Named in honour of the famous London street and conceived by English architect, John Spencer, the ambitious 1890's building comprised a three-level gallery arcade with magnificent cedar staircases, central bridge between floors and decorative glass lantern roof.
The design was based on European arcade architecture of the early 1800s, of which The Burlington in London is the archetype.
As Sydney grew into the new century, the arcade soon became a refuge from the noisy, bustling streets – a browser’s paradise.
The roaring twenties brought in The Ambassadors Café - a supper club that housed a large, extravagantly decorated ballroom which seated 700, and a small Palm Court used mainly for luncheons and afternoon tea dances.
By the 1950s, basement club Chequers was the fashionable place to eat, drink and be merry. While upstairs the arcade continued as a marketplace, patrons downstairs could now enjoy the spectacle of flashy entertainment.
This popular mix of spectacle and shopping came to a grinding halt at 3.00am on the morning of May the 25th 1976, a fire broke out at the Arcade. Twelve fire crews fought the blaze for hours but the building was left in ruins.
After the fires, restoration work was carried out under the guidance of architect Alan Lawrence. In the absence of original drawings, a remnant of one of the cedar shopfronts was used as a prototype for the other 79.
The painstaking process of rebuilding and restoration was completed by 1977 and re-opened to the public with a fashion parade. The future of the arcade was looking up.
As the Strand Arcade progressed into the 21st century, it held its own as a majestic beauty in the middle of our sprawling metropolis - cementing a reputation as a centre of Australian designer fashion and specialty stores catering for a clientele looking for something that’s a little more unique, crafted with care.
In May 2013, after closing a chapter of 38 years at the MLC Centre, we found our new home at the Strand Arcade - the perfect fit for us in terms of style, fashion and heritage.
Designed by international award-winning architect Adrian Spence, the 170sqm boutique was set over two levels at the George Street entrance of the building. The interior reflecting the architectural elements in a contemporary context – tessellated tiles, brass and leather detailing throughout and that sweeping grand staircase. A beautiful store that was warm, welcoming and a source of pride for Hunt.
Last year, we made the tough decision to make room for new opportunities in the business - we left our George street store in pursuit of a more intimate setting just inside the arcade at No.5.
- OUR NEW STORE -
SHOP No. 5
When you next find yourself in Sydney,
please stop by our beautiful new store, now open at:
Shop No. 5, Strand Arcade, 412 George Street.
The place to be for the finest leather, accessories & travel goods from Australia and around the world.
Photography: Bruce Hunt