Kogarah’s Ross and Rowe building

The architectural firm of Ross and Rowe was one of the leading Sydney practices in the first half of the 20th century.  The principals were Herbert Ross and Harry Ruskin Rowe. Their buildings included some of Sydney’s most notable: the Downing Centre, the Commonwealth Bank of Australia building, the Metropolitan Hotel, 50 Martin Place, the Bondi SLSC and many other familiar Sydney landmarks.  It might come as a surprise to find that one of their buildings graces Belgrave Street in Kogarah.  In September 1915 Ross and Rowe successfully tendered for the design of bank premises on the corner of Belgrave Street and Post Office Lane.  This was the Government Savings Bank of NSW, which opened in mid-1916, shortly before Captain H Ruskin Rowe set off for the Western Front.  The building, neo-Georgian in design, cost £2,020 to construct.

The GSB amalgamated with the Commonwealth Bank in December 1931.  The Commonwealth moved to new premises in Railway Parade in 1975, and the bank building subsequently became a licensed restaurant.  It was listed on the State Heritage Register, although the architects have only now been re-identified. The bank’s most exciting moment came in November 1922, when safe-crackers attempted to blow open the door of the safe. They bungled it, and police arrested them.

Belgrave Street c1940, bank at left

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