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Historic Place Category 1
Lot 1 DP 105830 (CT NA75C/403), North Auckland Land District
Auckland Council (Auckland City Council)
This historic place was registered under the Historic Places Act 1980. The following text is the original citation considered by the NZHPT Board at the time of registration.
The former Customhouse was designed by Thomas Mahoney, the second generation of an important architectural practice. French Renaissance in style it bears a strong resemblance to the Marshall and Snelgrove building in Oxford Street, London, which must have influenced Mahoney when on a trip to Britain in the 1880s.
Built between 1888 and 1889 the Customhouse is related to the City Art Gallery in age and style. But Mahoney's composition is constrained by an inner city site and it is less varied than that of the Gallery. It has a tower which rises one floor above the main façade. Mahoney, create maximum vitality within a shallow plane by introducing attached columns on the recessed parts of the wall and by using pilasters on the projecting pavilions and tower. The ornamental treatment of the two street facades, combined with numerous windows and a balustrade, which marks the junction between the walls and pavilion roofs, lend a Victorian character to the Customhouse. The extravagance of the workmanship and materials reflects the affluence and optimism of the city when it was feeling its commercial strength.
The Customhouse became obsolete seventy years later but was saved from demolition through the concerted efforts of the local people and organisations with help from and American businessman. It has been restored and reused as a combined cultural and commercial centre.
It is significant as having been a major public building of the colonial era - an impressive piece of architecture rich in townscape quality.
- Original Construction: 1889 (circa)
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