Tag Archives: Victorian

Moray Terrace

Built: 1880-1881
Address: 57-65 Moray Place
Architect: T.B. Cameron (c.1837-1894)
Builders: Not known

This terrace draws attention to its history with the date ‘1880’ conspicuously displayed below a chimney stack. It was in August 1880 that architect T.B. Cameron called for tenders to build ‘three three-storey residences, in Brick, in Moray place and View street, for Mrs Muir’. The buildings were finished in 1881 and named Moray Terrace. By 1884 the corner residence was known as Gladstone House, presumably because Mrs Muir was an admirer of the British (Liberal) Prime Minister, W.E. Gladstone. The building cost was £4,000.

Who was Mrs Muir? Amelia Muir (1814-1893) was one of Dunedin’s pioneering business women. She was the daughter of Thomas Allen, land steward (or senior gardener) to William IV and a prominent horticulturalist in South Australia from his arrival there in 1836. It is recorded that Mrs Muir’s godmother was King William’s youngest daughter, Amelia FitzClarence, and Dr Hocken noted that it was ‘said’ that she was the natural daughter of George IV. Although this last claim is very unreliable, it’s interesting to think of it as the subject of local gossip! Mrs Muir arrived in Dunedin in 1861 and soon opened Bedford House, a boarding house on Bell Hill. She was later compensated when the house was removed and the land excavated. She was active in the St Paul’s Guild, the Benevolent Institution, the Servants’ Home, and the Female Refuge. She was also a zealous supporter of Otago Girls’ High School where her daughter was the first dux. Her son was a photographer and the senior partner in the firm Muir & Moodie. Her property included houses further up View Street and some family connection remained over forty years after her death, when ‘Muir Court’ and ‘Allen Court’ were built at the top of the street.

MorayTerrace_1883

The architect, Thomas Bedford Cameron (c.1837-1894), had worked in the United Kingdom, Ballarat and Auckland before coming to Dunedin in 1878. He is best known in Dunedin for designing Caversham Presbyterian Church and for winning the competition for the design of the town hall (though R.A. Lawson’s design was eventually used). He also designed a building similar in style to Moray Terrace at 83 Moray Place, which was replaced by the Stuart (now Kirkland) Chambers in 1947. Just a few years younger than Lawson, Cameron was a very accomplished architect to whom I’ll return in the next month.

Moray Terrace is an elegant, pretty, and well-preserved example of Cameron’s work, and another Dunedin example of the revival of the renaissance Italian palazzo. It’s unusual for a terrace – do any others in New Zealand have three-storey street fronts? The many interesting details include pilasters (some with Corinthian capitals and others with rosettes) that distinguish the separate houses. Lost detailing at the ground foor obscures that distinction to some degree, and ball finials above the parapet are also missing. Remarkably, the chimney stacks have  survived more or less unaltered and the one facing View Street remains a focal point of the overall design. Few original features survive inside, at least in the apartments recently advertised for sale. In recent decades the exterior has had a variety of colour schemes: one predominantly blue, another brown, and now one in the ubiquitous fashionable grey.

Moray Terrace has had many interesting occupants. Braemar House girls’ school, run by Jessie Dick, was briefly housed here (before moving further up the street) and the pupils of this ‘Ladies’ Seminary’ included a young Frances Hodgkins. From the mid 1880s Caroline Wells ran a higher-class boarding house in the terrace. Residents in early years included a sharebroker, an artist, a gaol warder, a tobacconist, an  engineer, and a bank clerk. In 1885 a con artist in the building posed as a theatrical agent and persuaded many to part with their money with the promise of getting them work on the stage in Australia. By the time his scheme was rumbled he had disappeared.

Shops were put in the ground floor at some point, their fronts projecting from the facade. The building was home to the Gladstone Milk Bar from about 1952 to 1965. In the 1980s a ghostly apparition, dressed in 1950s denim jeans and jacket, was rumoured to haunt the buildings.

