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Another old painted sign briefly reappears on a Sydney building during demolition for new Wynyard Place development

September 1, 2017

A painted sign for Peapes Department Store on the side of 285 George Street Sydney has been uncovered during construction.

Amongst construction and scaffolding on Sydney’s George Street a painted blue and red sign has been uncovered for the first time in more than half a century.

A painted advertisement for Peapes menswear covering the whole side wall of 285 George Street is now visible from the street, showing off the word PEAPES three times in bold letters and advertising mens and boys wear.

It appeared after the Thakral House commercial building was demolished next door. But it’s not going to be around for long – the seven-storey sign will be covered up again as construction begins on the site above Wynyard Station, according to a Brookfield spokesperson.

“The Peapes sign will be preserved in its current position, however will be concealed once the new office tower is constructed adjacent to this building.

”Photographic works are being undertaken in consultation with the project Heritage Consultant to capture this signage prior to constructing the new office tower,” the spokesperson said.

The building at 285 George Street is one of four adjacent Sydney CBD buildings that will make up Brookfield Multiplex’s $1.7 billion Wynyard Place development, which is due to be complete in 2019.

screen-shot-2017-08-30-at-4-47-56-pm The Peapes sign is adjacent to a painted Shell sign on the side of Shell House at 2-12 Carrington Street. Photo: Madeleine Wedesweiler.

As George Street undergoes a transformation with the State Government’s light rail construction, the signs hark back to a time when the area was emerging as the centre of high-end retail and business.

Also known as Beneficial House, 285 George Street was was built in 1923 and was the high-end men’s clothing and tailoring department store Peapes menswear until 1970, when the business closed and the building became offices.

The building has been listed on the State Heritage register as “it reflects the importance of George Street as a principal retailing thoroughfare and, generally, an important period of development during the 1920s.

“The building is of aesthetic significance as one of very few surviving commercial examples of Inter-war Georgian Revival style architecture and the work of Hardy Wilson.”

A City of Sydney spokesperson said that “where possible the City photographs and keeps records of these signs when they emerge.”

“The Peapes Menswear sign is on the façade of a heritage listed building so it is protected. However, that does not prevent it from being obscured or covered by neighbouring buildings. This in fact can often help preserve the historical signage.

“The City suspects there could be more of these signs around Sydney but their locations are often unknown until they are uncovered following demolition of neighbouring buildings,” the spokesperson said.

It’s unknown whether the sign was painted at the same time the building was completed, or whether it was a later addition.

A Peapes ad published in the Sydney Morning Herald in 1929 reads that the store is “for men AND their sons” and has “lofty and spacious departments, where a leisurely peace reigns”.

The former Thakral House next door was built in 1962 and did not receive heritage listing.

Peapes Department store on George Street in the 1920s. Photo: Powerhouse Museum Peapes Department store on George Street in the 1920s. Photo: Powerhouse Museum

Brookfield bought 285 George Street from Kapau holdings in 2014 as it consolidated sites above the station for Wynyard Place.

Thakral House and the Menzies Hotel have been demolished and will become the 27-storey 10 Carrington Street at Wynyard Place.

Beneficial House and Shell House will be restored and returned to use as office buildings.

All up the mixed-use project will have 68,250 square metres of office space, underground parking and 6700 square metres of retail on four levels.

The Peapes sign is the second to emerge in recent months and is adjacent to a painted Shell sign on the side of Shell House at 2-12 Carrington Street.

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