A 20th-century Edwardian-style building in Sydney’s Chinatown has been recommended for heritage listing as an example of one of the earliest buildings owned and operated by Chinese people in Sydney.

An independent heritage assessment has found that the three-storey brick building, its interiors and contents, have rare historic, aesthetic and social value.

Built in 1910, the Dixon Street building operated as a shop, store, dormitory and headquarters for merchants Phillip Lee Chun and the Kwong War Chong & Company.

According to City of Sydney historian Dr Lisa Murray, the shop was important for distributing goods, supporting the migrant community, and providing dormitories and meeting places for market gardeners. She says the shop shows how the location of Chinatown has shifted as Sydney has grown and developed.

“They say the Chinese dragon of Sydney has its feet in the Rocks, its body in Haymarket and its head in Dixon Street.

“Dixon Street is the heart of today’s Chinatown, but in the 1850s the Chinese community’s commercial and cultural centre was in The Rocks.

“By the 1880s it had shifted to Surry Hills and Haymarket to be around the market buildings, where cook shops and boarding houses met the needs of travelling market gardeners.

“Traders, merchants and providores followed in their footsteps. By the early 20th century, the city council built new produce markets close to Darling Harbour in Ultimo and Chinatown became focused around Dixon Street.”

Image credit: City of Sydney