Thomas Rowe

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For other people named Thomas Rowe, see Thomas Rowe (disambiguation).
Thomas Rowe
Thomas Rowe.jpg
1st Mayor of Manly
In office
15 February 1877 – 7 February 1879
Succeeded by Alfred Hilder
Alderman on the Manly Municipal Council
In office
13 February 1877 – 1 October 1880
Succeeded by James Boscawen Duff
Alderman on the Sydney City Council
In office
2 December 1872 – 30 November 1876
Preceded by Joseph Raphael
Succeeded by John Young
Constituency Bourke Ward
Personal details
Born (1829-07-20)20 July 1829
Penzance, Cornwall, England
Died 14 July 1899(1899-07-14) (aged 69)
Darling Point, Colony of New South Wales
Occupation Architect
Religion Methodist

Thomas Rowe (20 July 1829 – 14 January 1899) was a British-born architect, builder and goldminer who became one of Australia's leading architects of the Victorian era.[1] He was also a politician, who was the first Mayor of Manly


Thomas Rowe was born in Penzance, Cornwall, United Kingdom, the eldest son of Richard Rowe and Ursula Mumford, and attended Barnes Academy. At 15 he became a draftsman in his father's building business before the family emigrated to Australia in 1848. From 1857 he practised as an architect in Sydney, Bathurst, Orange, Newcastle and Goulburn. In 1872 he was elected alderman for Bourke Ward of the Sydney City Council, which he held until 1876. During his time on the council he worked on sanitation efforts related to improving the Sydney water supply. Rowe Street, which runs from Pitt Street to Castlereagh Street, was at that time named after him by in a vote by the council.[2] In February 1877 he was elected to the first Manly Municipal Council and was elected first Mayor of Manly, overseeing the first laying-out of the town of Manly, and serving as an alderman until 1880.[3] Rowe was also the founder, and for many years president, of the New South Wales Institute of Architects, and was elected a Fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects in 1884.[4]

As an architect he was often successful in competitions and his firms built commercial premises, large houses and many Methodist churches. He died in 1899 in Mona, a heritage-listed[5] house in Darling Point, New South Wales.

Key works[edit]

(Many of the following buildings are heritage-listed):[6]

Architectural Partners[edit]

  • W.B.Field
  • Sydney Green
  • Alfred Spain[10]

Harry Ruskin Rowe[edit]

The Cabbage Trees, Ruskin Rowe, Avalon

Rowe's son Harry Ruskin Rowe was also successful as an architect. One of his most significant achievements was the creation in 1950 of Ruskin Rowe, an estate in the Sydney suburb of Avalon. Rowe acquired a house, The Cabbage Trees, in the estate and used it as a weekender. The estate still exists and is heritage-listed.[11]


  1. ^ M Freeland, Thomas Rowe, pp 68–69, Volume 6, Australian Dictionary of Biography (MUP, 1976)
  2. ^ "Thomas Rowe". Sydney's Aldermen. City of Sydney. Retrieved 22 June 2016. 
  3. ^ "MUNICIPALITY OF MANLY.". New South Wales Government Gazette (66). New South Wales, Australia. 16 February 1877. p. 735. Retrieved 23 June 2016 – via National Library of Australia. 
  4. ^ "The Late Colonel Rowe.". Australian Town And Country Journal. LVIII, (1511). New South Wales, Australia. 21 January 1899. p. 21. Retrieved 23 June 2016 – via National Library of Australia. 
  5. ^ State Heritage Website
  6. ^ The Heritage of Australia, Macmillan Company, 1981, pp. 2/34,38,60,61,81,95,99,174,252,260
  7. ^ Hawaii for visitors
  8. ^ M Berry, A History of Colonel Thomas Rowe (B Arch thesis, UNSW, 1969)
  9. ^ "THE IMPERIAL ARCADE.". The Sydney Morning Herald (16,635). New South Wales, Australia. 17 July 1891. p. 7. Retrieved 25 October 2016 – via National Library of Australia. 
  10. ^ J M Freeland, The Making of a Profession (Syd, 1971)
  11. ^ State Heritage Register
Civic offices
New title Mayor of Manly
1877 – 1879
Succeeded by
Alfred Hilder