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 First Government House (stage 1) by Morton Herman (from "THE EARLY AUSTRALIAN ARCHITECTS")
Renovate or redecorate, demolish or extend; these decisions plagued early Governors as they remodelled First Government House to keep up with the times.

During the 57 years of its existence, Sydney's First Government House underwent an almost non-stop series of changes; some large, some small.  A few were due to the whims of the Governor of the day - or his lady - while others were to meet the urgent need for more office space from which to govern a growing colony.  But morst of the ongoing work was simply repairs in a never-ending race to keep up with the decay caused by leaks, rot and mould; the lack of many basic materials in the original design; the use of unfamiliar timbers, and the eternal depredations of the Australian white ant.


Throughout its life, First Government House was subject to an endless series of alterations.  Most of these were minor refurbishments and ongoing repairs, but some were major reconstructions which significantly altered its appearance.  Using the letterhead that he designed for the Friends (based upon an 1836 Rodius painting), our editor, Cam Ford, traces the most important of these changes.

 Phase 1: 1788-1790
Originally intended to have only four rooms (two up, two down), First Government House was completed with two more ground floor rooms at the back.  Governor Phillip's office was to the right of the entrance, and his dinining room to the left.

Phase 2: around 1795
Prompted by his experience of the West Indies, Governor Hunter added a verandah across the north-facing front of the house to shade the ground floor rooms from the summer sun.


Phase 4: 1802
The front verandah was extended across the whole north face of the house.
 Phase 5: 1810-1812
Governor Macquarie extended the verandah, and oversaw the demolition of the private rooms behind the drawing room to erect a big and rather clumsy south wing, featuring a large dining room with a five-window bowed rear wall.
Phase 6: 1818-1819
Macquarie later added a gabled east wing and porch to the south wing to provide more room, improved access and a better visual balance tot he frontal aspect of the house.
Phase 7: 1827
Governor Darling made a major alteration to the overall layout of the house by raising the roof and adding a second story to the south wing.  He also closed up the original front door, and converted two of the old front windows into a separate new entrance.
 Phase 8: 1845
First Government House demolished.
Some of the dates given cover the period of construction; others are only approximate, since not all of these changes were well documented.  Reference from "Australia's First Government House" by Proudfoot, Bickford, Edgloff & Stocks and "First Views of Australia
 This article was published in the Site Gazette - Volume 9 Number 4 October 2003 - ISSN 1326-2017
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