Gladstone House was extensively renovated in 1987 when it became known as Shand House. In recent years the original name, Moray Terrace, has been reinstated.

Newspaper references: Otago Daily Times 31 August 1880 p.4 (call for tenders), 13 April 1881 p.2 (accident to contractor), 18 July 1881 p.1 (to let notice – Moray Terrace), 20 January 1882 p.1 (Braemar House advertisement), 25 July 1883 p.2 (cost), 1 October 1884 p.1 (to let notice – Gladstone House), 17 June 1885 p.3 (‘An Ingenious Swindle’), 28 November 1893 p.6 (Mrs Muir’s obituary), 16 December 1893 p.5 (corrections to obituary), 13 July 1985 p.29 (Lois Galer’s history).

Other references: Stone’s and Wise’s directories; F&J 11/27 (Hocken Collections); Jones, David and Ian Westergaard. ‘Whither the First ‘Botanical Garden’ for Adelaide: The Role and Contribution of Thomas Allen’ in Past Matters: Heritage, History and the Built Environment (Palmerston North: Massey University, 2006).

Joseph Lowe Shaw, architect

Born: Dublin, Ireland, c.1821
Died: Dunedin, 23 September 1906

521 George Street (Wilson residence)

J.L. Shaw has something of a one-hit-wonder status in Dunedin, where he is almost only known as the architect of the much admired house at 521 George Street. He is better known in Victoria, Australia, for his earlier work there, but his New Zealand career deserves more exploration and recognition than it’s had.

Joseph Lowe Shaw was born in Dublin, Ireland, in 1820 or 1821, the son of Mary Ann Shaw, née Lowe, and John Shaw, who was a doctor. His two older brothers, William and Forster Shaw, were also doctors, and they migrated to Victoria in the 1840s. I haven’t found details of  Joseph’s education or early career in Ireland but he was about 30 years old when he arrived in Melbourne aboard the Asia in 1850. He settled at Geelong, where for two years he worked in partnership with H.M. Garrard as a surveyor, engineer, and architect. The two men were responsible for many early survey maps.

In 1851 Shaw married Euphemia Jane Clibborn. She died in 1860 and the following year Shaw married Juliet Georgiana Wherland. The couple had a son, Francis.

From 1856 to 1857 Shaw worked in partnership with R.A. Dowden in the architectural firm Shaw and Dowden. The pair’s work in Geelong included the Colonial Bank, St Augustine’s Orphanage, and additions to James Simson’s residence Eumeralla. They were also responsible for the Woolbrook homestead at Teesdale. In 1859 Shaw designed Morongo, a grand bluestone homestead, for John Calvert.  For his own brother William he designed Allington, a two-storyed residence in Newtown noted for its striking polychromatic brickwork. Churches by Shaw included St Peter’s Anglican Church at Geelong, and Presbyterian churches at Batesford, Shelford, Inverleigh, and Darlington.

Derry Hall, Curlewis

Morongo, Bell Post Hill

Presbyterian Church, Leigh

Allington, Newtown

Shaw came to suffer from a lack of patronage, and from personal problems that were said to have included alcoholism. Perhaps for a fresh start he moved with his family to Dunedin in 1876, where one of his first architectural works was the Supreme Court Hotel, now the Kwangchow Cuisine restaurant, in Stuart Street. He was the architect of the extensive rebuilding of Chingford, then P.C. Neill’s house, in 1877. This house was demolished in 1968 and only the stables, designed by Mason and Wales in 1880, survive.

In 1878 Shaw designed Edward Hulme Hart’s residence in Wardlaw Street, a timber house with distinctive fretted bargeboards, steeply gabled bay, and other features in the style of the Chingford additions. It has been described as ‘Carpenter’s Gothic’. Other houses by Shaw included the house in George Street built for Robert Wilson, which has distinctive balconies that have more in common with Australian than New Zealand models (although interestingly  a house at 111 Highgate is in a similar style). Shaw also designed a homestead for J.M. Ritchie at Cannington Station, and Robert Chapman’s large wooden house in Maori Hill.

