If the bright lights of Kings Cross could be likened to a party-loving twenty-something, the tree-lined enclave of Potts Point would undoubtedly be an elegant old dame who’s content to enjoy a quiet brandy and a spot of clever conversation.
And that’s where the unique, character-filled Springfield Avenue fits in, as one of the area’s most desirable streets – especially for those with a sense of style and nostalgia.
A little history
If you’re trying to imagine the area’s early days, Adelaide’s The Advertiser painted an evocative picture in 1939 by describing Kings Cross and its surrounds as ‘mansions in parklands, the Valhalla of the gilt-edged gods’.
Springfield, one of Potts Point’s grandest houses, was built in 1830 and became a feature of the area until the estate was demolished in 1934. The area was sub-divided, making way for the Springfield Avenue we see today – and some of the country’s first ever blocks of flats, which were a far cry from the suburban homes that were then considered the norm. Apartment living is a trend continuing in the area today with the majority of Potts Point residents calling a flat, apartment or studio home.
Art deco galore
Of course, if there’s anything Springfield Avenue is famous for, it’s the architecture. Australia’s largest concentration of art deco architecture can be found here and around the whole Potts Point precinct, offering a beautiful glimpse into the city’s bygone days.
Many of the buildings here were designed by lesser known architects such as Claud Hamilton and Walter Leslie Nielson; both dubbed ‘urban pioneers’ for the elegant, timeless art deco buildings they left behind.
Nielson designed two of the street’s most spectacular period buildings in the Inter-War Free Classical style: Carinthia at number 7 and Carisbrooke at number 11. The Vanderbilt at Number 13 is equally striking (and was home to music producer and former Home & Away star Charlton Hill before he sold in 2015).
Number 13 also houses the Kings Cross Clinic – a GP and travellers medical practice – and No. 13 The Beauty Avenue, which is good for a massage, facial, St Tropez spray tan – or cosmetic tattoo, if that floats your boat.
The iconic Bernly building at number 15 with its curved façade is now the Quest Serviced Apartments – but for a bit of trivia, some claim the building was taken over by the military in WWII and became the Bernly American Red Cross Officers Club.
Stroll a little further on, and you’ll spot architect Claud Hamilton’s original 1926 brownstone, Regents Court, at 18 Springfield Avenue. Built in 1929, its art deco style evokes a bit of a 1920s New York vibe – and these days, there’s no doubt this apartment hotel is a cool place to lay your hat.
Hamilton also designed the charming 1935 residential block, Sandringham, at 20-22 Springfield Ave.
Groceries and eateries
Make sure you stop for a nibble and a spot of people-watching at Petrel Kitchen, located out the front of Springfield Lodge at 9 Springfield Ave.
Or, fill a basket at the Village Centre at 24 Springfield Avenue, where you’ll find Harris Farm Markets, Sydney Fresh Seafood, Bourke Street Bakery and a range of other speciality stores and businesses (including acupuncturists at Lotus Healing Arts).
You might not know it, but…
… there’s history and quirky stories at every turn of this unassuming Avenue.
In the 1940s and 50s, Springfield Ave was where evangelist Sister Ada Green got on her soapbox on Friday evenings, sporting a flowered hat and tambourine, to preach. According to Louis Nowra, author of Kings Cross: A biography, Ada was often carted off in the paddy wagon for endangering the peace, only to return the following week.
And in the 1960s, the Village Centre site housed the creepy Kings Cross Wax Works museum, complete with figures from Madame Tussaud’s in London – and a section dedicated to ancient forms of torture. Disturbing? Just a bit…
Cold Chisel immortalised Springfield Avenue in its 1982 song Numbers Fall – and more recently, Number 2 Springfield Avenue became a filming location for the 2010 hit TV series Underbelly: The Golden Mile (and one particularly memorable scene in which a character was thrown off a balcony).
It’s a beautiful street with a lot of life and more than a dash of history.
We hope you’ll come down and take a walk yourself.
On the market:
- 9/7 Springfield Avenue, Potts Point – Auction Thursday 13th Dec at 5:30 pm – View details