How did three distinctive apartment buildings come to share the same manicured gardens and harbour views, tucked away in a gated estate in the heart of one of Sydney’s most happening areas?
Welcome to Manar: a quirk of time. Tucked away from prying eyes, here are six things you may not know about this grand old building.
1. The history: If one property could sum up Potts Point, it would be Manar
It’s hard to dispute Manar’s historical significance – not only for the development of Potts Point, but also for early 20th century apartment living in Australia. And no other building better sums up Potts Point’s irreplicable mix of privacy, architecture and action.
- Manar sits on the original Macleay land holding, at 40A-42 Macleay Street.
- Manar is an incredible example of period architecture and a pioneer of apartment living in Sydney. Building one, which retains distinctive elements of late 19th century house design, was converted to apartments. Buildings two and three were constructed when Potts Point was one of Sydney’s most desirable suburbs. And the private, landscaped gardens are a testament to how apartment living was seen at that time – a luxury, not a compromise.
- Potts Point would be nothing if it weren’t for its location, and Manar cashes in on a particularly prime spot. Tucked behind a locked gate and set at the back of the block, Manar offers solitude from a hectic city life, but backs right onto Macleay Street – long regarded as the closest thing Australia has to a New York or London street. It offers residents instant access to one of the best sections of Potts Point, close to boutiques, a supermarket, parks, restaurants and cafes, including Fratelli Fresh and The Apollo.
- Potts Point has always shared an intimate connection with Sydney’s stunning natural and built environment, and Manar epitomises that. Backing onto a cliff face blasted by convict labour in the 1830’s – it offers some of the best views of Sydney Harbour available anywhere in the city. Look outside of any apartment and you’ll instantly be whisked away to another world.
2. The name: It’s missing an ‘n’
Built in the 19th century by the Scottish Gordon family, the original cottage on this site was named Manar after their Braidwood, NSW, farm, which was in turn named after their Scottish farm.
Its name derives from the source of their wealth: pearl fishing. The Gulf of Mannar between India and Sri Lanka was one of the main sources of pearls for 2,000 years.
3. The people: A who’s who of Sydneysiders
Current residents of Manar join a long line of some of Sydney’s most notable cultural, intellectual and political icons.
The list includes:
- Scottish educationist and scholar Mango McCallum who lived there during 1929.
- Influential publisher Sydney Ure Smith, who moved into an apartment during 1931.
- Business identities including Arthur Hardy, of Hardy’s Jewellers and a Mr Yates, of Yates Garden Supplies.
- World-famous opera singer, Dame Nellie Melba lived in apartment 5.
- High Court judge Sir Garfield Barwick lived in apartment 8.
- Prime Minister, Sir Jack McEwan lived in apartment 23.
- Sydney Lord Mayor Jack Armstrong lived in apartment 1.
- Lucy Turnbull, former Lord Mayor City of Sydney Council 2003 and wife of current Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, was born in apartment 3.
4. The architecture: The reason why no Manar building is the same
Whether viewing from the inside or out, you’ll soon notice that each Manar building has a different appearance.
One of the apartment blocks was never designed to be an apartment, and each was built at a different time. Building one dates back to 1888, when the Gordon family’s cottage was demolished and replaced with a two-storey villa. That building was later sold and transformed into five apartments by 1919.
There is some evidence of the 1888 house layout and architectural features from this era do exist, such as the French doors, and the original 1888 chimney pots still visible above the roof line.
Another two buildings at the rear and northern side added between 1928-38, and are typical of the interwar architectural vibrancy prevalent in Potts Point during that time.
Built in the neo-Georgian style with Palladian-proportioned windows, terrazzo foyers, Tuscan columns, ornate ceiling cornices and some modern Art Déco touches including mottled glass, these buildings were designed by prominent architects Ernest A. Scott and Green, later known as Scott, Green and Scott.
5. The money: Exclusivity comes at a cost
Manar set a precedent for apartment living, and it’s also been known to set a precedent for how much buyers are willing to shell out – even for the smaller units in the block. The sale of apartment 8 in 2007 for $3.2 million set a record that was unbeaten for many years. I sold apartment 8 again in 2014 for $3.75 million and also unit 5 for $4 million in July 2016.
6. The offer: A rare opportunity to buy a slice of Manar is here
Apartment 1, a three to four bedroom penthouse apartment located in the original 1888 house, is for sale. It’s the largest apartment in the block, and typical of all of Manar’s fabulous architectural features, including a mansion-like layout, 3.5m ceilings, retained heritage touches, grand private stair entry, original floorboards, ornate fireplaces, French doors and unobstructed views down the harbour to Sydney Heads from a large, sunny outdoor terrace,
Steeped in history, the apartment offers an unparalleled chance to create an extraordinary architectural legacy. Currently in a raw condition, there is clear potential to craft a truly world-class home befitting of this grand old building.
If you’d like to know more about Manar, get in touch with our team today.