Chingford, North East Valley (with kind permission of macadee on flickr). All that’s seen here except the portion at the right rear of the picture were Shaw’s additions.

Hart residence, Musselburgh

Shaw was the architect of buildings for Donaghy’s rope and twine factory in South Dunedin, including the original rope walk of 1878. He also designed the National Hotel in Great King Street and the National Bank at Tapanui. He was architect to the Benevolent Institution, for which his designs included the Old Men’s Home, Secretary’s residence, and additions. Juliet Shaw was treasurer to the committee of the Female Refuge, and in 1888 additions to the refuge in Forth Street were built to Shaw’s design.

An Anglican, Shaw had been a trustee of St Paul’s Church in Geelong, and served in the Diocesan Synod in Dunedin. His works associated with the Church included schoolhouses for St John’s and St Matthew’s churches and the supervision of the removal of the old St Peter’s church building at Caversham and its re-erection as St Mary’s, Mornington, in 1883.

Shaw served as Chairman of the Maori Hill Licensing Committee, and as a Maori Hill Borough councillor. His later works included the wooden council chambers built in 1894.

Joseph Lowe Shaw died at his home, Como, in Drivers Road, Maori Hill, on 23 September 1906, at the age of 85. He was survived by his wife and his son. Shaw’s remains are buried at the Northern Cemetery along with those of Juliet Shaw, who died in 1920.

Some buildings designed by J.L. Shaw:

    • 1854-1855. St Peter’s Anglican Church, Chilwell
    • 1855. Forster Shaw’s residence (later Clonard College), Geelong
    • c.1855. Residence (Darriwill), Sutherland’s Creek (attributed)
    • 1856, 1858. Additions to Eumeralla, Newtown (Dowden & Ross)
    • 1857. Colonial Bank, Geelong (Dowden & Ross)
    • 1857. St Augustine’s Orphanage, Geelong (Dowden & Ross)
    • 1857. Catholic Church, Steiglitz (Dowden & Ross)
    • 1857. Woolbrook homestead, Teesdale
    • 1858. Derry Hall, Curlewis
    • 1859. Presbyterian Church, Shelford
    • 1859-1860. Morongo, Bell Post Hill
    • 1860. Presbyterian Church, Batesford
    • 1861. Presbyterian Church, Inverleigh
    • 1862. All Saints’ Anglican Church, Geelong
    • 1864. Presbyterian Church, Darlington
    • 1866-1867. Additions to Mawallok homestead, Stockyard Hill
    • 1872. Allington, Newtown
    • 1876. Supreme Court Hotel, Dunedin
    • 1877. Additions to Chingford, Dunedin
    • 1878. Hart family residence, Musselburgh
    • 1878. Donaghy’s ropeworks, Forbury
    • 1881. Robert Wilson’s residence, 521 George Street, Dunedin
    • 1881. George Joachim’s residence, Willowbank, Lees Street, Dunedin
    • 1882. National Hotel, Great King Street, Dunedin
    • 1883. St John’s Anglican Church school room, Dunedin
    • 1884. Residence and other buildings, Cannington Station
    • 1885. St Matthew’s Anglican Church school room, Dunedin
    • 1885. Secretary’s residence, Otago Benevolent Institution
    • 1885. Old Men’s Home, Otago Benevolent Institution
    • 1887. Robert Chapman’s residence (wood), Maori Hill
    • 1885. Additions to Otago Benevolent Institution
    • 1888. National Bank, Tapanui (wood)
    • 1893. Maori Hill Borough Council chambers

Former Supreme Court Hotel, Stuart Street. In recent decades it has sported a funny-looking hat.

The grave stone of Joseph and Juliet Shaw in the Northern Cemetery, Dunedin

Image credits: State Library of Victoria, b51531 (Morongo), pi002931 (Leigh Presbyterian Church), Heritage Victoria B3625 (Allington); Hocken Collections S12-614b (Hart residence), macadee on flickr (Chingford). Thanks to commenter Paula Grima for the image of Derry Hall.

