‘Greencliffe’ occupied one of the best vantage points along the harbour foreshores, immediately adjacent to the Harbour Bridge and opposite Sydney Cove. The building, with its combination of 1880s Italianate and 1920s architecture, was obvious to anyone using the harbour or walking in the vicinity. Casey & Lowe were contracted by Bruce Swalwell Architects to undertake the archaeological excavation of the property prior to the commencement of the redevelopment and before the building’s demolition. The archaeological investigation was to focus on two areas: under the floor level of the existing building, the
floorboards having been removed, concentrating on that part of the building thought to be part of the 1860s cottage; and in the north-west corner of the property where an 1860s timber building had stood. The excavation proper commenced on 28th January and ran eighteen working days until 22nd February.
Greencliffe was built in the 1860s on land first used by James Milson and until its subdivision in 1858 used for agricultural purposes. A substantial one and two storey sandstone cottage the house was one of the first in the local area. Built by a widow, Mrs Mary Paul, it was oriented south, looking over the harbour towards Sydney Cove.
The house’s subsequent history was one of radical change which has not been properly documented. Sometime between its construction c1864 and 1879, another wing was built against the eastern side of the cottage. In 1884 substantial Italianate-style additions were built around the original cottage and in the 1920s the whole building was substantially rebuilt when it was turned into flats. Although parts of the western half of the original house survived it was nearly totally enclosed within the later development. This building sequence replaces the earlier architectural analysis which judged the post 1864 extension to be the original section of the house and thought that what was actually the earlier section had been added on in the 1880s.