Tag Archives: 1880s

Irvine & Stevenson buildings (part one)

Built: 1882
Address: 186-198 George Street
Architect: John Arthur Burnside (1856-1920)
Clerk of WorksJohn Wright

An 1890s photograph by W.R. Frost. The grocery store and two other shops face George Street under the verandah. At the left of the image are the factory buildings.

‘St George’ was one of the most successful brands to come out of Dunedin, becoming a household name throughout New Zealand as well as exporting to overseas markets. Irvine & Stevenson’s St George Company produced jams, soups, tinned meat and fish, other preserved foods, and household products such as laundry crystals. In terms of buildings, it was generally associated with the old Keast & McCarthy brewery site in Filleul Street, where it operated a preserving works from 1897 to 1977. Before that, however, it was based on a site at the corner of St Andrew and George Streets, and that’s what this story is about.

In the early 1860s James Irvine owned three grocery stores in Kilsyth, near Glasgow. In 1863 he came to Dunedin with his wife, Jane, to start a new life in what was then a booming gold rush town. He opened a shop in Filleul Street, and was one of the first bacon curers in the city. The store relocated to George Street (between Hanover and St Andrew streets) around 1870.

William Stevenson was 23 years younger than James Irvine. He came out from Scotland as a boy, and at the age of 21 became a partner in the grocery firm Stevenson & Ford, which occupied one of ‘several insignificant wooden buildings’ on the corner of George and St Andrew streets. There had been a grocery store on the site since James Wallace opened for business in 1864. Immediately to its south were premises occupied by Robert Brown’s cake shop (established in 1879), and next to this was the Oddfellows’ Hall (erected in 1862). Behind these structures were brick stables, and a double cottage facing St Andrew Street.

Stevenson married Irvine’s daughter, Barbara, in 1881, and the following year the two men went into partnership as Irvine & Stevenson. They opened a temporary shop in the Southampton Buildings (now part of the Golden Centre mall) while a block of three new shops and offices was built on leasehold land occupied by the old Stevenson & Ford store, Brown’s shop, and the Oddfellows’ Hall. The architect J.A. Burnside called for tenders in April 1882, and by the following January the building was complete. Irvine & Stevenson used the corner shop as their grocery store, and beneath it was a large storage cellar. Two smaller shops fronting George Street were leased out: one of them to Robert Brown and the other to the drapers M.W. Green & Sons.

A late 1880s view, showing Irvine & Stevenson’s buildings behind the A. & T. Inglis store. They include the tall chimney stack and the building immediately to its right. Ref: Te Papa O.002091.

Constructed from brick, with a stone foundation and a slate roof, the buildings cost £2,898. An Otago Daily Times reporter wrote approvingly:

Although appearance has not been the main object in view, it must be admitted that the front elevation of the buildings displays an exceptionally neat style of architecture, and that the block is by no means the least creditable of many fine buildings in the city. It is needless to remark that the buildings are of a substantial character, while the dimensions mentioned show that they are commodious.

The architecture was loosely Renaissance Revival in style, showing some of the emerging eclecticism also apparent in James Hislop’s design for the Boot Palace (1885-1886) on the opposite corner. Features included rounded corners to the window heads, and small chimneys integrated with the St Andrew Street parapet. The incised decoration above the windows was uncommon in Dunedin with other examples from around the same time including the Coulls Culling warehouse in Crawford Street (since demolished), and the former Dowson’s building at 305 George Street. The verandah was described as one of the best in the city. It had a glazed roof, and its iron pillars and ornate fretwork were manufactured locally by Barningham & Co.

The appointed builder was Henry Martin, but he met with financial difficulty and his contract was terminated before the project was far advanced. Subsequent work was carried out through various contracts, with John Wright apparently acting as Clerk of Works. A few years before Wright had performed a similar role in the building of the Terminus Hotel, also designed by Burnside.

Behind the shops and offices, a two-storey building was erected for curing ham and bacon. It was completed a little later in 1883 and cost a further £555. Between 1886 and 1887 ‘sheds’ were demolished and replaced with a smoke house for sausages at a cost of £275. In 1888 a jam factory building and a large chimney stack were built on the site previously occupied by cottages. They were likely designed by R.A. Lawson, as company accounts shows fees paid to him in connection with the project, which cost £815.

Label for tinned boiled mutton. Ref: Alexander Turnbull Library Eph-C-MEAT-1900s-03.

Irvine & Stevenson registered their ‘St George’ trademark in 1885, and it’s possible (though perhaps unlikely) that the idea for the name was inspired by the streets where the company buildings were sited: St Andrew and George. The brand symbol was a shield containing the image St George on horseback, slaying a dragon. By 1889 the company was producing 300 cases of jam per week, with stoneware jars from Graham Winter & Co.’s Milton Pottery Works. Jam production moved to the former Peacock & Co. premises in Moray Place, soon after Irvine & Stevenson bought it as their ‘no. 2’ factory in 1891.

In 1894 the original complex was described as having 100 x 66 feet of floor space on each of its two storeys. Activities included bacon curing, sausage making, tea blending, coffee and pepper grinding, and washing powder manufacture. There was also a short-lived diversification into confectionery. The Keast & McCarthy brewery premises were acquired in 1896, and the company opened new preserving works there the following year. A freezing plant was installed with insulated rooms and compressed-air freezing machine with enormous pistons. Industrial operations in the rear buildings continued until the structures were rebuilt as shops in 1929, but I’ll leave this for further discussion in my next post.

The shop on the corner was occupied by Irvine & Stevenson’s grocery store for thirty-one years up to 1913, when the company sold it to focus on manufacturing activities. A grocery store remained on the site for another ten years, first run by McIlroy Bros, and then B.J. McArthur. In 1922 the shop and upstairs rooms were taken by the optometrists Hugh & G.K. Neill, who over time developed the complementary photography business Hugh & G.K. Neill Photographics Ltd. In 1997 Neill’s Camera & Video became Jonathan’s Camera & Video, which expanded into the shop next door. Jonathan’s Photo Warehouse remains in the middle shop today, while the corner site is once again in the hands of the optometrists Milburn & Neill (the current iteration of the old firm), who have now been based in the building continuously for over ninety years.

The corner hasn’t always been a peaceful spot. In 1892 George Street was the scene of demonstrations in support of the Saturday half-holiday movement, and one of Irvine & Stevenson’s plate glass windows was smashed. There were also demonstrations during the Great Depression, and it was at this intersection where in April 1932 protestors stopped the taxi carrying the Mayoress, Helen Black, attempting to pull her out and overturn the vehicle. She had been involved in running a relief depot where there was anger that chits for supplies were handed out rather than money orders. It was also said that there was some resentment towards Mrs Black for handing out relief wearing white gloves – a symbol of privilege. These days any altercations at this location are likely to be of the late night drunken variety.

A 1925 advertisement for Hugh & G.K. Neill reproduced from a Dunedin Choral Society programme.

A view of George Street in 1949, showing a ‘St George Jam’ neon sign on top of the building. Ref: Hocken Collections 96-106 (box 96), reproduced at builtindunedin.com courtesy of Perpetual Trust.

The middle shop was originally occupied by a succession of small draperies: M.W. Green & Sons, Carter & Co., and William McBeath, before Irvine & Stevenson put their own retail butchery in the space. For twenty years from 1910 it was occupied by the fruiterer William Carlton Ruffell, whose views on Chinese taking up his line of business reflected some of the racism in New Zealand society at the time. The Evening Post (Wellington) reported in 1920:

A deputation from the Dunedin Retail Fruiterers Association waited on the Dunedin City Council last week in reference to the Asiatic question […] Mr. H.E. Stephens said one shop had been opened in Dunedin, and they knew the Chinese were feeling for about a dozen other businesses. In the North, the trade was practically run by the Chinese. They were not desirable citizens, for they were not bound by our laws, could work as they liked, and were therefore unfair competitors. In California it was proposed to keep Asiatics from buying or holding land, and it was time something was done here. Mr W.C. Ruffell said what they really aimed at was the elimination of foreigners. They thought New Zealand should be white.

Ruffell’s shop became an outlet of Star Stores for nearly thirty years from 1930. It was then Adkins Foodmarket (1959-1973), Adams Fruit (1973-1987), and the clothing retailer Slick Willy’s (1987-2004), before Jonathan’s took it.

The southernmost shop (present no. 186) was leased by the confectioner Robert Brown in 1882 and was kept by his family for nearly seventy years. In later years it traded as Brown & Son, Brown’s Cafeteria, and Brown’s Cake Shop. It became Jordon’s Milk Bar around 1953, and photographs from the Hocken Collections show a slick American-influenced hangout of the rock ‘n roll era. It was a place where ‘milkbar cowboys’ gathered outside on Sunday afternoons (the Beau Monde was the spot on Friday nights), the coolest among them with Triumph Speed Twin and Thunderbird motorcycles. Inside, Oriental fans were a feature of the decoration. As well as traditional milkshake flavours, the Fla-va-tru range (‘America’s Latest!’) included: Blue Lagoon, Fruti Tuti, Chop Suey (can anyone enlighten me on that one?), Fruit Salad, Yankee Doodle, Smoky Joe, Nutti Cream, Butterscotch, Mint Julep, and Pink Lemonade. A wide variety of chocolates were sold, from Nestlé and Cadbury bars through to Winning Post, Caley’s Majestic, and Cadbury’s Centennial boxes. The snack bar offered spaghetti, baked beans on toast, poached eggs on toast, tomato soup and toast, and hot pies. Jordon’s closed in 1969 and was replaced by the Four Seasons Restaurant, which was in turn succeeded by Buyck’s Restaurant (1975-1980), the Pig ‘n Whistle Restaurant (1980-1982), and the Capri Coffee Lounge (1982-1987). The closure of the Capri ended the space’s role as an eatery after more than a century. Meanwhile, upstairs was dieting HQ, as Weight Watchers had their premises there for twenty years from 1976. The downstairs shop was occupied by Payless Shoes from 1987 to 1996, before the current tenant, Dollar Store 123, opened for business in 1998.

The street frontage of Jordons Milk Bar in 1957, complete with Melody Master jukebox. Ref: Hocken Collections P11-012, S14-117c. Ritchie’s Studio photograph.

The interior of Jordons Milk Bar in 1957. Ref: Hocken Collections P11-012, S14-117b. Ritchie’s Studio photograph.

Staff of Jordons Milk Bar, Yvonne third from right. Ref: Hocken Collections P11-012, S14-117a.

