Historic Place Category 2
Pt Bordered Green DP 6645 (CT WN311/39), Wellington Land District
Extent of Registration
Extent includes the land described as Pt Bordered Green DP 6645, Wellington Land District, and the building known as the Braemar Flats (Former) thereon, and its fittings and fixtures. (Refer to map in Appendix 1 of the registration report for further information).
The Braemar Flats located on the northern end of The Terrace were completed by 1924/1925, at the beginning of a building boom that helped transform Wellington into a modern city. From the mid nineteenth to the early twentieth centuries The Terrace was the home of some of Wellington's wealthier citizens. As land values increased and building technology changed to allow for taller and sturdier buildings to be built, The Terrace gradually transformed into an area accommodating commerce as well as flats and apartments. The Braemar Flats was one of the first such apartment buildings to be built on the Terrace. This was part of a bigger building boom during the 1920s and 1930s that saw New Zealand's capital city transform into a modern metropolis of tall office buildings and apartment dwellings.
In 1923 the well-established architectural firm of Crichton McKay and Haughton designed the Braemar Flats (or the Braemar Building as it later became known) for builders Henry Jones and John Cameron. The plans show a five-storey building with a basement containing a box room and services, and four storeys of residential space. Each storey above the ground floor (named basement in the original plans) was to be identical in layout, containing three flats. It was built of reinforced concrete rendered with cement stucco. Sometime during the construction (or soon after) the ground floor was altered to provide accommodation for a doctor's consulting rooms. It is likely that the construction of the Braemar Flats began in 1924 and was completed sometime in 1924-1925. Further changes occurred when Jones and Cameron constructed caretaker's rooms and an apartment or penthouse on the roof in 1927. Jones and Cameron remained part owners of the building, joining William Tripe and Eva Jones to form Braemar Flats Limited in 1925. Although the shareholders changed over time, the company essentially remained a family business owning and managing the Braemar Flats for the next forty years.
A remarkable variety of people lived in the Braemar Flats and most were probably well to do. Among their number were senior civil servants, company managers and directors, accountants and nurses, as well as a number of widows. Part or all of the ground floor remained a doctor's surgery until the beginning of the 1970s. Many of the doctors who used these rooms were prominent specialists. Historically the northern end of the Terrace has been associated with doctors' practices. The Braemar Flats along with other with nearby buildings such as Dr Boor's House and Kelvin House, tell a significant part of the story of the development of private practice in New Zealand medical history.
In 1964-65 Braemar Flats Limited was wound up and the building sold. From this date the building gradually transformed into largely office accommodation, reflecting the change in use of the northern end of The Terrace for offices. In 1975 Brandons, one of Wellington's oldest law firms acquired the Braemar Flats. Although the law firm has made some changes, the original building remains substantially intact. The exterior of the building is almost entirely as it would have appeared on completion of the 1927 roof-top addition and on the interior many of the original fixtures and fittings including tile floors, cage elevator, doorframes and fireplaces remain.
Today the Braemar Flats' contribution to the streetscape of The Terrace is highly significant; both as regards to its size, scale and aesthetic appeal, and the glimpse it and other nearby structures pre-dating 1940 provide of a different pattern of historic usage. It has architectural significance due to its large degree of integrity and use of concrete construction for both external and internal walls. Many of the building's internal fixtures and fittings have survived the passage of time and change of use from residential to commercial. Historically the Braemar Flats was constructed in 1924-1925 at the beginning of a building boom that helped transform Wellington into a modern city. There is also historic value or significance in the use of the lower floor as a doctors' consultancy. A number of notable people have lived in the Braemar Flats and it is also associated with Brandons, one of Wellington's oldest law firms.
The Braemar Flats were constructed in 1924-1925 at the beginning of a building boom that helped transform Wellington into a modern city. On the Terrace, where the Braemar Flats are located, large houses that once dominated the landscape were removed to make way for larger flats and offices. This construction boom was aided by advances in technology, in particular the use of reinforced concrete and steel, allowing stronger and taller buildings to be built to withstand earthquakes.
The use of part or all of the Braemar Flats ground floor as a doctor's consultancy is also of value historically. In the nineteenth century and early twentieth centuries medical practitioners mainly had their consulting rooms in their own homes, as evidenced by the Dr Leonard George Boor residence, or Rawson's home (now the Rainey Collins Building). Later doctors began to gather together in shared offices, culminating in Wellington with the construction of the very large Kelvin House (1927-1928) with its purpose-built medical facilities. The collection of these buildings along the lower Terrace, with addition of the British Medical Association building, tells a significant part of the story of the development of private practice in New Zealand medical history.
