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Scots Presbyterian Church, Sydney, NSW, Australia

August 11, 2014

While I’ve got Oz on the mind, there is one exceptionally curios and interesting church down under that caught my attention a few years ago—as you might guess, through a postcard acquired at eBay.

Positive image from a scan of a Powerhouse Museum, Tyrrell Collection, glass plate negative

Scots Presbyterian Church on York Street in central Sydney, NSW, is of that very special Akron-Auditorium variant called the Institutional Church. You’ll find the typical auditorium sanctuary, but not always with the heretofore requisite Sunday School adjacent. I.C. buildings often have other elements, however, such as day care and other social service facilities. In some exceptional cases, they also have income-generating components, such as hotel rooms or office space. The original design by Mr Oscar Beattie of Mssrs. Rosenthal, Rutledge & Beattie, Architects, was shortened to five floors due to the Great Depression.

Finding detailed information on Scots Church has been difficult, but it did have considerable rental space on its upper floors. Not unlike Adler & Sullivan’s Auditorium in Chicago—which wrapped income producing offices and a hotel around the 3,000-seat auditorium—Scots’ auditorium sanctuary is nestled within what hardly appears to be an orthodox church. The congregation has adapted to the realities of inner-city real estate by allowing airspace above the original building to be developed. Preservation often requires compromise.

scots sydney NSW 02

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