The property arm of Irvine & Stevenson retained a financial interest in the buildings up to 1962. The corner premises went into the ownership of Hugh & G.K. Neil, and the remainder to the Butler Family who named their portion Larent Buildings. I’m unsure why this name was chosen, as I haven’t found any obvious links between the name and the building, but it may have been because it was an investment property and ‘Larent’ is an anagram of ‘Rental’! The first floor windows in this part were replaced in 1970, giving the buildings their present lopsided appearance. The original verandah, cornice, and parapet have also been destroyed and their restoration together with the first floor windows would transform the building from its somewhat awkward and unassuming look to a striking and handsome feature of the street.

So as not to confuse things, I’ll treat the historical development of the old factory buildings separately in the next post. So, as they say:

To be continued….

A recent view

Facade detail showing incised decoration

Newspaper references:
Otago Daily Times, 22 October 1873 p.2 (James Irvine, ham and bacon), 18 January 1882 p.2 (auction of leasehold), 20 January 1883 p.2 (description of George Street buildings), 3 June 1887 p.1 (opening of pork and provision shop), 19 May 1894 supp. (description of Irvine & Stevenson premises), 27 January 1908 p.7 (freezing plant), 20 November 1919 p.10 (‘The Preserving Industry’), 8 November 2008 p.6 (‘Recalling Dunedin’s Dark Days’ by Mark Price); Evening Post (Wellington), 28 June 1920 p.6 (W.C. Ruffell)

Other references:
Irvine & Stevenson’s St George Co. Ltd records, Hocken Collections UN-016
Stevenson, Geoffrey W., The House of St George: A Centennial History 1864-1964 (Dunedin: Irvine & Stevenson’s St George Co. Ltd, [1964])
Baré, Robert, City of Dunedin Block Plans (Dunedin: Caxton Steam Printing Company, [1889])
Jones, F. Oliver, Structural Plans of the City of Dunedin NZ, ‘Ignis et Aqua’ series, [1892]
Council of Fire and Accident Underwriters’ Associations of New Zealand, block plans, 1927
Stone’s Otago and Southland Directory
Wise’s New Zealand Post Office Directory
Telephone directories
Dunedin City Council permit records and deposited plans (with thanks to Glen Hazelton)
Thanks to Allan Dick for his memories of Dunedin milk bars.

Note: some occupancy dates may be a year out either way due to reliance on annual directories.

Thomas Bedford Cameron, architect

Born: Scotland, 1836/1837
Died: Wellington, New Zealand, 8 July 1894

When T.B. Cameron arrived in Dunedin in 1878 he was already an experienced architect in his forties. He worked here for over ten years, but as Hardwicke Knight and Niel Wales tell us in Buildings of Dunedin (1988), ‘apart from the Caversham Presbyterian Church in the 1880s, little is known about him’. A few other things surface from time to time: Cameron submitted the winning entry in the design competition for the Dunedin Town Hall (though R.A. Lawson’s design was ultimately used), and earlier worked in Auckland and Victoria. His role as designer of the Queen’s Arms Hotel (now Empire Tavern) in Dunedin came to notice during the New Zealand Historic Places Trust’s registration of that building in 2012.

What follows is something of a ‘greatest hits’ summary that pulls together a little of Cameron’s story and begins the exploration of his career that is overdue. Although my focus is his Dunedin work, his Auckland career probably produced a greater number of substantial buildings and I would be very interested to hear from anyone with local knowledge or further information about the Auckland and Australian projects listed at the end of this post. Unfortunately, biographical information is elusive. If his sketchy death registration is correct, then Thomas Cameron was born in Scotland in 1836 or 1837. His parents’ names are not recorded on the document, and another blank space suggests that he never married. His middle name, Bedford, is likely a clue to his ancestry, even if he added it when he was a young man to distinguish himself from the many other Thomas Camerons running about the place.

The ‘Star’ newspaper offices (1860), Ballarat. Image: State Library of Victoria H26066, Simon & Bardwell photographers.

The synagogue at Ballarat (1861). Image: State Library of Victoria H2051, Simon & Bardwell photographers.

Former Creswick Presbyterian Church (1861). Image: J.T. Collins Collection, La Trobe Picture Collection, State Library of Victoria, H94.200/1258.

Like some of Dunedin’s other nineteenth-century architects, Cameron migrated from Britain to Victoria, where he worked for a few years before moving on to New Zealand. The earliest documentary reference I found about him was in the Ballarat Star of 13 September 1858, when ‘T.B. Cameron & Co.’ of 1 Bridge Street, called for tenders for additions and alterations to Dr James Stewart’s cottage. I don’t know who the ‘& Co’ were (if anyone), but this tag soon disappeared from Cameron’s notices. If his death record is correct then he would have been in his early twenties at this time, but this is a little difficult to reconcile with a later claim that he had ‘Long practical experience in the Home Country’. In November 1858  he ran the following advertisement:

T.B. CAMERON, Architect &c, 2 Bridge street, Main Road, opposite Humphrey’s Stationery Depot, is prepared to supply plans, specifications, &c, for cottages, shops, warehouses, &c, on the shortest notice, and to guarantee that no building when finished according to the plans will exceed the contract price.

An early project was a hotel with concert rooms in Lydiard Street, built for D. Jones in 1859. Over the next four years Cameron designed many buildings in Ballarat, and also at Creswick, sixteen kilometres to the north. These included the Ballarat Synagogue, which survives today and for which Cameron’s name is still known. Cameron designed the Star newspaper offices, Welsh chapel, Presbyterian church at Creswick, numerous two-storey commercial buildings, and private residences for John Coghill, Theophilus Williams, and others. For a year, from 1861 to 1862, Cameron served as Creswick’s Town Engineer.

In 1864 Cameron moved to Auckland, where he worked for the next thirteen years. He won the design competition for St James Presbyterian Church in Wellington Street, a large Gothic Revival timber building that stood until 1963. He also designed Presbyterian churches at Devonport and Wanganui, the latter being both constructed and destroyed (by fire) in 1868. Cameron was responsible for the design of the Star Hotel in Albert Street, built in 1865, and in 1877 he designed its redevelopment, although only the first stage was completed. Typical features of Cameron’s street elevations were round-headed windows which were relatively wide in proportion to their height. Cameron was briefly in partnership with the architect Arthur W. Burrows from 1865 to 1866.

St James’ Presbyterian Church (1864-1865), Wellington Street, Auckland. The building was demolished in 1963. Image: Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, 4-3542.

Royal Mail Hotel, Auckland. Image: James D. Richardson, Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, 4-RIC37.

The old Star Hotel in Auckland (right) and what was intended as the first portion of its replacement (left). The hotel was demolished in the early 1980s. Image: Sam Cope (1985) Star Hotel, Albert Street. Copied from postcard lent by H. Hanlon. Auckland War Memorial Museum – Tamaki Paenga Hira, M598.

The only partially realised concept for the rebuilding of the Star Hotel. Image: Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, 7-A5814.

In 1877, at the other end of the colony, a competition was held for the design of the Dunedin Town Hall, and Cameron entered an imposing classical design with corner tower under the pseudonym ‘In Haste’. In July the Town Hall Committee awarded him first place ahead of prominent local architect R.A. Lawson and seven other entrants. The committee reported that Cameron ‘conformed more nearly to the conditions of the competition than any of the other competitors; and with the exception of the arrangement of the offices for the departments, the design generally possesses considerable merit’. Lawson was appointed supervising architect in September, but as the project had to be scaled back to meet its reduced budget of £7,000, he was asked to make major alterations. The committee had admired Lawson’s front elevations, and agreed that he could adapt his own design rather than Cameron’s. The project was politically controversial, as it was argued that the Town Hall was a luxury the city could do without. Lawson’s finished building included the municipal offices and clock tower, but it would be over 50 years before a public auditorium was added.

Wood engraving of Cameron’s winning design for the Dunedin Town Hall, published in Illustrated Australian News, 3 October 1877. Image: State Library of Victoria IAN03/10/77/156.

Despite the disappointment, or perhaps in part because of it, Cameron decided to move to Dunedin in 1878. There was vigorous building activity in the city and the Town Hall competition would have brought his name to the attention of prospective clients. One of his first commissions was William Gregg’s store and coffee processing building in lower Rattray (now Fryatt) Street. In 1879 he designed two hotels (the Queen’s Arms and the Robert Burns) as well as at least two double-storey houses. Business did not go according to plan, however, as in 1879 Cameron was declared bankrupt with debts of over £600.

The W. Gregg & Co. store and coffee processing building (1878), which still stands in Fryatt Street. The round-headed windows with flanking pilasters are typical of Cameron. Image: advertisement from ‘Beautiful Dunedin’ by W.H. Fahey (1906).

The Empire (originally Queen’s Arms) Hotel in Princes Street. This image was by Hardwicke Knight around 1960, before most of the decoration was removed from the facade.

Detail showing the partially obscured facade of the Robert Burns Hotel (1879). From Hardwicke Knight’s ‘Early Dunedin Photographs’ (1984).

The early 1880s were Cameron’s most productive years in Dunedin. His designs included a three-storey terrace for Mrs Muir in Moray Place, as well as her two-storey house in View Street, and another three-storey terrace nearby for Robert Murray. There were two investment properties for Albert Dornwell, and other commercial work included shops for Denis Heenan and the Woodhaugh Hotel. One of Cameron’s grandest masonry houses was Appin, built for Angus Cameron of the Union Steam Ship Company, and he almost certainly designed Septimus Myers’ large wooden villa ‘Ivanhoe’ in North East Valley, and a similarly proportioned residence for John McCormick in Queen Street. Recurring features of Cameron’s designs from this period include prominent (usually flat) window hoods, and slender curved pilasters that sometime look a little out of proportion to the rest of the building. A few buildings featured square pilasters with circular decorations at the centre of the shafts. The Queens Arms and Robert Burns hotels were given slightly ungainly parapet decoration, but other commercial buildings were elegantly proportioned. Peter Entwisle cites Gladstone Terrace as evidence that Cameron was an erudite and accomplished designer.

Denis Heenan’ buildings in George Street, built as addition to a David Ross desogn, and recently identified as Cameron’s work by Peter Entwisle. Bold parapet ornamentation has been removed.

John McCormick’s residence (1881), Queen Street. Ornate bargeboards and gothic arches on the verandah are features of this house.

Gladstone (Moray) Terrace, Moray Place. The exterior of the building is well preserved, except that shop fronts have been put in on the ground floor.

Chicksands (1883), the residence of Mrs Amelia Muir. It was designed to complement Mrs Muir’s terrace next door.

Terrace in Moray Place (1880-1881) built for Robert Murray. The use of decorative wrought iron is striking. The building was demolished in the 1940s. Image: Te Papa O.034104. Burton Bros photographers.

