–43, the house was depicted in a 1916 drawing (Doorways in Lower Fort Street) for inclusion in a tribute to landmark colonial buildings by architect and author William Hardy Wilson. Just over 100 years after Hardy Wilson’s detailed drawing of its elegant facade (evocatively titled Sophocles), the Emmett Residence is a part of early colonial Sydney being rediscovered in 2019.

Before the house was built, its site was part of the city’s speculative real estate boom of the 1830s, driven by builders, bankers and merchants. The land was owned by emancipist Samuel Lyons, who was also a canny investor. He sold the land in the 1840s and it was soon bought by William Wallis – a respected builder and undertaker, who owned substantial commercial premises on Elizabeth Street.

Wallis built the grand residence using Georgian pattern books for ‘London First Class rated’ houses, and it would be held in his family as a desirable investment for decades to come. During the 1850s and 1860s Australia’s eminent suffragette and educator, Maybanke Anderson, who is widely regarded as securing the vote for women in Australia, and her brother, the distinguished maritime engineer, Norman Selfe for whom the suburb of Normanhurst is named, lived there. Little changed throughout its 20th Century 'boarding house' period, until the current owner instigated a thorough conservation in 2012-18, with heritage architects Orwell + Peter Phillips and restoration builder François Crespel, Plâtre & Deco.

Today, for the first time in its 175-year history, the Emmett Residence is a home for its owners, their family life and collections, and a unique and celebrated ‘TARDIS’.

Tour experience

Conservation expert François Crespel owner of Plâtre & Deco, award winning company specialising in heritage house restoration, will discuss significant features of the house that he worked on, including the 2018 TARDIS style link between the main house and the original servants’ work and sleeping quarters.


François Crespel (Plâtre & Deco).

Key information

Session duration

45 mins


This tour has a capacity of 20 people per session.

Visitor requirements

Please arrive 10 minutes before the tour is due to start. Once tour has begun it cannot be joined. If you miss your tour time, there will be no refunds.

This is a private home, please be respectful.

Storage is limited; please bring only essential items with you. Sydney Living Museums bears no responsibility for items lost or stolen.

to know

  • Photography restricted
    No interior photographs permitted


The Georgian Gentleman’s Townhouse's involvement in Sydney Open has been made possible by Dominic Emmett.