"The Hermitage" 1-9 Pennant Ave Densitone, NSW

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About the project
Key Details
  • About The Project

    Restoration and conservation of an 1840s farmhouse dwelling and reinstatement of the landscape setting of the house by the removal of highly intrusive interventions done when the house was converted into CSIRO offices and laboratories in the 1960s and the reconstruction of the western wing. Primarily the Blaxland house was converted back into a stately residence.

  • Project summary

    The Hermitage is an 1840s colonial farmhouse. It was built by John Blaxland and several additions were done to it by the Nicholson family. Over time, the house developed from a simple four-bedroom colonial farmhouse into a U- shaped compound of various building components. In the 1960s, the house was converted into scientific laboratories by CSIRO which caused major components of the house to be demolished. It was the job of Heritage 21 to remove all the intrusive elements undertaken in the 1960s and convert the premises back into a home by restoring all the remnant fabric including the landscaping.

    This heritage listed item constitutes one of the oldest buildings in Australia dating back to the 1840s. Its original construction comprises very fragile fabric including sandstone, brickwork, timber, slate and plant species. All the fabric had to be treated very carefully due to its sensitive nature. Throughout the project, Heritage 21 worked closely with the builder to ensure that the buildings and the gardens were fully conserved.

  • What was done

    The house was completely conserved. All intrusive fabric added in the 1960s was removed. The entire overgrown front garden was cleared to reinstate the original representation of the Hermitage to its views and vistas across the valley all the way to Homebush.

  • Time frame

    From 2009 till 2015. (6 year-long project)

Services provided
  • Participation on site with the builder for a period of 7 years while the project ensued
  • Involvement in all major decisions regarding conservation and new work
  • Sandstone Condition Assessment and Remediation advice
  • Input into the landscaping and the reinstatement of the gardens
  • Minuting of all on-site meetings throughout the construction period
  • Management of all introduced new fabric in the heritage context
Why was the work undertaken?

The conservation of the Hermitage was linked to development on a sub divided portion of the original Hermitage farmhouse complex. A condition by council was the Hermitage be conserved satisfactorily prior to permission being granted to the developer for the construction of 32 town houses on the sequestered portion of the land. This provided great incentive for the developer to become involved in the conservation works given the need to put the 32 town houses on the market as soon as possible. However, the project was not pressured, and a period of 6 years was granted to the builder to get all the details right. Heritage 21 provided the guidance to the builder with a highly positive result.

Who was the work completed for?

The developers for this project are Sheree Waks and Dia Gabra from Maksim Holdings and the builder for the project was Hany Sewires.


Tremendous reversal of highly intrusive elements carried out to the building since 1840 and reinstatement of the original front and rear gardens from a highly overgrown condition. Heritage 21 was able to reinstate the gardens using photographic evidence available from the early 1900s. The archaeology revealed the presence of a well which was also reinstated. The basement of the house, which is now a cellar, was originally where the 1840s convicts were kept overnight.

A highly positive result was achieved for this project. It represents one of the most prestigious jobs for Heritage 21 given its age dating back to the 1840s and its tremendously important place in Australia’s colonial history being a typical 1840s farmhouse with convict basement and bedroom attic along with all the traditional materials and building methodologies of the day. This project taught us a lot about early construction, and we have used this invaluable information to inform our approach and working methodology on other similar farmhouse buildings in NSW.

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What our clients
& partners say:

“'I have had some involvement with Heritage 21 in working through the design and documentation currently taking place at the Exchange Hotel in Balmain, and have appreciated the ability to provide recommendation on potential design outcomes that are able to be supported as consistent with heritage requirements' ”

Liam Corr
Registered Architect

“It has also been a pleasure working with Paul and your team on this project. To be honest, I had not done heritage projects before and it was only through Paul and your team’s guidance that allowed me to complete this project at a high standard. I am now confident in doing heritage projects like this and I look forward to the next project that we can work on together. Again, thank Paul and Divya patience and professional advice throughout the process. ”

Eddie Lam

“Really appreciate the help in responding the RFIs. I acknowledge all the work that was required and that you put into that report. Maddocks said you made their job easy! ”

Max Symonds
Development Manager - Metro Property Development

“Just as client-side project manager for Honey Insurance, I would to let you know that it has been a very positive experience and appreciate your quick responses and quality of work from you and your organisation thus far. ”

Nick Maric
Project Management

“I just wanted to share the good news that Canterbury-Bankstown Council has decided to withdraw the development control order issued to our client. The report you prepared was pivotal in this decision by the Council. Many thanks to you, Paul and the team for your work on this. ”

Anna Lindeman-Jones
Senior Associate - Addisons

“I'd like to thank Paul and Lauren for their dedication, persistence and well thought through support and substantiation of the design merits of our development proposal; it is no easy feat to have a new building approved in a heritage conservation area, and particularly adjacent to heritage items. ”

Tim McLachlan
Development Manager

“I consider that we have a well prepared case that has been cogently articulated by Paul and Michael. It is a fraught experience for us, however we do appreciate the input from top professionals such as Paul ”

Richard Mann
Registered Architect

“Hi team at Heritage 21 I just wanted to say thanks for all your hard work on Mosman and being so responsive etc. One of our team recommended you and I have been very happy with the service provided. ”

Di Jones
Principal - Linked Project Management

“We would also like to take a quick moment to thank you all for your contribution to the project and we will update you on any developments as necessary”

Jose Serrao
Registered Architect

“Dear Heritage 21 team, I am please to advise that all the work prepared by your team has satisfied council’s contentions. We definitely know who to come to next time for heritage matters. ”

Andres Caceres
Level 33

“Thank you for all your work preparing this Statement of Heritage. I sat down yesterday and had a good read cover to cover, and felt very appreciative of your level of research and detailed consideration of our requirements.”

Varuna', Katoomba

“Just wanted to let you know, Council agreed with us in our application to reinstate the front facade! I am so excited. I wanted to thank you for all your help in getting this across the line. ”

Jane Frawley

“It has been a pleasure to work with you and your team as well!”

Holding Redlich

“Dear Heritage 21 team - This is an excellent result, thank you for all your work.”

Sevda Cemil

“Sites with heritage values present great opportunities, however often can be easily derailed if clear, concise and timely advice is not provide at the earliest stages of site planning. I have worked with Heritage 21 over numerous projects across Sydney and have found them to be valuable project partners in the development process. ”

Vince Hardy
Urban Planning Consultant, Cityscapeplanning+projects

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