With its cylindrical shape cheekily nicknamed ‘the Corncob’, the Gazebo is one of Sydney’s most recognisable apartment buildings.
It has been an icon of the Sydney skyline for more than half a century.
Before the Gazebo, the address now known as 2 Elizabeth Bay Road was home to the stately 19th-century mansion Cheverells. The land where the Gazebo now stands was part of a larger estate granted to Colonial Secretary Alexander Macleay in 1831. In 1841, he sold off several allotments, and it was on one of these that Cheverells was built sometime between 1841 and 1856. The grand three-storey house was home to several Sydney luminaries in its day, including trader Captain William Deloitte, David Jones of the eponymous department store and the family of William Charles Wentworth, who, with Gregory Blaxland and William Lawson, led the first colonial expedition to cross the Blue Mountains in 1813.
A 1936 issue of the Australian Women’s Weekly recounts how Cheverells was once owned by wealthy Sydney woman Mrs Parry Long, who rumour had it bought the property with the aim of making her daughter the richest woman in Australia. Sadly, her daughter, an only child, died in 1930, five years before Mrs Parry Long herself passed away.
In the 1940s, Cheverells was, like many of Kings Cross’s stately mansions, converted into flats.
Cheverells American Red Cross Officers’ Leave Club
During the Second World War, several of Kings Cross’s older surviving mansions were transformed into officer’s clubs for use by the various armed forces. Cheverells was taken over by the American Red Cross. During the period it was in use by the armed forces, many men stayed (including, it is rumoured, future Australian Prime Minister Billy McMahon), and 194,000 meals, including Sunday afternoon teas, were served. Local Sydney women volunteered to work as household personnel at Cheverells. Musicals were staged, with violinist and conductor Eugene Ormandy one of those to perform.
In the 1960s, Cheverells was demolished and replaced by the distinctive Gazebo Hotel. Its owner, colourful developer, businessman and decorated sailor Syd Fischer designed the building himself after admiring similar buildings in Chicago. It was a classic example of the Post War International Style, which embraced structure, plan and functionalism. The 12-sided, 18-storey building has a white marble aggregate façade and a cylindrical shape, with the layout of the floors determined by its radiating concrete frame. Many of the apartments enjoy sweeping panoramic views thanks to their unique wedge shapes. Today, the building nicknamed ‘the Corncob’ is heritage listed for its technical engineering design significance and has been recognised by the Australian Institute of Architects as a significant building of the 20th century.
The Gazebo was a sensation when it opened in 1969, with one pundit describing it as ‘one of the most spirited additions to the Sydney skyline for some time.’ The hotel, which had 200 rooms for 500 guests, was crowned by a heated swimming pool and enclosed observation deck, which offered stunning 360-degree views across the city and the harbour. Contemporary images by celebrated photographer Max Dupain captured the décor, which was delightfully of its time and included modern plastic furniture and orange carpet. The Gazebo also contained a vibrant blue and purple cocktail bar, a ground floor bar and restaurant called Pavilion, a coffee terrace and a convention room.
In 1982, the Gazebo was expanded when an adjacent service station was developed into a complementary rectangular apartment block with courtyards.
Over the years, the Gazebo Hotel welcomed well-known local and international guests, as well as attracting identities from the Kings Cross nightlife scene. It has also been used as a setting for countless film and television productions, including scenes from Underbelly and Dirty Deeds. The hotel closed in the 1990s.
Following in the footsteps of other iconic Kings Cross hotels, both of the buildings on the Gazebo site were transformed into 61 contemporary luxury apartments in 2005. Today, the Gazebo apartments range from studios to one and two bedrooms to sub-penthouses and a penthouse. Residents enjoy an indoor swimming pool, gym, spa and sauna, as well as building management service, concierge service and security access.
The building’s ground floor bar and restaurant also reopened in 2005 as The Gazebo. American-inspired café/restaurant/bar Bloody Mary’s has been operating in the space since late 2020.
The chance to own a slice of design history
We’re pleased to offer 504/2a Elizabeth Bay Road for sale, a chic one-bedroom plus study apartment in the iconic Gazebo building. Nestled on the 5th floor of this celebrated building, it features designer interiors, a sun-washed balcony with leafy district views, secure parking and an internal laundry. This stylish and serene apartment offers the chance to embrace the Elizabeth Bay village lifestyle in your own piece of Kings Cross’s architectural heritage.
If you’d like to make the Gazebo your home, get in touch today.