The building was the Sydney Sailors Home, a benevolent society formed by prominent businessmen and land owners, to cater for the accommodation of sailors on shore leave. The 1860s wing of the building is associated with prominent architect William E Kemp, who had worked in the Colonial Architects office under Edmund Blacket, Alexander Dawson and William Weaver. Although altered, the wing remains as an example of his early work undertaken whilst in private practice.
The 1920s wing is associated with architectural firm Spain and Cosh and was made possible by a private endowment from William Carrs of Carrs Park. In the 1970s the Sailors' Home vacated and the building was converted into a theatre. In 1992-3 the building was largely restored to its 1865-1900 form, with internal galleries on which originally stood 2.5-2.5m cubicles for the accommodation of sailors.