Summer Hill Post Office
Designer/Maker:Walter Liberty Vernon and George Oakeshott (assistant draughtsman)
Builder/Maker:New South Wales Works Branch
Summer Hill Post Office is part of a significant and architecturally outstanding group of public buildings, particularly Post Offices, designed by the government architect of the day Walter Liberty Vernon.
The construction of new post offices continued throughout the Depression years under the leadership of Walter Liberty Vernon who retained office from 1890 to 1911. Although a total of twenty-seven offices were erected between 1892 and 1895, funds available to the new Government Architect's Branch were cut from 1893 to 1895, causing Vernon to postpone many important projects.
George Oakeshott was the assistant draughtsman in Vernon's Office and had responsibility for post office designs. He had arrived in NSW from England in 1891 when he joined the Colonial Architect's Branch and was promoted to chief draughtsman in 1897, a position which he held until his resignation in 1900. Reynolds (author) notes that he became the fist director of the NSW Works Branch of the Department of Home Affairs, later transferring to the Commonwealth. He attributes the stylistic changes in the design of post offices under Vernon in large part to Oakeshott.
This assertion is reinforced by the fact that the most distinguished English Domestic Revival post offices were erected in the Sydney metropolitan area at locations including Newtown (1893), Enmore (1895), Annandale (1895-96), Arncliffe (1897-98) and Summer Hill (1900). They include details and materials common to the Queen Anne style, attributed especially to Norman Shaw who had been practising successfully in England in this style for some decades. The incorporation of Dutch Renaissance motifs, notably gables with strapwork and volutes is also characteristic. This group of post offices reflects the architectural trends of its day, being in the vanguard of the movement away from neo-Classicism in 1893 and in the mainstream during the late 1890's.
It was during the early 1890's that prominent clock towers were last used, its demise no doubt arising directly from the economic malaise of the period. As a device for corner enrichment, however. a number of substitutes were developed under Vernon. At Glen Innes the corner porch is surmounted by a balcony with low pitched roof in the Arts and Crafts manner. A porch with balcony is a prominent corner element at Narrandera, whilst at Summer Hill a faceted projecting porch and surmounting balcony and roof substitute for one of Barnet's towers.
Source: Heritage NSW - reference Burwood Post Office