There is also some historical value in the number of notable people who lived in the Braemar Flats. A number of senior public servants, such as Brook and Miles, members of Wellington's old families such as Plimmer, and distinguished lawyers such as Supreme Court Judge Sir John Reed. In times past people such as these would have lived in houses along the Terrace (or in other such areas in the city).
The association with Brandons, one of Wellington's oldest law firms is also important. Brandons has been based in the Braemar Flats for over thirty years. The Braemar Flats are not very far from the birthplace of the firm - Brandon's Corner, where Alfred de Bathe Brandon established his first offices some 160 years ago.
AESTHETIC SIGNIFICANCE OR VALUE:
Its contribution to the streetscape of The Terrace is highly significant; both as regards its size, scale and aesthetic appeal, and the glimpse it and other nearby structures pre-dating 1940 provide of a different pattern of historic usage. The building has visual appeal for its distinctive principal façade, which is in marked contrast with much of the surrounding architecture. The oriel window at each level above the ground floor is a decorative element within the two principal elevations, but it is also a highly functional one. Furthermore the oriel windows in combination with the clay tile roof of the fifth floor addition convey to the passerby an impression of domestic architecture, which has been almost entirely erased at the northern end of The Terrace.
ARCHITECTURAL SIGNIFICANCE OR VALUE:
The architectural significance of the Braemar Flats resides to a large degree in the building's integrity; it has been well maintained despite a change of use from primarily a place of residence to a place of business. The exterior of the building is almost entirely as it would have appeared on completion of the 1927 roof-top addition, save for the relocated doorway on the street frontage and for the slightly intrusive appearance of some replacement windows. On the interior many of the original fixtures and fittings remain, including tile floors, elevator, doorframes and fireplaces.
The building's concrete construction is important as regards the appearance of each elevation, as it would have encouraged a simplified and largely planar façade treatment compatible with the capabilities of timber formwork and poured concrete.
Summary of Assessed Criteria
Section 23 (2) Assessment:
(a) The extent to which the place reflects important or representative aspects of New Zealand history:
The history of the Braemar Flats reflects several important or representative aspects of New Zealand history. Firstly, the Braemar Flats were part of the building boom of the 1920s and 1930s that saw New Zealand's capital city transform into a modern metropolis of tall office buildings and apartment dwellings.
Secondly, the use of the ground floor of the Braemar Flats as a doctors' consultancy for over 40 years is also important. Together with nearby buildings, the Braemar Flats tells the story of the development of private practice in New Zealand medical history, from the nineteenth century practice of consulting rooms in doctors' houses (such as Dr Boor's), to shared offices (Braemar) and then purpose built medical practices (Kelvin House).
(b) The association of the place with events, persons, or ideas of importance in New Zealand history:
The Braemar Flats have been occupied by a number of individuals of note in New Zealand history. These include prominent doctors such as Dr Alan Park. Park is credited with playing an important role in settling a dispute between the Labour Government and the medical profession concerning the introduction of social security benefits. He also sat on the Cleary Committee (Medical Service Committee); the decisions of this committee had an enduring effect on New Zealand's general medical services system.
Senior civil servants such as Thomas Brook, the Valuer-General, and P. V. Miles, Chief Engineer of the Post Office lived in the Braemar Flats. The latter is credited with working on the first radio installation on Tinakori Hill and the first fully automatic exchange in New Zealand. He was also responsible for the planning and preparation of the first coaxial telephone cable across Cook Strait prior to World War II.
Supreme Court Judge Sir John Reed also appears to have been a resident of the building for a short while.
In more recent years the Braemar Flats have contained the offices of Brandons, one of Wellington's oldest law firms and during the 1980s Thomas Eichlebaum Q C (later Sir Thomas and Chief Justice of New Zealand (1989-1990) had rooms in the building.
(g) The technical accomplishment or value, or design of the place:
The reinforced and breeze block concrete construction of the Braemar Flats is important as it represents the increasing popularity of concrete construction in Wellington's CBD in the inter-war period. It is also a key factor in the architectural styling of the building, encouraging a simplification of wall elements and hampering internal modifications that would have undermined its authenticity.
(k) The extent to which the place forms part of a wider historical and cultural complex or historical and cultural landscape:
The Braemar Flats make a significant contribution to a wider historical and cultural landscape in two main ways.
The Braemar Flats are part of a group of four structures pre-dating 1940 (St Andrew's Presbyterian, NZ Medical Association and the former Dr Boor's house). Together these buildings make a notable, historic contribution to a built environment that is dominated by high-rise Modernist office buildings, most of them erected during the 1980s.
The Braemar Flats can be included among a number of buildings on the northern end of The Terrace which are historically associated with medical practices. Together they tell part of the story of the development of private practice in New Zealand medical history from the mid nineteenth century to the late twentieth century.
