Rum Hospital Verandah Conservation

Published on Monday 18th of September 2023

The Rum Hospital verandah conservation works begin this month following remediation works on the south section of the verandah last year.

This important heritage work will include the repair of deteriorated columns, subfloor structure and balustrades and repainting the columns with a traditional linseed ‘sand paint’. This type of paint was traditionally used in the late 19th century to simulate the appearance of stone.

Thank you for your patience and understanding while we carry out this important work.

A short history

This building was constructed between 1811 and 1816 as the south wing of the general hospital (known as the ‘Rum Hospital’). Along with the central block of NSW Parliament House (the north wing of the former hospital), it is the oldest surviving public building in Sydney. The simple, symmetrical two-storey design has a colonnaded verandah on both levels. The ground floor verandah and columns were constructed of stone and the first‑floor verandah and columns of timber.

Originally providing residential quarters for the assistant surgeon and other staff, the building was later converted with a formal arrangement of additional buildings around a central secure courtyard into the Sydney Branch of the Royal Mint (1854–1926). The Mint site is now the headquarters of Museums of History NSW.

The building has undergone alterations during its long history. In the late 1970s it was restored by the Government Architect’s Branch Historic Buildings Group. The conservation works included the replacement of the stone columns on the ground-floor verandah and the timber verandah and columns on the first floor. The chinoiserie timber lattice balustrade was also reconstructed, based on documentary and physical evidence.

View of the Mint building from Macquarie Street

The Mint

Formerly the ‘Rum Hospital’ – oldest surviving public building in Sydney’s CBD