Newspaper references: The Colonist (Sydney) 1 Jul 1840 p.2 (Forster Shaw), Geelong Advertiser 14 Jul 1851 p.2 (marriage notice), Argus (Melbourne), 29 Mar 1850 p.3 (arrival on ‘Asia’); Otago Daily Times 31 Mar 1877 p.1 (Supreme Court hotel), 12 Jun 1877 p.4 (Chingford), 17 May 1878 p.3 (Hart residence), 22 Feb 1878 p.3 (Donaghy’s rope walk), 21 Mar 1878 p.3 (Donaghy’s machine house); 25 Mar 1881 p.4 (Wilson residence), 7 Sep 1882 p.3 (National Hotel), 7 Aug 1883 p.4 (St John’s school house), 26 May 1884 p.1 (Cannington Station), 9 February 1885 p.1 (old men’s home), 1 Aug 1885 p.4 (St Matthew’s school house), 4 Sep 1885 p.2 (Benevolent Institution – Secretary’s residence), 13 Dec 1886, 3 (Chapman residence); 23 May 1887 p.3 (Benevolent Institution), 6 Dec 1887 p.3 (National Bank, Tapanui), 23 Feb 1894 p.3 (Maori Hill Borough Council); Otago Witness 26 Sep 1906 p.46 (death).

Other references: Lorraine Huddle, ‘Architects in Geelong in the 1840s and 1850s’ (research report, University of Melbourne, 1979); Lorraine Huddle, ‘Architects of Early Geelong – 4’ in The Investigator vol. 18 no. 1 (1983), Hardwicke Knight, Church Building in Otago (1993) p.54; Victorian death registration for Euphemia Jane Shaw, 1860; Victorian marriage registration for Juliet Georgiana Wherland and Joseph Lowe Shaw, 1861; New Zealand death registration for Joseph Lowe Shaw (1906/7149); New Zealand death registration for Joseph Lowe Shaw (1906/7149); Will and probate file for Juliet Georgiana Shaw (Archives New Zealand DAAC.9005.D249.398/8494); Dunedin City Council Cemeteries Database; Victorian Heritage Database; E-mail, 20 January 2011, from Allan Willingham to David Murray.

Expanded and updated from a piece published in the ‘Stories in Stone’ column in the Otago Daily Times  in 2010.

Lost Dunedin #1: Eden Bank House

Address: 9 Regent Road
Built:
1863-1881
Architect:
Additions by David Ross (1874) and Louis Boldini (1881)
Builders:
Not known
Demolished circa 1966

We’re lucky to have so many historic buildings in Dunedin but a lot have been lost to demolition, including this one. I’m as interested in the lost buildings as much as the surviving ones, and although they’re gone they can be appreciated on some levels through photographs and other records.

The original building at the corner of Regent Road and Queen Street was one of a few rental houses built for Robert Murray, who lived nearby.  When new in 1863 it was described as a large, elegant, and substantial stone and brick residence. Known as Eden Bank House, it was the home of a Polish prince (!), Konstantine Drucki-Lubecki, who had left his country after taking part in the failed revolution of 1831. Lubecki’s English wife Laura (known as Madame Lubecki) ran a ladies’ school for boarders and day pupils at Eden Bank from 1863 to 1864. The name chosen for the house might have been a straightforward biblical reference, but it might also have been taken from the ship Eden, which took the Lubeckis from Europe to Australia in 1838. ‘Bank’ presumably referred to the steep incline at the front of the property.

The Lubeckis’ residency was brief and the house next appears to have been rented by Miss I.M. Cary who also ran it as a ladies’ school, using the name Ellerslie House, from 1864 to 1865.