Appin (1881-1882), Leith Street, on part of the site now occupied by University College. The bargeboards were again a bold feature. Image: Muir & Moodie, Cameron family papers, Hocken Collections, MS-1046/452 (S12-614).

Two-storey ‘tenement’ block at the corner of Frederick and Leith streets. The building was demolished in the 1970s. Photograph by Hardwicke Knight.

Woodhaugh Hotel (1881-1882).The original blind balustrades have been truncated, and a small corner pediment removed. The rounded corners of the first-floor windows are unusual for a Dunedin building.

The Caversham Presbyterian Church is the only church building in Dunedin I have been able to attribute to Cameron. This prominent local landmark includes Romanesque features, and was described as Norman in a newspaper report that was likely informed by the architect. These features include a broad low-pitched roof and round-headed windows. The overall impression, however, is of a free (eclectic) style, and the building also draws from Gothic influences and colonial Victorian design, while its steeple is reminiscent of the Neo-Classical designs of Sir Christopher Wren. Knight and Wales found the building charming, though with something of a wedding-cake appearance. Its unique and imaginative design give it special significance among Dunedin’s suburban church buildings. When the foundation stone was laid on 21 October 1882 the minister (Rev. Fraser) said: ‘This is supposed to be an age of culture, and an aesthetic age…Public buildings are the common property of all, and more so are the homes of the people. If this is so, what an influence for good must handsome buildings and beautiful surroundings have upon the minds of the people’.

Caversham Presbyterian Church (1882)

Caversham Presbyterian Church (1882)

If newspapers are an accurate indication, Cameron’s activity declined dramatically from 1885, and he was again bankrupted in 1886. This came with a general slump in building activity during the Long Depression, which led other architects (including R.A. Lawson) to leave Dunedin. Cameron’s later commissions here included a ‘large hall’ in Moray Place in 1888 (possibly the Palace Roller Skating Rink), and an as yet unidentified ten-room villa in 1889. In 1891 he was the successful competitor for the design of the Kaitangata Borough Council chambers, but this project appears not to have been realised.

Around 1893 Cameron moved to Wellington, and the following year he placed second in the competition to design the memorial to the late New Zealand Premier John Ballance. He kept a low public profile and one of the few things I found about him from this period was that he was a member of the Terrace Congregational Church.  After suffering from pneumonia for a week, Thomas Cameron passed away at Wellington Hospital on 8 July 1894, aged 57. Apparently leaving no family, and with no identifiable photograph of him known, his buildings must speak of his life.

Courtesy of Martina and Andrew Kelly.

Ivanhoe, North Road, North East Valley. Image courtesy of Martina and Andrew Kelly.

A recent image of Ivanhoe.

Commercial building (1885) at the corner of Moray Place and George Street. It was demolished in the early 1980s. Original parapet decoration had been removed by the time this photograph was taken by Hardwicke Knight in the 1970s. The Palladian windows are similar to the one used at Appin.

Selected works:

      • 1858. Additions and alterations to cottage for Dr James Stewart, Ballarat
      • 1859. Hotel building in Lydiard Street, Ballarat
      • 1859. Welsh Chapel, Ballarat.
      • 1859-1860. Warehouse for A.H. King, Ballarat
      • 1860. Offices for Star newspaper, Sturt Street, Ballarat
      • 1860. Warehouse for John Webster, Creswick
      • 1860. Shop and residence for Wittkowski Bros, Ballarat
      • 1860. Sexton’s lodge, Creswick New Cemetery
      • 1860. Two shops for Mr Martin, Albert Street, Creswick
      • 1860. Two brick shops for Mader Bros, Creswick
      • 1860. Chapel at Slaughterman’s Hill for Bible Christian Association
      • 1860. Two-storey brick premises for Thomas Anthony, Creswick
      • 1860. Brick shop and warehouse for Mr McLeod, Creswick
      • 1860. Two-storey brick premises for Mr Hassell, Creswick
      • 1860-1861. Brick villa for John Coghill, near Ascot
      • 1861. Stone and brick premises for Raphael Bros, Ballarat
      • 1861. Two-storey stone and brick premises for Godfrey & Abrahams, Ballarat
      • 1861. Synagogue, Ballarat*
      • 1861. Presbyterian Church (later St Andrew’s Uniting Church), Creswick*
      • 1861. Stone and brick shops for Rees & Benjamin, Sturt and Lydiard streets, Ballarat
      • 1861. Stone villa for Theophilus Williams
      • 1861. Six-roomed cottage for Dr Daniels, Creswick
      • 1861. Brick premises for Mr Dawson, Bridge Street, Ballarat
      • 1862. Premises for Hepburn & Leonard, Lydiard Street, Ballarat
      • 1862. Stone and brick premises for William Young, Soldiers Hill
      • 1863. Four two-storey shops for Mr Martin, Main Road, Ballarat
      • 1863. Presbyterian manse, Smeaton
      • 1864. Two-storey residence for J. Phillips, Onehunga
      • 1864. Music Hall for George Dalrymple, Wellesley Street, Auckland
      • 1864-1865. St James Presbyterian Church, Wellington Street, Auckland
      • 1865. Two-storey shops and residences, Wellesley Street, Auckland
      • 1865. Eight two-storey shops and residences, Grey and Pitt streets, Auckland
      • 1865. Four two-storey shops and residences, Drake Street, Auckland
      • 1865. Three storey stone and brick warehouse, Albert Street, Auckland
      • 1865. William Rattray’s building (two storeys), Shortland Street, Auckland
      • 1865. Eight two-storey buildings (shops and residences), Grey and Pitt streets, Auckland
      • 1865. Union Hotel (two-storey brick premises), Queen Street, Auckland
      • 1865, 1877. Star Hotel, Albert Street, Auckland
      • 1865-1866. Store for Dingwall, Albert Street, Auckland
      • 1866. Hotel building, O’Neill’s Point, North Shore.
      • 1867. St Paul’s Presbyterian Church, Devonport
      • 1867-1868. Presbyterian Church, Wanganui
      • 1870. Royal Mail Hotel, Victoria and Elliott streets, Auckland
      • 1873-1874. Premises for George Quick & Co., Elliott Street, Auckland
      • 1874. Shops for Greenway, High and Durham streets, Auckland
      • 1875. Block of brick buildings for Joseph Craig, Fort Street, Auckland*
      • 1876. Two-storey residence for C. Greenaway, Hobson Street, Auckland
      • 1876. Brick buildings/Post Office Hotel? in Shortland Street, Auckland (site QCE  Hotel)
      • 1876. Warehouse for T. Hartley, Durham Street, Auckland
      • 1878. W. Gregg & Co. store, Rattray Street, Dunedin*
      • 1879. Robert Burns Hotel, George Street, Dunedin*
      • 1879. Residence for Mr Copland, Peel Street, Lawrence
      • 1879. Two-storey residence in Scotland Street, Dunedin
      • 1879. Two-storey stone and brick residence, Queen Street, Dunedin
      • 1879. Queens Arms Hotel (later Empire Hotel), Princes Street, Dunedin*
      • 1880. Stone and brick shop for Denis Heenan, George Street, Dunedin.
      • 1880. Four villa residences for Lewis Lyons, Ravensbourne, Dunedin
      • 1880-1881. Two-storey premises, malthouse etc., Keast & McCarthy Dunedin Brewery
      • 1880-1881. Terrace for Amelia Muir, Moray Place, Dunedin*
      • 1880-1881. Terrace for Robert Murray, Moray Place, Dunedin
      • 1881. Residence for John McCormick, Queen Street North, Dunedin*
      • 1881-1882. Two-storey residence (Appin) for Angus Cameron, Leith Street, Dunedin
      • 1881-1882. Woodhaugh Hotel for J.R. James, Dunedin*
      • 1882. Kincaid & McQueen offices, Great King Street, Dunedin
      • 1882. Two-storey brick premises, Duke Street, Dunedin
      • 1882. Presbyterian Church, Caversham, Dunedin*
      • 1882. Two-storey tenements Frederick and Leith streets for Albert Dornwell
      • 1882. Villa residence for Captain Graham, Musselburgh, Dunedin
      • 1882. Villa residence for Mr Kilmartin, Opoho, Dunedin
      • 1882. Villa residence for Mr Keast, Maori Hill, Dunedin
      • 1883. Two-storey residence for Amelia Muir, View Street, Dunedin*
      • 1883. Main Road, South Dunedin, Mr Campbell.
      • 1884. Two-storey brick tenements, George Street, Dunedin
      • 1884. Nine-room residence, St Clair, Dunedin
      • 1885. Brick shops (two stories) for Albert Dornwell, George Street, Dunedin*
      • 1885. Brick shops (two stories), George Street and Moray Place, Dunedin
      • c.1885. Ivanhoe (Myers residence), North Road, North East Valley, Dunedin
      • 1886. Reinstatement of villa residence for Walter Guthrie, Manor Place, Dunedin
      • 1888. Large hall, Moray Place, Dunedin
      • 1888. Brick residence, Walker Street, Dunedin

*indicates buildings still standing

Newspaper references:
Newspapers consulted through Trove, Paper Past, and microfilm, were the Star (Ballarat), Daily Southern Cross (Auckland), New Zealand Herald (Auckland), Otago Daily Times (Dunedin), Otago Witness (Dunedin), Evening Star (Dunedin), Tuapeka Times (Lawrence), and Evening Post (Wellington). There are too many individual references to list here, but feel free to request specific information.

Other references:
Baré, Robert, City of Dunedin Block Plans (Dunedin: Caxton Steam Printing Company, [1889])
Jones, F. Oliver, Structural Plans of the City of Dunedin NZ, ‘Ignis et Aqua’ series, [1892]
Stone’s Otago and Southland Directory
Wise’s New Zealand Post Office Directory
‘Caversham Presbyterian Church, 61 Thorn Street, Dunedin’. New Zealand Historic Place Trust registration record (1996) retrieved 14 February 2014 from http://www.historic.org.nz/TheRegister/RegisterSearch/RegisterResults.aspx?RID=7319
Bauchop, Heather. ‘Empire Hotel, 396 Princes Street, Dunedin’. New Zealand Historic Place Trust registration record  (2012) retrieved 14 February 2014 from http://www.historic.org.nz/TheRegister/RegisterSearch/RegisterResults.aspx?RID=9548#
Entwisle, Peter. Draft report B133 (312-314 George Street), Dunedin City Council Heritage Schedule Review, 2013.
Entwisle, Peter. Draft report B404 (Moray Terrace), Dunedin City Council Heritage Schedule Review, 2012.
Knight, Hardwicke and Niel Wales. Buildings of Victorian Dunedin: An Illustrated Guide to New Zealand’s Victorian City  (Dunedin: McIndoe, 1988).
Trotter, Oive. Dunedin’s Crowning Glory: The Town Clock Tower (Dunedin: the author, 1994)

Union Steam Ship Company offices

Built: 1882-1883
Address: 49 Water Street
Architect: David Ross (1828-1908)
Builders: Bateman & Stait

The office building as it appeared in the 1880s, with the store building adjoining it at the left rear. Image: Burton Brothers, Hocken Collections S10-221c.

