Greenknowe Avenue connects the buzz of Macleay Street to the village vibe of Elizabeth Bay Road.

It may be short, but it still has many stories to tell.

Join me on a walk to find out more about the secrets of Greenknowe Avenue…

The origins of Greenknowe Avenue

Like many streets in our area, Greenknowe Avenue takes its name from one of the original colonial mansions built on “Darlinghurst Hill”.

“Greenknowe” essentially just means “small green hill” – “knowe” is a Scottish variant of knoll. Built in the mid-1800s, Greenknowe stood for many decades but was demolished in the early 1900s when its land was subdivided into the Greenknowe Estate.

The undated subdivision poster shows just a handful of blocks of land, labelled “Darlinghurst Heights”.

A 1938 article from the Sydney Morning Herald also describes the old Greenknowe mansion:

“Greenknowe stood in a large block of land facing Macleay Street. When it was demolished about 20 years ago and the land subdivided, Greenknowe Avenue was formed. Similarly, after the recent sale of the Larbert Estate, Larbert Avenue was formed. Both are short dead-end streets, serving only the allotments of the subdivisions for which they were made.”

Greenknowe Avenue was only approved for extension to Elizabeth Bay Road in the late 1930s as part of a wider plan to ease traffic congestion at Kings Cross. There was hot debate over the plan’s merits, including the prospect that it would bring “more flats”. There was also concern around the resumption of property, as well as the significant cost involved (£39,300).

As a result, work on the Avenue’s extension didn’t commence until the 1940s.

Kingsclere: 1 Greenknowe Avenue

Standing tall on the corner with its distinctive decorative brickwork, Kingsclere was designed by architects Halligan and Wilton. Built in 1912 and containing 17 apartments, it was the first high-rise block of apartments on Macleay Street.

Kingsclere was also the first residential building to introduce the Federation Free Style architecture to Sydney. The style was popular at the time in the United States, and its focus on technology and modern living meant it even had an early form of intercom called “telephonettes”.

In March 1912, a “to let” advertisement appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald:

“KINGSCLERE,” POTTS POINT HEIGHTS, comprising Drawing and Dining Rooms, 3 Bedrooms. 2 Maids Rooms, Kitchen, 2 Bathrooms, linen and store cupboards; electric light and power, direct light into every apartment. An elevated and healthy position, with most glorious panoramic views.

THIS MAGNIFICENT BUILDING is now completed, and occupied by the tenants. No trouble or expense has been spared to make it most replete with all requirements for comfort.”

In 2020, we sold 12/1 Greenknowe Avenue, a magnificent three-bedroom, two-bathroom apartment in Kingsclere for $4 million.

Greenknowe Flats: 2 Greenknowe Avenue

Greenknowe Flats is a block of 60 Spanish Mission-style apartments. It was built in 1929 and designed by architects Bohringer, Taylor and Johnson. They were actually renowned cinema designers from the era. The building’s common areas and stairwells retain the original Art Deco tiling and lighting.

In 1954, The Sun newspaper reported on the repainting of the building:

“Typical of the many large blocks of flats in the King’s Cross area, Greenknowe at Greenknowe Avenue, Potts Point, is being redecorated with Taubmans paints by painting contractors, John Axtell and Son, of Redfern. From the point of view of both owners and tenants, property should not be allowed to deteriorate, and paint is the best known preservative for all exterior surfaces. Owners of flats, shops and buildings at King’s Cross are to be congratulated on what seems to be an all-out effort to improve property.”

We sold at 40/2 Greenknowe Avenue for $702,000 in 2021, a charming one-bedroom apartment, modernised with character Art Deco features.

Tara Building: 3-5 Greenknowe Avenue

An Art Deco 1939 security apartment block known as “Tara”, this building is renowned for its decorative brickwork. Look up next time you walk past and admire the craftsmanship and skill of the bricklayers. Peek into the foyer, and you’ll see that the stunning art deco detail continues inside.

We’ve sold many studios and one-bedroom apartments in this popular building over the years, including 310/3-5 Greenknowe Avenue.

Soho: 6 Greenknowe Avenue

One of the more recent apartment blocks on Greenknowe Avenue, “Soho” is home to a range of modern apartments, some with stellar views. Highly coveted, they rarely come up for sale.

Onslow Gardens: 6a Greenknowe Avenue

Completely hidden from the street, Onslow Gardens is a classic 1920s company title apartment building. A 1930 advertisement from The Sydney Morning Herald offersa glimpse into accommodation for lease in Onslow Gardens, at 6a Greenknowe Avenue:

“ONSLOW GARDENS Exclusively furnished Service Flats, comprising 2 bedrooms, enclosed balconies, lounge and dining rooms, complete electric services, garage, all offices. Wonderful panoramic views Excellent cuisine. Mrs Wessberg.”

But life wasn’t always easy being a tenant at Onslow Gardens. In 1944, the building made the Daily Mirror as 36 tenants “reopened a case in which a Fair Rents Board increased a number of rents from 10s to £3 3s a week”.

We’ve sold several fabulous apartments in Onslow Gardens over the years, including Apartment 17 and Apartment 20.

Munro: 11-13 Greenknowe Avenue

11-13 Greenknowe Avenue is part of a new wave of redevelopments sweeping the 2011 postcode. Older apartment and commercial buildings are being reinvented to capitalise on the demand for larger, contemporary apartments.

Other nearby offerings include the stunning whole-floor apartments of “Billyard Ave” at 29 Billyard Avenue.

Community Centre and Hayes Theatre: 19 Greenknowe Avenue

Number 19 is home to the Reginald Murphy Community Centre, a valuable community resource, and the Hayes Theatre, named after Australian musical theatre legend Nancye Hayes AM. The Hayes Theatre is not-for-profit and uniquely dedicated to honouring the vast history of Australian musical theatre and its practitioners. It also focuses on developing the next generation of performers, creatives and producers. Make sure to support this local icon and check out their upcoming performances.

John Armstrong Reserve

On the corner of Onslow Avenue, beside Greenknowe Cafe at number 8, is Greenknowe Avenue’s only tiny park: John Armstrong Reserve. While the trees are well established now, check out this great black-and-white photo of the park from 1967 to see how much has changed.

Want more?

If you’re looking to buy or sell in Potts Point or Elizabeth Bay, contact my team today.

Article by Jason Boon

In a real estate market that is the focus of Australian, and indeed worldwide attention, Jason Boon's results in the Sydney scene make him a highly significant figure within the industry. A long-term specialist in the Potts Point and inner eastern suburbs area, he is uniquely placed to leverage his skills and local knowledge as the area undergoes significant change and diversification. Jason ha…