Maurice Joel, one of Dunedin’s most successful brewers and a prominent member of the Jewish community, purchased the house in 1867. It became known as Eden Bank again, and remained the Joel family home for nearly four decades.  In 1874 Joel commissioned David Ross to design major brick additions, including verandahs. In the previous eleven years Ross had also designed a shop, various brewery buildings, and a hotel (the Captain Cook) for Joel. Further additions in 1881 were designed by the Italian-born architect Louis Boldini, who also the designer of the magnificent synagogue that opened in Moray Place the same year. Joel was President of the Jewish Congregation at the time.

Maurice Joel

With its alterations and additions Eden Bank was an imposing house in the Italian renaissance style, drawing from Venetian models. In Ross’s 1874 design it is likely that a single a verandah ran the entire length of the frontage. The striking central bay and pediment with elaborate ornamentation appear to be Boldini’s work. The loggia was particularly unusual for Dunedin, although this feature was seen more often in Melbourne.

The Joel children were artistically gifted. Grace Joel is celebrated as one of New Zealand’s best early painters and she painted and taught at her studio in Eden Bank in the 1890s. Her sisters, Blanche and Lily, both became professional music teachers and were accomplished piano and voice performers respectively.

Joel leased Eden Bank to the government in 1905, when it became St Helens Maternity Hospital. The government later purchased the property. It was the second of seven hospitals in Prime Minister Richard Seddon’s maternity hospital scheme, which aimed to provide modern maternity services at low cost to women of the ‘citizen class’.  The hospitals were named after St Helens in Lancashire, the birthplace of Seddon. Dr Emily Siedeberg-Mckinnon, New Zealand’s first woman medical graduate, was superintendent for 33 years. Alice Holford, who supervised most deliveries and oversaw training of midwives, medical students, and nurses, was matron for 24 years. The hospital was a great success but eventually more modern facilities were needed and it closed in 1938 following the completion of the new Queen Mary Maternity Hospital in Cumberland Street. By that time 5,500 babies had been born at St Helens (some in a cottage adjoining  the house) and 200 midwives had been trained there.

The house in 1905, seen from the corner of Queen Street, showing the extent of David Ross’s additions (on the right)

St Helens Hospital then became St Helens Hostel, a hall of residence for Home Science students at the University of Otago. It closed following the completion of the new Studholme Hall buildings in 1961. It was used for little more than storage until 1962, when the government put it on the market. It had not been drastically altered over the years, although Ross’s verandahs had been replaced with balconies (one on the north side was glazed in). At the time of the sale the building was described as being in excellent condition, with only minor renovations required to restore it to its condition of the 1870s. Unfortunately it was not saved. I found entries for St Helens Lodge in the Dunedin telephone directory up to 1966, and it was presumably around this date that it was demolished. The large block of flats now on the site dates from the late 1970s.

Historic images: View of the front of the house c.1905, Hocken Collections S12-549c (University of Otago Medical Library: Historical Collection). View from Queen Street corner, Hocken Collections S12-614a (Otago Witness, 2 August 1905 p.44). Advertisement from Otago Daily Times, 6 July 1863 p.3 (National Library of New Zealand http://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz). Portrait of Maurice Joel from Cyclopedia of New Zealand, vol. iv, Otago and Southland Provincial Districts (Christchurch: Cyclopedia Company, 1905), p.291.

Newspaper references: Otago Daily Times, 7 March 1863 p.3 (joinery work), 12 June 1863 p.3 (‘to let’ notice),  6 July 1863 p.3 (Madame Lubecki’s advertisement), 12 March 1864 p.2 (Madame Lubecki’s advertisement), 25 May 1864 p.1 (Miss Cary’s advertisement), 10 December 1866 p.3 (sale of property), 16 October 1874 p.3 (call for tenders by Ross), 2 February 1897 p.1 (Grace Joel’s advertisement), 24 January 1938 p.4 (St Helens Hospital closing ceremony); 22 May 1962 p.5 (sale by government); Evening Star, 7 January 1881 p.1 (call for tenders by Boldini), 28 February 1881 p.1 (further tender notice); Otago Witness, 2 August 1905 p.33 (purchase by government).