The Union Steam Ship Company was a giant of colonial commerce. It became both the largest shipping company in the southern hemisphere and the largest private employer in New Zealand. Established by James Mills in Dunedin in 1875, it grew out of a shipping business started by John Jones and later managed by Mills. By 1882 it operated coastal and inter-colonial shipping routes, with a fleet of twenty-one steamers and a further four on order. At this time its head office was at the corner of Liverpool and Bond streets.

Flag of the Union Steam Ship Company. Image: Museum of Wellington City and Sea 2005.4970.90.

Flag of the Union Steam Ship Company. Image: Museum of Wellington City and Sea 2005.4970.90.

In September 1882 the company appointed prominent local architect David Ross to design a new office building and adjoining store, to be built on recently reclaimed Harbour Board land fronting Water Street. The following month the contract for construction was awarded to Bateman & Stait, who submitted the lowest tender of £6,526 (less £375 if minarets and parapets were left off). Although this was a large sum for a Dunedin building, it was modest compared with the cost of a ship. the company’s two largest new ships of 1883 (the Tarawera and the Hauroto) each cost over £60,000. The building project took approximately a year to complete and was finished around November 1883.

Detail cropped from Muir & Moodie photograph. Image: Te Papa C.012197.

Detail cropped from Muir & Moodie photograph. Image: Te Papa C.012197.

Detail cropped from Muir & Moodie photograph. Image: Te Papa C.012197.

The main building was brick, rendered in cement plaster, with concrete foundations and a half-sunk Port Chalmers stone basement that rose six feet above the footpath. The roof was slate. Elaborately decorated elevations were described in the Otago Daily Times as ‘tasteful, although anything but gaudy’, and it was reported that ‘in point of external appearance the structure will not be rivalled by any other of its kind in the city’. The style was essentially Renaissance Revival (‘modern Italian’), but the fanciful roofline featured an array of minarets that probably drew from English Tudor models, and a square-based dome was suggestive of the French Second Empire style. Some proposed decorative details, ‘an emblematic design (globe, anchor, cable &c.) enclosing a clock’, were not finished as intended.

Ross had spent time in both France and the United States a few years before, and what he saw there likely influenced the design, which was a departure from his earlier work. While the building was still under construction he won the competition for the design of the Auckland Harbour Board offices with a strikingly similar composition.

That looks familiar! David Ross also designed the Auckland Harbour Board offices in Quay Street, Auckland (1883). Its exterior decoration was removed in 1958 and the building was demolished in 1969. Image: Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, 1-W890.

The Tarawera, one of the large new vessels which entered service for the Union Company in 1883. Image: John Dickie, Alexander Turnbull Library 1/2-031815-G http://natlib.govt.nz/records/23208710

The Tarawera, one of the large new vessels which entered service for the Union Company in 1883. It cost £61,000 to build and was 2,003 gross tons. Image: John Dickie, Alexander Turnbull Library 1/2-031815-G http://natlib.govt.nz/records/23208710

The neighbouring store building fronting Cumberland Street had a simpler but complementary design and the combined height of its four storeys were the same as the three storeys of the offices. The store included a hydraulic goods lift at one corner and the building reportedly contained ‘every convenience for the reception and despatch of the various materials needed on board the Company’s steamers’. The top storey of the office portion was also initially used as storage space. On the lower floors were counters, desks and other carved timber fittings of polished cedar and walnut. The large shipping hall on the ground floor (22 x 32 feet) featured parquet flooring and handsome cornices, and the vestibule was paved with Minton tiles and had iron gates. On the same level were also a smoking room for visiting ship captains, a reading room (with ‘all the principal Colonial journals’), a telephone room (for that relatively newfangled invention), the Engineer’s Office, and other staff offices. The first floor included the board room, James Mills’ own office, the deputy manager’s office, and the bookkeeping department. Heating was by F.H. Asbury’s low-pressure steam system, and there were also open fireplaces in some rooms.

The building remained the head office of the Union Steam Ship Company from 1883 to 1921. The company’s headquarters then transferred to Wellington and the Water Street building was used by the Dunedin branch office, which only needed the ground floor. Meanwhile, on the corner diagonally opposite, the National Mortgage and Agency Company had outgrown its premises, so in 1929 the Union Company and the NMA came to an arrangement to exchange buildings. The two firms had a long association, and had mutual directors for some years.

Established in 1864, the NMA was a stock and station company that became the second largest wool broker in New Zealand. The company’s historian, Gordon Parry, described its fortunes in the interwar years: ‘Bemused by topsy-turvy trading conditions and unpredictable price fluctuations, the National Mortgage bounced through the troublesome time of the late 20s and into the threatening 30s rather like one of its staff members following a narrow sheep trail in a poorly sprung runabout’.

The outward appearance of the building changed little in its first decade of NMA ownership, the few alterations including new signage and lettering (for example ‘USSCo’ was changed to ‘NMACo’’ on the basement grilles). In 1940, however, it underwent a major transformation. Most of the building’s original exterior decoration was destroyed in remodelling designed by architects Mandeno & Fraser (the specification is initialled Mandeno) and carried out by W.H. Naylor Ltd. Such facelifts were common in Dunedin at the time, influenced by fashion and iconoclasm, and often triggered by maintenance issues such as crumbling masonry. Existing masonry was bolstered back or filled in, and surfaces replastered in a fashionable quasi-Art Deco style, with restrained decoration and contrasting colour effects. The end result didn’t look quite like a twentieth century building, as the overall proportions and most of the windows were unchanged. The stone basement was not altered and the grand entrance doors were also retained.

The building at the time of the NMA centennial celebrations in 1964. Image: Hocken Collections S10-221e.

The building in 2010, prior to redevelopment.

The building in 2013, after redevelopment.

NMA moved its head office to Wellington in 1970 and the Dunedin building became a branch office. The company merged with Wright Stephenson & Co. in 1972 and the new company (Wrightson NMA) vacated the Water Street premises in 1977. The building was renamed Vogel House and during the 1980s and 1990s it was used as a rehearsal venue for bands and other musicians. The Dunedin Sound group The Chills had a space on the south of the first floor and recorded their single Doledrums there in 1984. Other groups that rehearsed in the building included the Kaftans, the Moomins, and Jim’s Live Deer Recovery. The building was later the venue of a two-week squat installation by artist Georgiana Morrison (1995) and the show ‘Dereliction’ by Kim Pieters (1996).

Steve Macknight’s NMA Properties Ltd redeveloped the building between 2010 and 2012. The exterior was renovated to approximately its 1940 appearance, one of the exceptions from this being the addition of a slightly incongruous cornice at parapet level. Paint was stripped from the stonework and plasterwork, and the latter was restored to a beautifully warm and complex colouring. Few of the original interior features had survived earlier alterations, however, remnants of plaster cornices and entrance features were retained. Brick walls and roof structures were exposed, making the most of surviving historic fabric. Major earthquake strengthening (to 67% of the new building standard) included new poured concrete floors and tying back of walls. The redevelopment was granted $20,000 from the Dunedin Heritage Fund in 2010 and won the 2013 Dunedin Heritage Re-Use Award. Current tenants include Wine Freedom and Psychology Associates.

It is a pity that the building is not the spectacular example of Victorian exuberance it once was, but this in no way diminishes its significance as a rich site of cultural and economic history. Historian Gavin McLean describes it as ‘New Zealand’s most important office building’. I nominated it as an historic place to the New Zealand Historic Places Trust in 2010 and it is yet to be assessed, but thanks to the work of enthusiastic local developers its future looks good, and it is once more an attractive and widely appreciated part of Dunedin’s Warehouse Precinct.

The main entrance, including original doors.

Original basement stonework and grille.

Newspaper references:
Otago Daily Times, 10 September 1883 p.4 (description), 28 July 1977 p.11-18 (removal of Wrightson NMA); Evening Post (Wellington), 6 March 1929 p.8 (building exchange).

Other references:
Baré, Robert. City of Dunedin Block Plans (Dunedin: Caxton Steam Printing Company, 1889).
Stone’s Otago and Southland Directory
Wise’s New Zealand Post Office Directory
Telephone directories
‘A Citizen’ [John Bathgate]. An Illustrated Guide to Dunedin and its Industries (Dunedin: Fergusson & Mitchell, 1883), pp.140-142.
McLean, Gavin. 100 Historic Places in New Zealand (Auckland: Hodder Moa Beckett, 2002), pp.122-123.
Parry, Gordon. NMA: The story of the first 100 years: The National Mortgage and Agency Company of New Zealand Ltd 1864-1964 (London and Dunedin: NMA. 1964).
Minutes. Union Steam Ship Company records, Hocken Collections AG-292-3/1/2
Tabulated abstracts of accounts. Union Steam Ship Company records, Hocken Collections AG-292-7/9/1
Mandeno & Fraser specification for 1940 remodelling (with thanks to Oakley Gray architects)
Dunedin City Council permit records and deposited plans (with thanks to Glen Hazelton)
Information about band rehearsals in the building supplied by James Dignan.

Facade detail.

View across the intersection of Water and Vogel streets.

City Boot Palace

Built: 1885-1886
Address: 202-206 George Street
Architect: James Hislop (1859-1904)
Builder: Arthur White

Advertisement from supplement of the ‘Evening Star’, 10 April 1893. Ref: Eph-E-BUILDINGS-Dunedin-1893-01. Alexander Turnbull Library http://natlib.govt.nz/records/23156921.

The City Boot Palace! The name conjures up images of a vast array of footwear in a setting of Victorian opulence, perhaps presided over by some magnificently moustachioed manager. It may not have been quite like that, but Dunedin’s Boot Palace did have an air of grandeur which set it apart from most George Street buildings of the 1880s.

The building was erected for Benjamin Throp (1845-1933), a dentist who occupied the upstairs rooms and leased out the lower level. Born in Halifax, Yorkshire, Throp arrived in Dunedin with his mother in 1861 and qualified as a dentist in 1868. In the early days he used only hand instruments, and his equipment and supplies had to be imported from England and the United States, often taking over a year to arrive. Up to 1900 the only anaesthetic he used was cocaine, and he later produced his own nitrous oxide (laughing gas). He also made his own gold plate, having worked as a goldsmith during his youth in Australia. Throp’s meticulous notes held in the Hocken Collections record that he made 37,162 extractions over 37 years.

