Harry Kent (architect)

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Harry Kent - Architect
(1)Mount Royal (Australian Catholic University) Strathfield-1.jpg
Mount Royal (now Australian Catholic University), Strathfield
Born 1852
Devonshire, England
Died 1938
Sydney, New South Wales
Nationality Australian
Occupation Architect
Practice Harry C. Kent (1882-1899)
Kent & Budden (1899-1912)
Kent Budden & Greenwell (1912-19)
Kent & Massie (1919-1930)
Buildings State Heritage Register:
Former CBC Bank (Cnr George & Barrack Streets Sydney) built between 1921-25
Extensions to Mariners Church in 1927 (98-100 George Street Sydney)

Harry Chambers Kent (1852–1938) was an English-born Australian architect. He was Sydney-based during the late 19th and early 20th centuries and a leader of his profession as President of the Institute of Architects of NSW (1906–07).[1] During his career he was associated with the design of over 670 buildings.[2] Many of his designs are heritage listed and two are on the New South Wales State Heritage Register.

Early life[edit]

Kent was born in Devonshire, England, the son of the Rev. Samuel Chambers Kent and his wife Emily Deacon. A year after his birth, the Kent family emigrated to Australia and the Reverend Kent was appointed Principal of the Camden College in Newtown, New South Wales. Harry Kent was educated at Camden College [3] and the University of Sydney where he graduated with a Master of Arts in 1875.[4] Before his graduation Kent was articled to James Barnet, the New South Wales Colonial Architect, and in 1873 to John Horbury Hunt.[2]

Congregational Church[edit]

Kent and his extended family were all active Congregationalists at a time when that Christian denomination was very influential in the upper middle classes of Sydney society and business. Much of his firm's work came from the church and members of its parishes. Despite his father leaving the church in 1879 for the Anglican Church of Australia, Kent maintained a lifelong dedication to the Congregational Church.


Strathfield Council Chambers with additions by Harry Kent
Kelmswood, Kent's home in Redmyre Road, Strathfield
Woodstock, Kent's other home in Redmyre Road, now converted to apartments

Kent was for many years a resident of Strathfield, New South Wales, and designed a number of buildings in the district. These include:

  • Mount Royal, Albert Road, 1887, now the Australian Catholic University;[5]
  • Agincourt, Albert Road, 1890, now Jesmond Nursing Home
  • Institute for Blind Women, Albert Road, 1891, now the Catholic Institute of Sydney;[2]
  • Inglenook Margaret Street, 1893 (demolished);[2]
  • Swanton Victoria Street, 1914 (demolished);[6]
  • Alterations to Strathfield Council Chambers, Homebush Road, 1913;[7]
  • First floor extensions to Strathfield Council Chambers, Homebush Road, 1921–23;[7]
  • Strathfield Town Hall, Redmyre Road, 1923;[7]

Kent served as an Alderman on Strathfield Council from 1903 until 1905. He designed and built Kelmswood, at 88-94 Redmyre Road in 1893 as his private residence, on the corner of Redmyre Rd and Florence St. Around 1916, Kent moved across the road to 86 Redmyre Road, and called the new house Kelmswood.[8] Kent’s original house is now called Woodstock and has been converted to apartments.[9]


In 1886, Kent married Mary Louisa Elbury Jefferies, the daughter of the Reverend James Jefferies of the Pitt Street Congregational Church. They had two daughters, Gladys and Louise, and a son, Geoffrey.[2]


Early work[edit]

Presbyterian Ladies College, Croydon
Farmers and Graziers Warehouse, Ultimo
Griffiths Teas, Wentworth Avenue, Surry Hills
Bebarfalds, now Woolworths, Sydney

When Kent was unable to find employment after graduation from university, he sought advice from John Fairfax. With a recommendation from Fairfax, Kent managed to secure work with master builder John Young. During this time he worked on the construction of the Department of Lands building, St Mary's Cathedral, Sydney and the Garden Palace that was built for the International Exhibition of 1879. He went into private practice in 1882 and his first commission was the design of Eldon Chambers in Pitt Street, Sydney, for Josiah Mullens.[2]

