John’s Terrace – 1 & 3 John Street Erskineville

Two houses, Nos. 1 and 3 JOHN-STREET, close to Erskineville-road, of brick, front and side cemented, verandahs and balconies in front, and each containing 4 rooms and kitchen, shed with bath, &c. The land has about 33ft. frontage to John-street, depth through to George-street [Charles-street], to which the frontage is about 8ft.

The Sydney Morning Herald, 13 January 1900

John’s Terrace (1 and 3 John Street Erskineville) is comprised of two adjoining two-storey terraces on the east side of John Street near Erskineville Road.

The terrace makes its first appearance in the Macdonald Town Assessment Book in the assessable year commencing February 1880. This suggests that the terrace was completed some time the previous year. The entry notes the ownership of the two houses by ‘P. (Patrick) O’Farrell’ -pencilled in at first, then overwritten in ink. The entry notes also that both houses were also occupied by Patrick O’Farrell.

This extract of the 1880 Macdonald Town Assessment Book shows, from left to right the name of the person in occupation; the name of the owner; and a description of the property:

Macdonald Town Assessment Book Extract 1880.png

Macdonald Town Assessment Book 1880 – City of Sydney Archives

Although the Assessment Books of this time pre-date street numbering, they were meticulously compiled and allow for some good insight as to the location of houses. The corresponding Sands Directory listings for John Street of this era lack street numbering, but were generally poorly transcribed, or, as occurred in the 1883 edition, listed John Street in reverse order. The Assessment Books allow for the general location of the terrace owned by Patrick (and Mrs.) O’Farrell to be identified, and their continued ownership over many years until the numbering of houses in the Assessment Books and Sands Directories became commonplace allows for the confirmation of the two houses listed in the 1880 Assessment Book as 1 and 3 John Street Erskineville.

The images that follow combine an Assessment Book entry with the subsequent edition of the Sands Directory. Whilst they are attributed to different years the Sands Directories were prepared in the year prior to their publication, and so they are not so far apart in their timing. These entries highlight the vagaries of Sands Directory records for John Street Erskineville, but they are useful in that they do allow for observations to be made of the kind of professions held by residents of John Street Erskineville in the 1880s.


Macdonald Town Assessment Book Extract 1881

Macdonald Town Assessment Book 1881 – City of Sydney Archives

John Street Macdonald Town Sands Directory Extract 1882

1882 Sands Directory


Macdonald Town Assessment Book Extract 1882

Macdonald Town Assessment Book 1882 – City of Sydney Archives

John Street Macdonald Town Sands Directory Extract 1883

1883 Sands Directory

*Note John Street Sands Directory entries are listed in reverse order*


Macdonaldtown Assessment Book Extract 1883.png

Macdonaldtown Assessment Book 1883 – City of Sydney Archives

John Street Macdonald Town Sands Directory Extract 1884

1884 Sands Directory


Macdonaldtown Assessment Book Extract 1884

Macdonaldtown Assessment Book 1884 – City of Sydney Archives

John Street Macdonald Town Sands Directory Extract 1885

1885 Sands Directory


Macdonaldtown Assessment Book Extract 1884

Macdonaldtown Assessment Book 1885 – City of Sydney Archives

John Street Macdonald Town Sands Directory Extract 1886

1886 Sands Directory

*Note Assessment Book description of property refers to ‘BH 4R’ – Brick Home 4 Rooms*


Macdonaldtown Assessment Book Extract 1886

Macdonaldtown Assessment Book 1886 – City of Sydney Archives

John Street Macdonaldtown Sands Directory Extract 1887

1887 Sands Directory


Macdonaldtown Assessment Book Extract 1887

Macdonaldtown Assessment Book 1887 – City of Sydney Archives

John Street Macdonaldtown Sands Directory Extract 1888

1888 Sands Directory


Macdonaldtown Assessment Book Extract 1888

Macdonaldtown Assessment Book 1888 – City of Sydney Archives

John Street Macdonaldtown Sands Directory Extract 1889

1889 Sands Directory


Macdonaldtown Assessment Book Extract 1889

Macdonaldtown Assessment Book 1889 – City of Sydney Archives

John Street Macdonaldtown Sands Directory Extract 1890

1890 Sands Directory


Macdonaldtown Assessment Book Extract 1890

Macdonaldtown Assessment Book 1890 – City of Sydney Archives

John Street Macdonaldtown Sands Directory Extract 1891

1891 Sands Directory


Macdonaldtown Assessment Book Extract 1891

Macdonaldtown Assessment Book 1891 – City of Sydney Archives

John Street Macdonaldtown Sands Directory Extract 1892

1892 Sands Directory

Street numbers!

I could go on, but mercifully evidence linking 1 and 3 John Street to the original appearance of the property in the 1880 Assessment Book has presented itself.

Alright, just to confirm the numbering and location further, here is the terrace as it appeared on a map compiled in the early 1890s and published in 1894:

1 and 3 John Street Erskineville 1894 City of Sydney section Erskineville.png

1894 – City of Sydney Section Erskineville – Sheet 10


The only known reference to the name of the terrace appeared in an advertisement for the sale of the property in August 1887:

John's-terrace Macdonaldtown 1887.png

Sydney Morning Herald Friday, 19 August 1887

The houses appear not to have sold at this time, with the O’Farrell’s maintaining ownership of the terrace until about 1895. Most references to the houses at this time were advertisements offering the properties for rent, or lodgings within:

1 John Street Erskineville 1892.png

Evening News (Sydney) Saturday, 23 January 1892

3 John Street Macdonaldtown 1892.png

Evening News (Sydney) Wednesday 17 August 1892

3 John Street Macdonaldtown 1893.png

Evening News (Sydney) Wednesday 22 March 1893

This sales notice from January 1900 provides an accurate discription of the property, indicating that externally little has changed over time. Still today only the front and southern sides are ‘cemented’ with the northern and eastern sides exposed brick. The ‘depth through to George-street, to which the frontage is about 8ft’ remains, the advertisement pre-dating the change to the naming of George Street to Charles Street.

1 and 3 John Street Erskineville 1900.png

Sydney Morning Herald Saturday, 13 January 1900

Moving on to September 1933, Mrs. Cowlisham of 3 John Street managed to snare for herself one of a series of ‘attractive Paris-Vienna jumpers’ offered as prizes in the Australian Women’s Weekly “Awkward Moments” competition:

When I had to Run 1933.png

The Australian Women’s Weekly Saturday, 9 September 1933

This image, taken in August 1969 shows 1 and 3 John Street to the far right of the image, the side wall adorned with advertising for ‘Lawrence Dry Cleaners:’

John St near cnr of Erkineville Rd, Erskineville 1969.png

John St near cnr of Erkineville Rd, 20 August 1969
City of Sydney Archives image SRC6868

Up until its closure at the end of 2016 the terrace had for many years been the location of a medical general practice, the wall facing Erskineville Road painted with the signage of the medical practitioner incorporating a kindly looking medico:

Former General Practice Erskineville.png

Signage of former medical practice 1-3 John Street Erskineville

The sign, hidden for the time being perhaps will re-emerge one day as a ghost sign reminder of this building’s past use.

Following the sale of the terrace in late 2016 the sign has been painted over, and development applications affixed to the front of the building point to a return of the terrace to separate residences.

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This entry was posted in 1880-1889, 1890-1899, John Street and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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