One day, when fitting the gold mining entrepreneur Alex McGeorge with some false teeth, Throp was offered a partnership in the Electric Gold Dredging Company. This proved to be a lucrative venture that ultimately netted him between £20,000 and £30,000. He retired in 1905 to take up farming at Moa Flat Estate, but his son Frank Throp continued the dental practice at the same address until 1942. Two other sons were killed in action during the First World War. Another dentist, Andrew Aitken, kept the rooms up to 1958, and during this period the building remained in the ownership of the Throp family.

Architect James Hislop designed the building, which was erected on the site of the old Dornwell & Rennie butchery. Tenders were called in June 1885. The contractor was Arthur White and the cost approximately £2,800, but White went bankrupt during the course of the contract because his tender had been too low and he found he couldn’t afford to pay all of the creditors connected with the work.

The building has a foundation of Port Chalmers stone that rises above the footpath, and the two storeys over this are constructed of brick rendered with cement plaster. An abundance of ornamentation includes pairs of Corinthian pilasters, arched and triangular hoods, rustication, and more mouldings than you can shake a stick at. Originally, there was a bold and elaborate parapet with balustrades and pediments that balanced the composition. A pillared verandah for the George Street shop front featured decorative cast ironwork. The overall effect was more ostentatious than elegant, but the building made a confident statement on the busy corner site. It is a good example of the later phase of Victorian Renaissance Revival architecture, which in its more florid forms drew from increasingly eclectic influences combined in unconventional ways. Hislop provided a further example of this movement a few years later when he designed the New Zealand and South Seas Exhibition buildings of 1889 in a flamboyant quasi-Moorish style.

The Evening Star published a description in January 1886:

Among the new buildings which are being erected in the City, that designed by Mr James Hislop for Mr Throp, and situated at the corner of George und St Andrew streets, is deserving of description. It has two storeys, and is of Italian design. Constructed of Port Chalmers stone and brick, with cement, it presents a very fine appearance. The exterior of the building is, however, more than equalled by its internal disposition and finish, and its novel and chaste fittings do credit to all concerned. In the lower portion of the building a boot business is to be carried on, the apartments in the upper storey being utilised by Mr Throp in his profession as a dentist. The building has a frontage of 75ft to St Andrew street, and of 23ft 6in to George street, and its height from footpath to parapet is 38ft. The shop fronting George street is 40ft x 23ft 6in by 14ft 6in high, and a show-room behind this is 36ft x 22ft. The latter has a tiled floor and hand-painted windows, and, with the shop, is fitted up in a most picturesque style. Over the footpath in front of the shop there is a cast-iron verandah, roofed almost entirely with glass, and on the corner of the two streets stands a novel pediment containing the name of the premises, ‘The City Boot Palace.’ Three plate-class windows, 7ft6in x 12ft, which give light to the shop, are probably the largest containing one piece of glass in the City. The exterior of the shop is in picked red pine and American walnut. The first floor is approached from St Andrew street, and the entrance vestibule belonging to it is neatly tiled. At the top of the stairs there is a lantern light of especially neat design, and the different apartments are lighted with hand-painted windows. The nine rooms which are contained in the floor are all cemented and decorated with stencillings and paintings, which reflect infinite credit on Mr Scott, who had charge of this department of work. The rooms are all 12ft 6in high, and, with their tiled hearths, over-mantles, dadoes, etc., are most luxurious looking. Special attention has been paid to the ventilating of the building, and the system which Mr Hislop has worked upon cannot fail to be attended with beneficial results. An ingenious piece of mechanism in connection with the building is an electric bell, which rings as anyone ascends the stairs leading to Mr Throp’s apartment. It is worked by two steps as they are trod upon, and the mechanism is so arranged as to be temporarily thrown out of gear by anyone descending the stairs. If Mr Throp is to be visited by burglars, this little device may come in useful in more ways than one. This building has been in course of erection since July, and will be finished in a week or two.

Advertisement from the Otago Witness, 20 February 1907 p.84. Image from Papers Past, National Library of New Zealand.

Otago Witness, 10 June 1908 p.92. Image from Papers Past, National Library of New Zealand.

Throp took occupation of his rooms around the beginning of March 1886 , and the Boot Palace opened soon after. The City Boot Palace had been established in 1883, when it succeeded the business of the boot maker John Elliott. The same name was used elsewhere in Australasia: John Hunter’s City Boot Palace in Sydney opened in 1877, and both branches and separate businesses with the name operated in centres that included Adelaide (opened 1882), Brisbane (1888), Perth (1893), and Hobart (1906). In New Zealand there were boot palaces in cities and towns that included Timaru (opened 1885), Invercargill (1885), Oamaru (1886), Napier (1893), New Plymouth (1903), and Christchurch (1906). The name became almost generic and although there may have been some sort of licence or franchise agreement, the New Zealand boot palaces appear to have been independent businesses. The Dunedin manager from 1885 to 1908 was Joseph McLoy McKay, who in the Edwardian period ran humorous advertisements such as the one above, which emphasises the bargain prices and good value of the merchandise. Some featured the character ‘Parsimonious Sam’, whose penny pinching ways were satisfied by the deals to be had at the City Boot Palace, suggesting that they should be good enough for anyone.

The building in 1949, during its days as ‘Fashion Corner’. Perpetual Trustees records, Hocken Collections, S13-583b.

An evocative depiction of the intersection: ‘Street corner’ by Ralph Miller, conté and wash c.1945-1955. Reproduced by kind permission of Brian Miller.

A wartime advertisement for Fashion Corner from Otago Daily Times, 4 July 1944 p.3.

The boot palace ran for over 40 years and eventually vacated the building in 1929. It was then fitted with new shop fronts with mahogany facings and granite, and a new steel hanging verandah. The alterations were designed by the architects Mandeno & Fraser, and the contractors were the Love Construction Company. The women’s clothing store Fashion Corner opened for business in December 1929. It operated until 1958, when the ANZ Bank took the building as a branch office. It was around this time that the parapet ornamentation was destroyed and the St Andrew Street entrance moved. Old interior features have also disappeared through numerous renovations.

In 1983 the architects Salmond & Burt drew up plans for a new bank building on the site, but the scheme was abandoned. After nearly 40 years the ANZ consolidated on a new site in 1997. The ground floor is now occupied by the clothing retailers Jay Jays, making it once again a ‘fashion corner’. Most of the external character remains intact, and with some restoration perhaps the building will one day reiterate the vivacious statement it once made on this busy retail corner.

Newspaper references:
Otago Witness, 21 July 1883 p.29 (J. Elliott at 75 George St), 6 March 1886 p.16 (Throp’s new premises); Otago Daily Times, 30 May 1885 p.3 (Boot Palace business sold by Hislop), 1 April 1886 p.2 (Boot Palace in ‘new premises’), 21 April 1886 p.4 (Arthur White insolvency), 26 November 1889 p.6 (Hislop named as architect); Evening Star 5 June 1885 p.1 (call for tenders for removal of old buildings), 11 June 1885 p.1 (call for tenders for construction);30 January 1886 p.2 (description), 10 December 1929 p.5 (description of alterations).

Other references:
Baré, Robert, City of Dunedin Block Plans (Dunedin: Caxton Steam Printing Company, [1889])
Jones, F. Oliver, Structural Plans of the City of Dunedin NZ, ‘Ignis et Aqua’ series, [1892]
Council of Fire and Accident Underwriters’ Associations of New Zealand, block plans, 1927
Stone’s Otago and Southland Directory
Wise’s New Zealand Post Office Directory
Telephone directories
New Zealand Dental Journal, vol. 58 (1962) pp.88-89; vol. 76 (1980) pp.137-188
Sinclair, R.S.M. Kawarau Gold (Dunedin: Whitcombe & Tombs printers, 1962), pp.44-45.
Throp, Benjamin: Dental practice records book. Hocken Collections Misc-MS-0871.
Entwisle, Peter. Draft report DDPL110-35, Dunedin City Council Heritage Schedule Review (and further discussion with the writer).

Otago Harbour Board offices

Built: 1884 (remodelled 1936)
Address: 43 Jetty Street
Architect: F.W. Petre (1847-1918)
Builder: James Small

The Otago Harbour Board probably spent more money on construction and development than any other body in 1880s Otago, but they were quite frugal when it came to their office buildings. The Victoria Channel in the Otago Harbour cost hundreds of thousands of pounds to develop, but when the Board commissioned architect F.W. Petre to design new offices in March 1884, it was with the brief that the cost should be no more than £2,000.

The Board had been constituted in 1874, succeeding the Harbour Department of the Provincial Government. Its first purpose-built offices were erected in Cumberland Street in 1877 and demolished in 1885 because they impeded the completion of street realignment. The land selected for replacement offices at the corner of Jetty and Vogel streets was owned by the Board and had been reclaimed in works carried out in the late 1870s.

Francis William Petre (1847-1948) may have been the first New Zealand-born architect, and he earned the nickname ‘Lord Concrete’ for his innovations and many designs in that material. His best-known works included the Catholic cathedrals of Dunedin and Christchurch, and the Dominican Priory in Smith Street. His surviving commercial buildings are scarce, but include the Guardian Royal Exchange Buildings and Mansfield Apartments (both in Liverpool Street). Petre was at home working in both Classical and Gothic styles, but for the Harbour Board he used the Renaissance Revival (Italian) style generally favoured for commercial designs. The proportions and rhythm of the building (including arched windows to both floors) foreshadow his later design for the Equitable Insurance Building (Phoenix House). This more elaborate stone and brick building was erected between 1886 and 1887 on the corner of Rattray and Vogel streets, and shared with the Harbour Board offices the same builder and clerk of works.

Francis William Petre, architect.

Tenders for construction were called in May 1884 and James Small’s tender for £2,239 was accepted subject to ‘reduced cornices’. By December the building was close enough to completion for the Board to hold its first meeting in the new boardroom, and the final cost was recorded in their hefty ledger (now held in the Hocken Collections) as £2,590. The demand for reduced cornices is the likely reason that the proportions of the building were not entirely convincing, with the parapet looking a little mean in relation to the rest of the elevations. A small parapet pediment highlighted the main entrance on Vogel Street, but this entrance was later moved to Jetty Street, reorientating the building. The depth of the building was narrow, with the footprint being a U shape (almost an L shape) that left space for a small yard behind. This allowed valuable natural light to penetrate through windows in the rear wall, but the yard was progressively built over by later owners from about 1923 onwards.