Other references: Siedeberg-McKinnon, Emily, ‘My own history of nursing in Otago and the work at St Helens up to its closing day’ (typescript, Hocken Collections MS-1621/027).

Ahlfeld Buildings (Hallenstein Bros)

Address: 14-16 Dowling Street
Built: 1884
Architect: James Hislop (1859-1904)
Builders: Anderson & Godso

Just one door down from Milford House is a building that isn’t in any publications about Dunedin architecture. That’s probably because, though a handsome Victorian warehouse, it’s one of the more modest and understated. The DCC and others looked into its history but didn’t discover the year it was built or who the architect was, so it posed a bit of a challenge and a chance to carry out some fun detective work.

Hallenstein Brothers’ records at the Hocken hold some answers. Letter books and lease records show that following the completion of his factory, Bendix Hallenstein employed James Hislop to design both this three-storey building and the adjoining two-storey building at no.12 (now part of the Les Mills gym). In July 1884 Hallenstein wrote to his brother Michaelis informing him that he had accepted a low tender of £2,995 for the construction and added: ‘there is hardly any building going on or else we should have had to pay considerably more’. The long depression saw work dry up for builders and architects. There were some cost overruns (the final amount paid to contractors Anderson & Godso was £3,443) but the buildings were ready for occupation before the year was out.

Nos 14 and 16 have a firewall between them, so they might be thought of as separate buildings behind a single facade. The first tenants at no.14 were Philip and John Isaacs (wholesale agents), while at no.16 were Dodgshun & Co. (woollen importers). Neither remained long and the tenant that became most associated with these addresses was Ahlfeld Bros & Co. They took over the lease of no.14 in 1889, and a few years later took on no.16 as well. They were fancy goods merchants and importers, whose stock included Wiesner pianos, Anchor sewing machines and bicycles, Gaedke’s cocoa, and ‘Silver and Brilliant Packet’ starch. They claimed to have branches in London, Hamburg, and Paris. I haven’t found many references to the firm in old news columns, but the sensational divorce case of Adolf Ahlfeld, in which one of his employees was named co-respondent, made national headlines in 1893. There was another scandal in 1905, when local police constables were found to have been criminally involved in a series of burglaries of Ahlfeld Bros and other businesses, and the receiving of stolen goods.

Ahlfeld Bros were in the building until about 1916. Later tenants at no.14 included Gordon & Gotch (wholesale booksellers and stationers), Partridge & Co. (tobacco merchants), the British General Electric Co., A.R. Dickson & Sons (plumbing, heating, and sanitary engineers), and Ambler & Co. At no.16 tenants included the Bristol Piano Co. and R.E. Stevens & Co. (stationers). The flats above were leased by various people and groups, including lawyers, the Scouts’ Assocation, and the Second New Zealand Expeditionary Force Association. The clothing factory and Glendermid businesses next door also expanded into the buildings for periods. The architect, James Hislop, had his own professional rooms upstairs in the smaller building at no.12, above the jewellers Berens & Silverston. Hallenstein’s tenants were often other members of the Jewish community.

Hislop is a signficant name on any list of Victorian Dunedin architects, although he has been under-researched and much of his work remains unattributed or little recognised. His Moorish-style main building for the New Zealand and South Seas Exhibition of 1889-1890 was one of the most exotic-looking pieces of architecture ever seen in Dunedin. His most familiar design in the city might be the corner portion of Mollison’s building (facaded and now Westpac) on George and Hanover streets.

There are many parallels between Hislop and J.A. Burnside and when I think of one I often think of the other. Burnside was born in New Zealand in 1856 and Hislop was only a year old when he arrived in the colony in 1860. Both men grew up in Dunedin and both were articled to Mason, Wales, and Stevenson in the late 1870s. Hislop went into his own practice in 1880, just a year behind Burnside. They were at the front of a new generation of emerging New Zealand architects that succeeded the generation of Lawson and Ross.