In 1886, Kent designed Caerleon in Bellevue Hill, New South Wales for the Fairfax family, only to have it redesigned by Maurice B Adams in the Queen Anne Style (this made it the first Queen Anne home in Australia). Accepting the inevitable changes, Kent agreed to supervise the construction of his made-over design, but was then outraged when Adams exhibited the design in London as his own work.[10]

In 1890, Kent designed the main school building at the Presbyterian Ladies College, Sydney.[11] An important early residential design was Lincluden at 12 Fairfax Road, Bellevue Hill, New South Wales, for Sir Thomas Anderson Stuart. The home was constructed 1896-97 and is heritage-listed.[12] In 1895, Kent designed his first major warehouse. The Farmers & Graziers No. 1 Woolstore building is a 3 & 4 storey Federation style warehouse constructed of face brickwork with sandstone detailing and timber windows and doors. It has in recent years been converted into residential apartments.[13]

Kent & Budden[edit]

In 1899, Kent entered into partnership with his former student, Henry Budden and the firm became known as Kent & Budden. Buildings of this partnership include:

Kent Budden & Greenwell[edit]

In 1913, Henry Kent and Henry Budden were joined in partnership by Carlyle Greenwell. Greenwell had served his articles with Kent & Budden and after attending Sydney Technical College and the University of Sydney he had completed a Bachelor of Architecture at the University of Pennsylvania. The partnership of Kent Budden & Greenwell was dissolved in 1919, having produced 150 buildings. Budden and Greenwell continued to work in partnership until 1922.[2] Buildings by Kent Budden & Greenwell include:

Kent & Massie[edit]

Kent and H H Masie became partners in 1919 and practiced together until Kent's retirement in 1930. Massie was a member of an influential banking, commercial and sporting family. Kent & Massie secured many commercial commissions including Bebarfalds,[19] later Woolworths Limited, in George Street, Sydney.[2] Another of their buildings was Pilgrim House, in Pitt Street (1928). It is heritage-listed. [20]

Principal client for Kent and Massie was the Commercial Banking Company of Sydney, now NAB. Kent & Massie designed the former CBC head office on corner of George & Barrack Street Sydney, now heritage-listed,[21] and a series of country banks at Newcastle[22]and Cessnock.[23]


  1. ^ Freeland, J.M. The Making of a Profession, Angus & Robertson, (Sydney, 1971) pp 92
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h "Harry Kent". Strathfield Heritage. Retrieved 10 December 2011. 
  3. ^ Camden College: A Centenary History by John Garrett and L. W. Farr (Syd 1964)
  4. ^ "Alumni Sidneienses". University of Sydney. Retrieved 10 December 2011. 
  5. ^ "Mount Royal". Strathfield Heritage. Retrieved 10 December 2011. 
  6. ^ "Swanton". Strathfield Heritage. Retrieved 10 December 2011. 
  7. ^ a b c "Strathfield Council Chambers and Town Hall". Strathfield Heritage. Retrieved 10 December 2011. 
  8. ^ "Find the name of your house in Strathfield". Strathfield Heritage. Retrieved 10 December 2011. 
  9. ^ "Woodstock". Strathfield Heritage. Retrieved 10 December 2011. 
  10. ^ Edquist, Harriet Pioneers of Modernism - The Arts and Crafts movement in Australia, The Miegunyah Press, (Melbourne, 2008) pp 15
  11. ^ State Heritage Register
  12. ^ State Heritage Register
  13. ^ Department of the Environment
  14. ^ "An Up-To-Date Wool Store". The Muswellbrook Chronicle, 8 September 1906, p4. Retrieved 16 June 2013. 
  15. ^ State Heritage Register
  16. ^ State Heritage Register
  17. ^ 1930 'A Great Architect Retires.', Construction and Local Government Journal (Sydney, NSW : 1913 - 1930), 23 April, p. 17, viewed 16 March, 2015, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article133476573
  18. ^ Pastlivesofthenearfuture.com
  19. ^ Dictionary of Sydney
  20. ^ State Heritage Register
  21. ^ State Heritage Register
  22. ^ State Heritage Register
  23. ^ State Heritage Register