The Harbour Board occupied the building from 1884 to 1899, when it considered such weighty issues as a proposed harbour bridge (a hot topic for some years), the strike of 1890, the construction of large new wharves, and the retrenchment that came with the long depression. In 1899 the Board’s offices moved to modest new premises and these were in turn replaced in 1912. Occupants of the Jetty Street buildings after 1899 included the Government Shipping Office, and the grain and seed merchants Ronaldson & Farquharson.

The building c.1935. The principal entrance is no longer in its original location, having been removed from the central bay facing Vogel Street to one of the bays in Jetty Street. (Toitū/Otago Settlers Museum 80-30-1)

The building after its 1936 remodelling. The old slate roof and chimneys remained in place. The entrance was again moved, this time to the far end of the Jetty Street frontage. It has a striking leadlight window. (Toitū/Otago Settlers Museum 80-27-1)

From 1923 to 1974 the building was the head office of Donald Reid & Co., one of Otago’s largest stock and station agencies.  The company’s offices had previously been in their nearby wool and grain store in Vogel Street.  Extensive interior and exterior remodelling in the Art Deco style was designed by the architects Stone & Sturmer in 1936. The following year the same architects designed a large new wool store for Reid’s in Parry Street. Architect Gorton R. Stone had travelled with a firm representative in Australia investigating store design, and appears to have been the partner that Reid’s principally dealt with.

The remodelling of Victorian buildings in Art Deco and emerging modernist styles was popular in Dunedin from the early 1930s onwards. Stone & Sturmer were also responsible for redesigns of the Masonic Hotel (Angus Motors), Royal Albert Hotel, and Bell Hill House. Mandeno & Fraser’s revamp of the Manchester Unity Chambers was another early example. 43 Jetty Street building still reads as a Victorian design due to the retention of most of the original fenestration and glazing. The rhythm of the longer facade with its bays and arches is a pared back version of what existed previously,  although new decorative elements were introduced through stepped mouldings and horizontal grooves. A new ground floor entrance across two bays incorporated large leadlight windows, and leadlights were also a prominent feature of the interior. The name ‘Donald Reid & Company Limited’  was added at parapet level in Art Deco lettering (this survives beneath hoardings).  Two bays on Vogel Street were replaced with utilitarian plastering and glazing (lavatories and services were moved to this location). The Love Construction Company was awarded the contract for the work (after submitting the low tender of £2,555) and exterior plastering was carried out by W. Ashton & Sons (£250).

In 1974 the offices of Donald Reid & Co. moved to 1 Vogel Street. Later occupants of their old premises included the photographer Ross Coombes. The Vogel street facade was again altered in 1976 when the former central bay was extensively altered with a large roller door put in at ground floor level and ‘Brownbuilt’ cladding installed above. Large hoardings at parapet level advertised Woodstock Furniture for many years, gradually losing letters like the Sunshine Foods sign in The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin (for those who know their seventies sitcoms).

In recent years the building has looked tired and rundown, but In October 2012 its owners received a $10,000 grant from the Dunedin Heritage Fund towards earthquake strengthening and adaptive re-use. It looks as though its next chapter will be a brighter one, and it will be interesting how the unusual layout is reworked, and if the exterior is closely returned to its 1880s or 1930s appearance. It is one of the earliest Vogel Street buildings, on a key corner site, and could become one of the gems of the Warehouse Precinct rejuvenation.

Newspaper references:
Otago Daily Times, 16 May 1884 p.4 (plans accepted), 3 December 1884 p.4 (meeting in new offices), 12 May 1886 p.4 (Equitable Insurance).

Other references:
Baré, Robert, City of Dunedin Block Plans (Dunedin: Caxton Steam Printing Company, [1889])
Jones, F. Oliver, Structural Plans of the City of Dunedin NZ, ‘Ignis et Aqua’ series, [1892]
Council of Fire and Accident Underwriters’ Associations of New Zealand, block plans, 1927
Stone’s Otago and Southland Directory
Wise’s New Zealand Post Office Directory
Telephone directories
Minute book, Otago Harbour Board records, Hocken Collections (AG-200-11/02/06)
Ledger, Otago Harbour Board records, Hocken Collections (AG-200-11/13/02)
Minutes. Reid Farmers records, Hocken Collections (00-121)
Dunedin City Council permit records and deposited plans (with thanks to Glen Hazelton)
Angus, John H. Donald Reid Otago Farmers Ltd : a history of service to the farming community of Otago (Dunedin, 1978).

Hogg, Howison, Nicol & Co. Building

Built: 1881
Address: 19 Vogel Street
Architect: Robert Forrest (c.1832-1919)
Builders: King & Co. (bricklaying), John Blackie (carpentry)

The building as it appeared in the first decade of the twentieth century, when it was occupied by Paterson & Barr

Vogel Street is home to some of Dunedin’s most substantial Victorian warehouses. This one, which has frontages to both Vogel and Cumberland streets, was built for the importing and general merchants Hogg, Howison, Nicol & Co. The firm had recently succeeded Hogg & Hutton, who traded as grocers in Dunedin from 1863, and the partners were James Hogg, Charles Macandrew Howison, and Lancelot Douglas Nicol. The building site was only formed after 1879, when a large-scale harbour reclamation project began. Being handy to the harbour, railway, and central business district, the newly formed Vogel Street was a logical location for large commercial warehouses. It extended an established precinct of similar warehouses centred around Crawford and Bond streets, the latter having been named after the bonded warehouses that sprang up there twenty years before.

Tenders for the construction work were called in May 1881, and the building was complete by the following January. It was a three-storey structure, not including the concrete cellar and an attic level. Because of the poor quality of the land, the foundation was laid on a system of planking, with ‘a wall of concrete three feet in depth, surmounted by Port Chalmers stone, laid right round in inverted arches, in order to equalise the weight on the foundations by throwing it on the piers’. Above the ground floor the walls were built from 250,000 bricks, and arched throughout. Strong kauri storey posts ran right through from the cellar, carrying cross-beams fourteen inches by ten inches which took the floor joists.

Stores were spread over three levels with an entrance on Cumberland Street and a lift capable of raising loads of up to 1,500kg at a time. They housed the firm’s imported goods, which included tea, tobacco, sauces, hardware, guano fertiliser, and many other things. The office entrance was on Vogel Street, and the first floor included separate rooms for each partner of the firm, a general office for about eight clerks, and a room for commercial travellers connected with the firm. The office partitions were kauri and cedar, with glass on the upper part. An impressive counter was framed in cedar with sunk panels of plain kauri, raised panels of mottled kauri, and fitted with mouldings in rewarewa (New Zealand honeysuckle).

Robert Forrest designed the building, which was one of his earlier works after he gave up being a building contractor to become a full-time architect. King and Co. were the contractors for the bricklaying, and John Blackie for the carpentry work. The Vogel Street and Cumberland Street facades were essentially identical. Renaissance Revival was the style used for their design, which included pilasters, quoining, a bold cornice, and a high parapet and pediment (with volutes and acroteria) which masked the gable ends of the roof structure. Each facade was cemented and tuck-pointed, ‘to give it a lighter appearance’.

Detail from an 1885 view, showing the Vogel Street frontage before the erection of buildings on the south side. The Union Steam Ship Company head office is the prominent building at the centre, and the large Donald Reid stores can be seen at the right. (Toitu / Otago Settlers Museum 57-121-1)

Guano advertisement from the Bruce Herald, 24 October 1893 p.3 (Papers Past, National Library of New Zealand)

James Hogg (c.1839-1903), senior partner of Hogg, Howison, Nicol & Co.

A second building, immediately to the south, was erected for Hogg Howison between 1887 and 1888, and let to the Mutual Agency Company of New Zealand. Its design closely resembled the first building, the most obvious difference being that the outer bays of the first and second floor facades were given pairs of windows rather than single ones. It was later occupied by Remshardt & Co. (wool, skin, and hide merchants), and later still by Milne Bremner Ltd (wholesale wine, spirit, and grocery merchants). It survives, but its facades were stripped of decoration in the 1940s and it is no longer the close match with its neighbour that it once was. Between 2006 and 2008 the Milne Bremner Building was redeveloped and strengthened to a high standard by Adrian Thompson and his company Hyperstella.

View from Cumberland Street showing the Milne Bremner Building when it was occupied by Remshardt & Co. The facades of the two buildings were very similar but not identical.

Hogg, Howison, Nicol & Co. wound up in 1895, and their building was taken by Scoular Bros & Co. (importers) from 1896 to 1900. From 1903 to 1938 it was owned and occupied by Paterson & Barr Ltd, ironmongers and hardware merchants. They soon built an iron yard and store for heavy goods on the half section immediately to the north, and in 1929 they commissioned the architect W.H. Dunning to design a second three-storey warehouse for that site, to work as an extension. Tenders were called in December 1929 and Thomas Ferguson was awarded the contract. The brickwork and mouldings of Dunning’s design suggest something transitioning from the so-called ‘Queen Anne’ style, which was really eclectic rather than characterised by the architecture of Anne’s reign. The glazing has a more modern aesthetic.

Paterson & Barr moved to High Street in 1938, where they continued to trade into the 1980s. The tyre and rubber merchants E.W. Pidgeon & Co. occupied a portion of the Vogel Street building from 1938 to 1962. A large fire in 1942 gutted the upper part, which included the softgoods factory of J.W. Bradley and its fifty workers. It may have been after the fire that the prominent cornices, gable ends, and elaborate parapet ornamentation were removed, and the tuck-pointed brickwork to the facades rendered. These features are not present in an aerial photograph dated September 1946.

From 1952 to 1989 the buildings were home to the Dunedin Working Men’s Club. Established in 1938, this was a social club which had a bar and provided facilities for darts, snooker, pool, indoor bowls, and table tennis. In 1976 the club boasted a membership of over 1,800. It admitted women from 1980 and in 1989 it changed its name to the Dunedin Metropolitan Club and moved to Melville Street.

The building is looking rather scruffy these days, but hopefully it will play an important part in the revitalisation of Vogel Street that has included the recent sympathetic redevelopment of the nearby NMA and Donald Reid buildings.