These Dowling Street buildings are early examples of Hislop’s work and he was only 25 years old when he designed them. He references Ross’s factory building in his treatment of the pairs of round-headed windows. The proportions of the building are less like Ross’s work, with narrow bays (emphasising the vertical) and modest pediments. There was a curious incident in 1889 when it appeared as though Hislop was claiming credit (though he wasn’t) for the factory building next door and Ross (no longer a Dunedin resident) wrote a rather crotchety letter of complaint to the editor of the Otago Daily Times.

The facade remains fairly unspoiled and recent painting in sensitive colours shows it off to good effect. The main alterations to it over the years have been the insertion of large glass shop fronts, the moving of the entrance doors, and the insertion of an odd-looking window on the first floor. Finials above the pediments have been removed.

Feldspar purchased the building in 2010 and have been busy carrying out improvements, including strengthening work. On 22 June I was lucky enough to join a group on a site visit to see some of the work that had been done. The upstairs interiors aren’t especially remarkable but have some attractive brickwork and timberwork and a lot of potential. It looks as though they will soon become very attractive spaces for commercial lease.

Newspaper references: Otago Daily Times, 28 December 1889 p.6 (Ross’s complaint), 30 December 1889 p.2 (Hislop’s clarification), 26 May 1893 p.4 (Ahlfeld divorce case); Otago Witness, 14 June 1905 p.34 (‘Dunedin Police Scandal’).

Other references: Cyclopedia of New Zealand, vol. iv, Otago and Southland Provincial Districts (Christchurch: Cyclopedia Company, 1905), p.344 (includes historic image); Bendix Hallenstein letter books (Hocken AG-296/005); Hallenstein Bros general ledger (Hocken AG-295-015/028); Hallenstein Bros leases and conveyances book (Hocken AG-295-038/001).

Hallenstein’s New Zealand Clothing Factory

Address: 18-20 Dowling Street
Built: 1882-1883
Architect: David Ross (1828-1908)
Builders: Meikle & Campbell

Burton Brothers photograph (Hocken Collections AG-295-036/003)

I’ll start with one of my favourites…

Hallenstein Brothers opened New Zealand’s first clothing factory in 1873 on a site off Custom House Square (the Exchange). Just ten years later they put up this fine pile, which company historians later described as their ‘quietly imposing headquarters’. Excavation work began in October 1882. To celebrate the opening of the building, a ball attended by 500-600 staff and friends was held a few doors down the street at the Garrison Hall on 23 July 1883. Contractors Meikle & Campbell received the final payment of their £8,500 bill in October.

The building is larger than it might first appear as its depth (67 metres) is four times greater than the street frontage. The top two floors originally housed the clothing factory, with a showroom and the company’s head office on the first floor, and a warehouse and leased-out premises on the ground floor. As many as 300 employees worked in the factory at one time and I like to imagine the busy traffic up and down the stairs, the activity of the (mostly female) workers on the factory floor, and the ‘pleasant hum of voices’ not overpowered by the rattling away of 80-odd sewing machines (most of them Singers).  An ‘amusing stampede’ to the dining room, where free tea was served, took place daily at exactly 1pm when everyone had to leave the workroom, where windows were opened to ventilate the space. In 1900 the output of the factory was estimated at 3,000 garments a week.

Alice Woodward started at HB’s as a 14-year-old in 1914, earning 5 shillings a week making coats at a time when much of the sewing was still done by hand. She found it run strictly, with the front door shut at precisely 8am and latecomers having to wait outside for fifteen minutes before being let in. Alice stayed for 57 years, retiring as a machinist in 1971, at which time there were about 75 working in the sewing room.

A separate business, Michaelis, Hallenstein and Farquhar, had their offices and a warehouse in the lower part of the building from 1883 to 1957. Renamed Glendermid Ltd in 1918, they were leather merchants and established the large tannery at Sawyers Bay.

