The Senate Room
The Senate Room on the first floor in the Quadrangle was originally the Library until 1909 when the Library relocated to the new Fisher Library (now MacLaurin Hall) and adjacent Bookstack.
On this webpage, view:
- The Library Room, 1857
- The Senate Room, 1911
- Redecoration of the Senate Room, 1938
- Refurbishment of the Senate Room 1970s
- Refurbishment of the Senate Room, 1997
- The Senate Room today
Images are courtesy of the University Secretariat unless otherwise indicated.
Click on images for enlargement.
The Senate Room today.
The bookcase which was in the original Library
and then in the Senate Room in the early 1900s,
has been restored, with two others, and all three
are now in the Room.
Between 1857 and 1909, the current Senate Room on the first floor in the Main Building was the location of the University's first Library. However, by 1879, the Library had outgrown the space allotted to it and the collection was distributed in rooms all over the Quadrangle. In 1909 the Library was relocated into the new Fisher Library (now MacLaurin Hall) and adjacent Bookstack.
The Library Room in 1887,
The Library Room in the early 1900s
Between Senate's first meetings in 1851 and the refitting of the Library Room in the Quadrangle as the Senate Room in 1911, Senate meetings were held in various external venues including:
- 1851: the Chambers of the Speaker of the NSW Legislative Council - Charles Nicholson - in Macquarie Street
- Sydney College, College Street. (Sydney College existed from 1835 to 1850. Its land and building - the Edward Hallen Building, called the Big School Room - were temporarily occupied by the newly-founded University of Sydney in 1852. In 1854 Sydney Grammar School was incorporated by Act of Parliament, acquiring the land and building in College Street and opening in 1857.)
- Selbourne Chambers in Phillip Street. (In 1896 the University of Sydney Law School moved to No. 174 Selbourne Chambers, a three-storeyed building on the site of the present Selbourne Chambers, and remained there until 1913.)
The minutes of Senate's Buildings and Grounds Committee meeting on 12 October 1909 record that instructions were given for the room heretofore used as a library to be fitted up for meetings of the Senate and Faculties, and for suitable furniture to be obtained.
The Senate Room was set up with 17 bentwood chairs and the Chancellor's ceremonial chair at the head of the table. Research into the carpet suggests that the carpet may have been a William Morris design.
Subsequent to this, the minutes of Senate first record a Senate meeting being held "at the University" on 6 February 1911, although not specifically in this room. However, Senate meetings continued to be held in Selbourne Chambers for some time after this.
Through the generosity of Mrs Mills, wife of Dr Arthur Edward Mills (Deputy Chancellor 1936 to 1939), the Senate Room was remodelled in 1938. The painting "The Blue Lady", which had been donated by Sir Charles Nicholson in 1865, was used as the key to the new colour scheme of the room.
Read the report by Stephenson & Turner, Architects.
"The Blue Lady", artist unknown,
A special meeting of the Senate
The Senate Room in the 1960s
Senate meetings moved to the old Law School in Phillip Street for several years, and relocated to the Senate Room in the 1970s.
The Room's pale blue curtains, beaten copper light fittings, linear air-conditioning grilles and pelmets, which appear in the 1980s photograph below, probably date from the 1970s.
The photos below of the Senate Room in the 1980s, as it was from the 1970s until its refurbishment in 1997, are courtesy of the University Archives:
The first Senate meeting in the newly refurbished Senate Room was held on 4 August 1997. The new furniture was donated by the Chancellor's Committee.
The southern side of Senate Room today, showing the entrance doorway.
The northern end of the Senate Room.