Detail on Vogel Street

Vogel Street frontage, with the 1929 building on the left

Cumberland Street frontage

Newspaper references:
Otago Daily Times, 18 April 1881 p.4 (tenders for bricks), 6 May 1881 p.4 (tenders for foundations and construction), 10 January 1882 p.2 (description on completion), 3 February 1887 p.3 (fire), 25 August 1942 p.2 (fire), 28 August 1942 p.4 (fire), 22 December 1976 p.16 (history and description of Dunedin Working Men’s Club), 10 March 1989 p.3 (admission of women), 28 February 1989 p.5 (name change and removal of club to new premises); Evening Star, 3 December 1929 p.2 (call for tenders), 7 January 1930 p.2 (contract to Ferguson)

Other references:
Cyclopedia of New Zealand, vol.4 (Otago and Southland Provincial Districts), 1905.
Baré, Robert, City of Dunedin Block Plans Dunedin: Caxton Steam Printing Company, [1889].
Jones, F. Oliver, Structural Plans of the City of Dunedin NZ, ‘Ignis et Aqua’ series, [1892].
Stone’s Otago and Southland Directory
Wise’s New Zealand Post Office Directory
Telephone directories
Dunedin City Council permit and rates records

Louis Boldini, architect

Born: Ferrara, Italy, 9 April 1832
Died: Maldon, Victoria, Australia, 12 October 1908

While researching the Dunedin musician Raffaello Squarise ten years ago, I became intrigued by another Italian who featured large in Dunedin’s cultural history. Hardwicke Knight and Niel Wales had said that virtually nothing was known of him, apart from some major contributions he made to the city’s architecture. Peter Entwisle also lamented that so little was known, and through his ‘Art Beat’ column in the Otago Daily Times shared some new information I uncovered. I’ve been occasionally digging around ever since.

In the thirteen years he lived in Dunedin, Boldini gave the city some of its richest and most exuberant pieces of architecture. In the 1880s there were fewer than two dozen Italian-born people living here, and Boldini was the only Continental European architect in a profession that was dominated by Scotsmen and Englishmen, and only beginning to add the sons of colonists to its ranks. Many of these architects designed in the Renaissance Revival manner, but Boldini’s personal style had what Entwisle nicely describes as a ‘distinctively continental stamp’.

Luigi Boldini was born in Ferrara, where his father Antonio (1798-1872), was an artist known for painting religious subjects. His mother, Benvenuta Caleffi, had been a seamstress. Luigi was the couple’s eldest son, and the second of thirteen children. The family moved to the home of his grandparents, the Federzonis, in 1842. Luigi Federzoni (stepfather of Antonio) was a civil engineer and architect who had earlier worked as a cabinetmaker.

In 1846 the family inherited a house in the Via Borgonuovo, with a beautiful view of the Castello Estense. It had belonged to Luigi’s wealthy great-uncle, who had no children of his own. The uncle’s legacy favoured Luigi (who was also his godson) and granted him an annual pension which allowed him to study civil engineering in both Rome and Paris. One of Luigi’s brothers, Giuseppe, became a sculptor, and another, Gaetono, became a railway engineer. A third, Giovanni, became a fashionable and internationally famous portrait painter in Paris, and was known as ‘The King of Swish’ for his flowing style of impressionist-influenced realism. Luigi gave Giovanni much financial help in the early years of his career.

A patriot, Luigi was described as one of Garibaldi’s soldiers, and with his schoolmates Gaetano Ungarelli and Gaetano Dondi he participated in the successful defence of Ancona in 1849. By 1855 he was studying in Paris, where he was a contemporary of Gustave Eiffel, though probably at another institution. Following his graduation, he worked as a city engineer in Ferrara, and taught at the local technical institute. One of his early designs was a mausoleum for the Trotti family, built in 1855. The Copparo Town Hall was rebuilt from the ruins of the Delizia Estense palazzo between 1867 and 1875 to Boldini’s plans.

On 25 April 1861 Luigi married Adelina Borelli at Ferrara, and they had at least two sons and a daughter together. After the death of Adelina, Luigi decided to migrate to Dunedin, where he arrived aboard the Wild Deer on 20 January 1875, accompanied by his sons Gualterio (12) and Alfredo (7). It’s puzzling that an Italian engineer from a wealthy family chose to move to a settlement in one of the remotest of British colonies, even one that had experienced rapid development and offered good professional opportunities. Luigi suffered from a kidney condition, so perhaps he was one of the many people who were advised by their physicians to seek out the New Zealand climate for its supposed revitalising qualities. There may also have been personal or political reasons that made it untenable for him to remain in Italy, or perhaps like many others he wished to escape the difficult economic and social conditions in his own country.

Albion Hotel, Maclaggan Street, Dunedin. Image: Otago Witness, 1 July 1903 p.44.

In Dunedin Luigi anglicised his name to Louis, and his sons became Walter and Alfred. Walter studied at the Otago School of Art from 1876 to 1877, where he was commended for his chalk drawings. He also attended Otago Boys’ High School, where he won drawing and writing prizes and was Dux of the Lower School. Louis kept a low profile during these years but joined the Otago Art Society. The earliest Dunedin building designed by him that I have been able to trace is the Albion Hotel in Maclaggan Street, built for Joseph Davies in 1877. A newspaper reporter admired the use of space and described the style as a mixture of French and Italian. Jobs in 1878 included brick offices for Keast & McCarthy (brewers) in Filleul Street, a coffee saloon for A. & T. Dunning (internal alterations), and a brick building in Heriot Row. The last may have been Sundown House, which Boldini advertised as his place of business.

Royal Albert Hotel, George Street, Dunedin. Image (c.1895): Hocken Collections S09-219e.

 

Newmarket Hotel, Manor Place, Dunedin. Image: Toitū / Otago Settlers Museum 80-85-1.

I have mainly identified Boldini’s Dunedin projects from tender notices in the Evening Star, a newspaper he preferred to the Otago Daily Times. These notices refer to over fifty projects, but there must have been many more for which the builders were found by other means. Boldini became particularly recognised as an architect of hotels, and the years 1879 to 1881 saw the realisation of his plans for the Rainbow Hotel, Cattle Market (later Botanic Gardens) Hotel, Martin’s (later Stafford) Hotel, London Hotel, Royal Albert Hotel, Peacock Hotel, and Newmarket Hotel. The style ranged from plain cemented facades with simple cornices and mouldings in the case of the Rainbow, to highly decorated Renaissance Revival designs for the Royal Albert and Newmarket. The latter two both made good use of sloping corner sites. The Newmarket featured Ionic pilasters and bold decorated pediments, but looked a little top-heavy due to the modest height of the lower level. Both hotels featured distinctive acroteria, decorative devices which became something of a signature for Boldini and which were not often used by other local architects.

Synagogue, Moray Place, Dunedin. Photo: Muir & Moodie. Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa C.012193.

Detail of exterior, Synagogue, Moray Place, Dunedin. Image: Muir & Moodie, Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa C.012193.

Synagogue, Moray Place, Dunedin. Image: Muir & Moodie. Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa C.012364.

Detail of interior, Synagogue, Moray Place, Dunedin. Image: Muir & Moodie. Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa C.012364.

On 20 July 1880 Boldini won a major commission, when he saw off rival T.B. Cameron with his design for a new synagogue in Moray Place. The Dunedin Jewish Congregation no longer found its 1860s building convenient, and spent £4,800 on an imposing and lavishly-appointed replacement. The architecture was Classicaland featured a portico supported by large pillars with impressive Corinthian capitals. Diamond-shaped carvings on the front door panels were reminiscent of the Palazzo dei Diamanti in Ferrara, and iron railings designed by Boldini were made by Barningham & Co. The completed building was consecrated on 28 August 1881.

In the same year Maurice Joel, President of the Jewish Congregation and Chairman of its Building Committee, commissioned Boldini to design additions to his own house in Regent Road (which had been designed by David Ross). Boldini’s design added steps and a striking central bay with a loggia (an unusual feature in Dunedin) and an elaborately ornamented parapet.

Eden Bank House, Regent Road, Dunedin. Image (c.1905): Hocken Collections S12-549c.

Elevation drawings of proposed residence for Norman Wood, Ravensbourne. Image: Hocken Collections, Owen MacFie papers, MS-1161/256.

Elevation drawings of proposed residence for Norman Wood, Ravensbourne. Image: Hocken Collections, Owen MacFie papers, MS-1161/256.

Boldini’s other projects of 1879-1881 included refreshment rooms at the Clinton Railway Station, a large block of commercial buildings for Herman Dodd at the corner of George Street and Moray Place (now the site of the Westpac building), shops for William Cranston (St Andrew Street) and John Mulrooney (Stafford Street), and the Oddfellows’ Hall for Norman Wood at Ravensbourne. Wood was a building contractor and served as Mayor of West Harbour, he also commissioned Boldini to design a grand residence at Ravensbourne but this was never built, likely due to Wood’s financial position (he went into bankruptcy a number of times). A proposed Town Hall for West Harbour was also abandoned, but the South Dunedin Town Hall was built to Boldini’s design. Unfortunately, his residential buildings are hard to identify, as most of the tender notice descriptions are vague. There were two houses for William Lane in Melville Street, a brick villa in Abbotsford, a cottage in North East Valley, a brick house in Caversham, and a residence in Cumberland Street. There was also brick house built in Clyde Street in 1881, which may have been Sir James Allen’s residence ‘Arana’. Boldini designed ‘Dulcote’ in the same street for Allen’s brother, Charles, in 1886.

Most of the work was for brick buildings, but work in timber included shops and houses built at St Kilda in 1880.

Grand Hotel, High and Princes streets, Dunedin. Image: Toitū / Otago Settlers Museum, 80-74-1.

If there was any doubt that Boldini had secured a reputation as one of Dunedin’s leading architects, this was put to rest in 1882 when he was commissioned to design the Grand Hotel for James and John Watson. The Grand was the largest and most lavishly appointed hotel in New Zealand. Designed ‘in many respects after approved American and European models’, its mod cons included speaking tubes, bells, electric lighting, and a passenger lift. The Oamaru stone facade gently curved at the street corner, and was decorated with ornate carving by Louis Godfrey. For some of the internal plaster decoration Boldini sent his designs to England for manufacture, and large iron columns were cast by Sparrow & Co. Concrete and iron were used for the shell of the building and the floors, which were designed to be as fire proof as possible. The hotel opened on 6 October 1883, when 6,000 people visited. The building contractor was James Small and it cost over £40,000 to build.

Butterworth Bros warehouse, High Street, Dunedin. The facade was remodelled in the late 1940s and the building was demolished in 2010. Image: Advertisement from ‘Beautiful Dunedin’ by W.H. Fahey (1906).

Parkside Hotel, South Road, Dunedin. The building survives but the frontage was extended in 1925 and given an entirely new facade designed by Edmund Anscombe. Image (189-): William Williams, Alexander Turnbull Library 1/2-140504-G.