Inside the clothing factory (Hocken Collections AG-295-036/003)

Architect David Ross was a Scotsman who worked in Dunedin from 1862 and the factory was one of his last projects here before he moved to Auckland. Ross designed some of Dunedin’s most familiar buildings, including the Congregational Church in Moray Place and the older part of the Otago Museum. Although he sits a little in the shadow of the famous Mr Lawson, he remains the only Dunedin architect to have become a Fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects. Ross had travelled extensively in Europe and the USA and his entrepreneurial client, Bendix Hallenstein, had looked at factory design and equipment in England. I wonder how much their observations influenced the Dunedin design, which was enlightened in terms of health and comfort in a decade when conditions in other local factories led to the infamous sweated labour scandal.

This is a renaissance revival building: ‘of the ordinary Italian street description’ according to an advance newspaper report.  It draws strongly from the palazzo, which is seen in such features as the loggia-like arches at the ground floor and small windows on the upper floors. The bold cornices give horizontal emphasis. It’s strong and unfussy, but there’s also much richness in its detail. Some of its features recur in Ross’s work, including the pairs of round-headed windows and the banded rustication. The windows on the top floor of the facade repeat the treatment he used on the ground floor of the museum. The row-of-circles motif he frequently used elsewhere only appears on an alleyway gate.

The ground floor walls of the building are stone, with finely carved Port Chalmers breccia used for the facade and Leith Valley andesite for the other elevations. The upper floors are constructed in triple brick and plastered on the street front. The alleys on either side are among the most delightful in Dunedin and a large boiler survives at the back where the building abuts the stone of Bell Hill. Inside the factory chamber, which was originally ‘delicately adorned in tints of blue and white’, an innovative lantern-like roof structure with many windows and skylights keeps the space well lit.

The facade is little altered. The bridge over the alleyway is an early addition said to have been built to accommodate a board room, the ground floor doorways have been relocated more than once, and a few windows have been replaced unsympathetically. A pleasant but slightly busy paint scheme highlights some of the architectural details. It’s a bit of a shame that signage covers the old clothing factory name with its period lettering but this could be removed in the future.

In 1968 Ted McCoy and Gary Blackman identified the building as the best of Dunedin’s early warehouses. It was registered as a Catergory I Historic Place in 1988, the same year that Hallensteins’ head office left Dunedin. The building has been the home to Milford Galleries since 1989 and is now named ‘Milford House’. The Dowling Street Studios are also to be found here, while another tenant is the Christian Outreach Centre. The building was bought by Feldspar in 2010 and their involvement in heritage re-use projects such as Arrow House and Diesoline Espresso suggests it’s in good hands.

HB6

Newspaper references: Otago Daily Times, 19 September 1882 p.1 (call for tenders), 5 October 1882 p.4 (description – ‘shortly to be proceeded with’),12 October 1882 p.1 (contractors’ notice – excavation), 27 September 1883 p.3 (description following completion), 9 January 1900, p.2 (description); 4 May 1970, p.14 (changes), 21 December 1971, p.12 (Alice Woodward); Otago Witness, 28 July 1883 p.10 (ball to mark opening), 18 August 1883 p.8 (floor area); 7 June 1894, p.35 (description).

Other references: [Bathgate, John] (‘A Citizen’), An Illustrated Guide to Dunedin, and its Industries (Fergusson and Mitchell, 1883), p.102; Cyclopedia of New Zealand, vol. iv, Otago and Southland Provincial Districts (Christchurch: Cyclopedia Company, 1905), pp.306-7; Brasch, Charles and C.R. Nicolson: Hallensteins: The First Century 1873-1973 (Dunedin: Hallenstein Bros, 1972) pp.25-27; McCoy, E.J. and J.G. Blackman, Victorian City of New Zealand (Dunedin: McIndoe, 1968), plt 20; New Zealand Historic Places Trust registration no. 2159; Bendix Hallenstein letterbooks (Hocken AG-296/005); Hallenstein Brothers general ledger (Hocken AG-295-015/028).