Exterior photograph of Registrar General's Building, Queens Square Sydney taken from the side.

Registrar General's Building. Photo (c) Lorinda Taylor for Sydney Living Museums

Registrar General’s Building

Sunday 3 November

Queens Square, 1 Prince Albert Road, Sydney

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Walter Liberty Vernon, NSW Government Architect

Additional architects

Peter Hall (1962, records wing)

A large, impressive early-20th-century civic building on a prominent corner site, the massive sandstone and trachyte exterior of the Registrar General’s building actually conceals a steel and reinforced concrete structure within. Designed by the NSW Government Architect Walter Liberty Vernon in 1908 using fireproof construction and completed in 1913, the building was the repository for millions of paper records of births, deaths, marriages, and land ownership in the state.

Mirroring the architecture of St Mary’s Cathedral opposite, the exterior features elaborate Gothic Revival stone carving and decoration using Vernon’s favoured ‘yellow-block’ sandstone of exceptional quality, all set on a massive rusticated platform of Bowral trachyte. The steeply pitched slate roof is supported on a steel frame and incorporates two whole floors of offices and storage areas. On the ground floor are three magnificent halls where daily business was transacted, as well as an exceptionally fine staircase leading to the main office suites above. The building was extended to the north in 1930, seamlessly continuing the Gothic theme.

Further north behind the Hyde Park Barracks, the Modernist Records Wing was constructed in 1962 to the design of Peter Hall (later to complete the Sydney Opera House), featuring the first use of brown clinker brick in Australian architecture, as well as expensive materials such as Carrara marble, trachyte and bronze.

On the day, visitors will be able to enter through the grand Gothic entrance and go up to the third floor – the former directorates office and the Rolleston Room. Also on view will be the seamless integration of the old and new wings and the cubicles and desks left in their original state.

  • Photograph of the exterior of the Registrar General's Building in Queens Square, Sydney.

On Sunday 3 November

What’s open?

Third floor including the former directorates office and the Rolleston Room.

Talks, tours & more

Priority access for SLM Members

Members get priority access to this building
Show your special Member wristband to gain priority access during Sydney Open.

Opening hours

9am - 4pm

Last entry



Queens Square, 1 Prince Albert Road, Sydney