Boldini’s largest warehouse design was for Butterworth Brothers, importers and manufacturers of clothing and other soft goods. Some of this firm’s wealth might have been better directed at the working conditions of its employees, as the company was one of those named and shamed in the sweated labour scandal that broke in 1889. Most of the building was brick, with the facade constructed from Port Chalmers and Oamaru stone and elaborately carved. ‘Fire proof’ floors were again constructed with iron beams and concrete.

Other work by Boldini between 1882 and 1885 included the fitting out of the Parkside Hotel in South Road, interior work for the City Butchery, a stone homestead at Tarras, two houses at St Clair (a wooden cottage and a brick residence), a wool shed for M.C. Orbell at Whare Flat, and a house at Dunback for T.E. Glover.

AMP Building, Princes and Dowling streets, Dunedin. Image: Frost, Toitū / Otago Settlers Museum 32-49-1.

AMP Building, Princes and Dowling streets, Dunedin. Image: Frost, Toitū / Otago Settlers Museum 32-49-1.

Boldini’s last major design in Dunedin was built for Australian Mutual Provident Society on the corner of Princes and Dowling streets. Announced in January 1886, its generous proportions were very noticeable when its four storeys were compared with the modest two-storey buildings on either side. The contractor was again James Small, who tendered a price of £21,600. Some of the policyholders objected to the extravagance of the building, which took two years to build. The ground floor facades were built of Port Chalmers stone with Carrara marble pilasters, and the upper floors were Oamaru stone, with granite columns on the top floor. Interior materials include Abroath stone, Minton and majolica tiles, wrought iron pillars, and cedar woodwork. The top floor was a clothing factory, operated by Morris and Seelye, and which accommodated 100 young women. It was one of Dunedin’s greatest architectural losses when this building was destroyed in the summer of 1969-70. The demolition job took much longer than planned, as it was discovered that Boldini has been something of a pioneer in structural reinforcing.

In September 1886 Boldini gained a commission in Auckland, for the Mutual Life Association of Australasia. With a contract price of £11,000, it was just over half the cost of the AMP offices, reflecting its smaller size. It was completed in December 1887, well ahead of the AMP, which was not finished until August 1888. For over a year Boldini had two very large jobs at opposite ends of colony and this involved much travel, although Mahoney & Sons were supervising architects for the Auckland building. Boldini also gained a daughter-in-law during this period, with his son Walter marrying Jane Wilson at a Dunedin Registry Office on 4 June 1887. Both Walter and Alfred settled in Australia.

Louis was in Dunedin for the testing of the lift in the AMP Building on 8 March 1888, and the following day he left for Australia on board the Rotomahana. I have found no evidence that he ever returned.

Mutual Life Association of Australasia, Queen Street, Auckland. Image: Henry Winnkelmann. Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, 1-W1393.

Postcard showing Karori, Mount Macdeon. Image: courtesy of Dominic Romeo.

Karori, Mount Macdeon. Image (2013): courtesy of Dominic Romeo.

Karori, Mount Macdeon. Image (2013): courtesy of Dominic Romeo.

By 1888 building activity in Dunedin was at a low ebb, and the colony as a whole suffering the effects of the long depression. An opportunity presented itself in Australia, when former Wellington businessman Charles William Chapman asked Boldini to design a summer retreat at a bush station on the southern slopes of Mount Macedon, Victoria.  Splendidly restored by Dominic and Marie Romeo between 2011 and 2013, it has been described as a ‘Swiss Chalet’ style building, and its square tower brings out an Italianate character. It has been suggested that some of the external fretwork draws from Maori design, but if so the interpretation looks quite free.

Chapman was an investor in a syndicate led by Dr Duncan Turner, which built an immense guest house resort building at Woodend between 1889 and 1890. With 50-60 rooms and a building area of 2,130 square metres, this was the largest timber structure Boldini designed. Its influences have been described as Venetian, Swiss (the chalet again), Californian (as in trade publications popular at the time), and New Zealand (with its many timber villas). The fretwork on Braemar is highly elaborate, and the octagonal corner tower is a grandiose but delightfully romantic feature.

Lithograph depicting Braemar, Woodend. Image: private collection.

Braemar, Woodend. Image: State Library of Victoria b52993.

Mechanics’ Institute and Free Library. Image (2011): Mattinbgn (Creative Commons).

For a time Boldini lived in Melbourne and Daylesford. He settled in Maldon around 1896, a town with a population of about 1,600 residents. He opened an office in High Street, and buildings from this last phase of his career show some change in his style, following the fashion for greater use of unrendered brick, and continuing the development of his domestic timber designs. His Mechanic’s Institute and Library in Woodend with its cemented Renaissance Revival facade is perhaps the closest to his Dunedin aesthetic. Boldini’s surviving buildings in Maldon include the residence Minilya, the Scots’ (Presbyterian) Church, Phoenix Buildings, and various works for Maldon Hospital, including additions to the main building and remodelling. Two designs, a Benevolent Ward for the hospital and the Maldon Hotel, were not completed until after his death.

Boldini was involved in community affairs, and was made a life governor of the Maldon Athenaeum for the service he gave to that society. He died in Maldon on 12 October 1908, after being admitted to hospital with chronic cystitis and uraemia. A Presbyterian minister presided over his burial at the local cemetery, and his grave is unmarked.

 

Minilya (Calder residence), Maldon, Victoria. Image (2011): Courtesy of Jan Warracke.

Scots’ Church, Maldon. Image (2011): Mattingbn (Creative Commons).

Phoenix Buildings, Maldon, Victoria. Image (2009): City of Greater Bendigo, Macedon Ranges Shire Council.

Maldon Hotel, Victoria. Image (2009): City of Greater Bendigo, Macedon Ranges Shire Council.

So far no photograph of Boldini has emerged. His brother Giovanni was five foot one inches tall, and a dapper moustachioed society figure, but the two men may not have looked very similar.  I hope to put a face to this story one day.

Boldini’s built legacy has fared better in Australia than in New Zealand. In Dunedin, three of his four grandest designs have been demolished: the AMP Buildings (1969-1970), the Synagogue (1972), and Butterworth Bros’ warehouse (2010). There is some irony that the Butterworth building was demolished by the owners of the remaining building, the Grand Hotel, to make way for a car park. Hopefully further research will identify more buildings and more about the man behind their design.

Boldini's unmarked grave in Maldon Cemetery

Boldini’s unmarked grave in Maldon Cemetery. Image (2013): courtesy of Jan Warracke.

Selected works:

  • 1877. Albion Hotel, Maclaggan Street, Dunedin
  • 1878. Coffee salon for A. & T. Dunning, Princes Street, Dunedin.
  • 1878. Keast & McCarthy offices, Filleul Street, Dunedin
  • 1879. Rainbow Hotel, George and St Andrew streets, Dunedin
  • 1880. Royal Albert Hotel, George Street, Dunedin*
  • 1880. Cattle Market Hotel, North Road, Dunedin
  • 1880. Martin’s Hotel, Stafford Street, Dunedin
  • 1880. London Hotel, Jetty Street, Dunedin
  • 1880. Oddfellows’ Hall, Ravensbourne
  • 1880. Refreshment rooms, Clinton Railway Station
  • 1880-1881. Synagogue, Moray Place, Dunedin
  • 1880-1883. Dodd’s Buildings, George Street and Moray Place, Dunedin
  • 1881. Brick residence (Arana?*), Clyde Street, Dunedin
  • 1881. Peacock Hotel, Princes Street, Dunedin
  • 1881. South Dunedin Town Hall, King Edward Street, Dunedin
  • 1881. Newmarket Hotel, Manor Place, Dunedin
  • 1881. Additions to Eden Bank House (Joel residence), Regent Road, Dunedin
  • 1882-1883. Grand Hotel, High and Princes streets, Dunedin*
  • 1883. Butterworth Bros warehouse, High Street, Dunedin
  • 1883. Parkside Hotel, South Road, Dunedin*
  • 1884. Homestead (stone), Tarras
  • 1884. Additions to Fernhill, Melville Street, Dunedin
  • 1885. Woolshed for M.C. Orbell, Whare Flat
  • 1885. Glover residence, Dunback
  • 1886. Dulcote, Clyde Street, Dunedin
  • 1886-1888. AMP Building, Princes and Dowling streets, Dunedin
  • 1886-1887. Mutual Life Association building, Queen Street, Auckland
  • 1888. Karori (for C.W. Chapman), Mount Macdeon, Victoria*
  • 1889-1890. Braemar, Woodend, Victoria*
  • 1893. Mechanics Institute and Library, Woodend, Victoria*
  • 1894. Bath house, Hepburn Springs, Victoria*
  • 1896-1897. Additions and remodelling, Maldon Hospital, Victoria*
  • 1899. Dining room, Maldon Hospital, Victoria*
  • 1900. Minilya (Calder residence), Maldon, Victoria*
  • 1905-1906. Scots’ Church, Maldon, Victoria*
  • 1906. Phoenix Buildings, Maldon, Victoria*
  • 1907-1909. Maldon Hotel, Maldon, Victoria*
  • 1909. Benevolent Ward, Maldon Hospital, Victoria*

*indicates buildings still standing

Primary references:

Too many to list here, many from newspaper sources available online through PapersPast and Trove, and from the Evening Star (Dunedin) on microfilm. Feel free to ask if you’re interested in anything in particular.

Secondary references:

Ceccarelli, Francesco and Marco Folin. Delizie Estensi: Architetture di Villa nel Rinascimento Italiano ed Europeo (Firenze: Olschki, 2009).
‘Dalle Origini al Primo Soggiorno Inglese’ (chapter from unidentified biography of Giovanni Boldini, supplied to the writer).
Entwisle, Peter. ‘Art Beat: Putting Flesh to File on Boldini’, Otago Daily Times, 22 August 2005 p.17.
Entwisle, Peter. ‘Boldini, Louis’ in Southern People: A Dictionary of Otago Southland Biography (Dunedin: Longacre, 1998).
Hitch, John. A History of Braemar House, Woodend, Victoria. 1890-1990 (Woodend: Braemar College, 1992).
Knight, Hardwicke and Niel Wales. Buildings of Victorian Dunedin: An Illustrated Guide to New Zealand’s Victorian City (Dunedin: McIndoe, 1988).
Pepe, Luigi. Copernico e lo Studio di Ferrara: Università, Dottori e Student (Bologna: Clueb, 2003).
Scardino, Lucio and Antionio P. Torresi. Post mortem: Disegni, Decorazioni e Sculture per la Certosa Ottocentesca di Ferrara (Michigan: Liberty House, 1998).
Victorian Heritage Database online.

Acknowledgments:

I would particularly like to thank Jan Warracke, Margaret McKay, and Dominic Romeo in Victoria for their help with images and information.