An artist, a cooper and a watchmaker: History of the Bausele store - BAUSELE

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History of the Bausele store

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Black and white historic photo of 75 George St, The Rocks where the Bausele luxury Australian watch company and Sydney watch maker are located today.


Bausele’s Sydney retail store is located in the City of Sydney, in the heart of The Rocks at 75 George Street. The base of our Australian watchmaking adventures has been home to Australian craftspeople and small businesses since 1883. 

Number 75 George Street in Sydney CBD has historic significance as part of the colony’s first hospital. The site then formed part of the land granted to prominent colonial figure William Balmain (1762-1803). Balmain was an assistant surgeon to the First Fleet and served in Sydney between 1788-1791.

By the 1820s a solicitor, Fredrick Garling Snr (1775-1848), lived in a large house with his family on the site. Garling went on to became Crown Solicitor and Crown Prosecutor. For a while, Fredrick Garling Jnr (1806-1973) lived with the family. A customs official by employment, Garling Jnr is better known as a talented marine artist. 

 

Detail of painting by Frederick Garling. Shows merchant, naval and recreational ships welcoming royal ships Galatea and Challenger in Sydney Harbour

 

The site was subsequently associated with another solicitor, Fredrick Wright Unwin (1798-1852), who subdivided the land. A stevedore named Samson took out a mortgage for one subdivided plot and built the residence known as Samson's Cottage backing on to Kendell Lane. 

A single storey shop fronting George Street went up on Samson's plot in 1853. It was built of wood, brick and shingle and and housed grocers, fruiterers and a butcher. In 1882 the Samsons sold to an ambitious cooper named Alexander Cormack who demolished the shop building but kept the Cottage. 

Our three storey heritage listed building was constructed in 1883 with a unique blend of Victorian styles. It is one of a brick pair featuring eclectic stucco ornamentation influenced by the Free Classical, Free Gothic and Eastlake architectural styles.

The facade remains a rare and impressive sight in Sydney today so it's no wonder it caught the eye of a colourful character at the time. Abraham Hoffnung (1834-1912) had served as a diplomat for both the court of St James in England and the King of Hawaii. He also worked in America, Canada and the South Pacific before landing in the family business in Sydney.  

Hoffnung & Co had been established in 1852 and sold local and imported goods. By 1880, the business employed 99 people and operated nine stores in the vicinity of Pitt Street, as well as a large saddlery and harness making company.

Abraham Hoffnung obtained a mortgage from his nephew to buy the twin brick properties in 1889. Since construction the ground floor of 75 George St had been home to hairdressers, hatters, outfitters and tailors. After Hoffnung's purchase our shop changed careers to become refreshment rooms and a confectionary store until 1900.

This sweet stint was short lived and by 1904 the store was once again the domain of a craftsman. A bootmaker shared the building with a boarding house before the upper levels became a private residence from 1910 to 1926.    

During the depression in the 1930s, the premises were not continuously tenanted. The shop was a laundry run by Soo Tim from 1944 until 1947 when the ‘goodwill and fittings’ were sold. Henry James continued the laundry business until 1974 and lived about the shop. 

 

Streetview of the Bausele Australian watch company store in Sydney showing historic facade