SUMMARY OF SIGNIFICANCE OR VALUES:
This place was assessed against, and found it to qualify under the following criteria: a, b, g, k
It is considered that this place qualifies as a Category II historic place.
HISTORICAL DESCRIPTION AND ANALYSIS:
The Braemar Flats are located on the western side of The Terrace. The Terrace - as its name suggests, was a naturally formed terrace at the back of Lambton Quay. During the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries The Terrace was a favoured location for residences of some of Wellington's wealthy citizens. However, as the city began to develop, The Terrace slowly transformed into an area accommodating commerce as well as flats and apartments. This was particularly the case during the decade following World War One.
WELLINGTON'S BUILDING BOOM OF THE 1920s:
During the 1920s Wellington underwent a major building boom unprecedented since the first years of the establishment of the city eighty years before. The boom was facilitated by an economy relieved from the doldrums of the war years, and a resulting change in the labour market that saw an increase in the number of people being employed in service-orientated jobs as opposed to primary production. One of the more noted aspects of the building boom was the rise in multi-storey reinforced concrete buildings.
In the late nineteenth century the ever-present fear of earthquakes had meant that Wellingtonians had been cautious of building large masonry structures. By the beginning of the twentieth century changes in building technology, particularly in the use of reinforced concrete and steel, meant that buildings could be built taller and stronger. In addition insurance companies offered the incentive of lower fire premiums to those who constructed in materials other than timber. Other factors that influence the construction of high rise buildings in Wellington at this time were the limited availability of suitable land for expansion of the city and increasing land taxes that reduced the value of older and smaller buildings. As a result, many two-storey buildings in Wellington's central business district were demolished and replaced by multi-storey office blocks.
Elsewhere in the city, for example Te Aro, residential areas were put under pressure to make way for factories and warehouses. To accommodate the loss of residential dwellings, a number of apartment blocks were erected along Oriental Parade, the Terrace and Te Aro.
Government spending on large building projects revived the building boom of the 1920s, although the building boom was temporarily halted by the Depression. In total between 1919 and 1939 more than 200 new buildings (excluding houses) were constructed in Wellington's central business district. Among that number were 32 apartment buildings, including the Braemar Flats. (This number does not include apartments erected on Oriental Parade).
THE CONSTRUCTION OF THE BRAEMAR FLATS:
In April 1924 Henry John Jones and John Cameron, builders, acquired part of Town Acre 471 from the Presbyterian Property Trustees. The latter had recently constructed a new church (St Andrew's Church on the Terrace, 1922-1923, Category I historic place No.3571) on the adjacent land (Town Acre 472) following the destruction of the previous church by fire in 1920. Jones and Cameron had already submitted to the Wellington City Council in January of that year a plan to erect a block of flats.
Designed by the Wellington-based architectural firm of Crichton, McKay and Haughton (see biography below), Braemar Flats was planned as a five-storey building with a service level containing a box room and services, and four storeys of residential space. Each storey above the ground floor was be identical in layout, containing three flats. The front and back flats contained two bedrooms, while the flat facing north (overlooking St Andrews Church) contained only one bedroom.
The Braemar Flats bears an outwardly striking similarity to Inverleith Flats on Oriental Parade. The latter was designed by Frederick de Jersey Clere and Llewellyn E. Williams and built in 1922. Built only three years before Braemar Flats, it is regarded as one of the earliest apartment buildings in Wellington. It is not known exactly when the construction of the Braemar Flats was completed, but it was probably between 1924-1925. At that time the east side of The Terrace (from Bowen Street) contained a mixture of residential houses, schools (e.g. Wellesley College, Banks College), religious buildings (St Andrews, the Synagogue, and the Congregational Church), and medical practices. However, the Braemar Flats were certainly one of the first (if not the first) such multi-storey apartment buildings erected on the Terrace. A survey of the Post Office Directories for the years 1924-1925 indicates that most of the residential accommodation was houses. There were boarding houses and clearly some houses had been divided into two or three separate flats. However, there is no evidence that a large scale apartment building of the type that the Braemar represents was built before Braemar.
In 1925 Jones and Cameron joined with William Tripe and Eva Jones to form Braemar Flats Limited. Tripe lived at 23 Bolton Street, which the Braemar Flats backs on to. It is almost certain that Tripe was the son of Dr William Tripe, a prominent doctor in Wellington in the late nineteenth century. Although the shareholders changed over time, the company essentially remained a family business owning and managing the Braemar Flats for the next forty years.
The first record for Braemar Flats in the Post Office directories was for the year 1928, which suggests that by sometime in 1927 the building was fully tenanted. Intriguingly the 1928 directory suggest that the building was not built to plan or, shortly after construction was finished, part of the ground floor was converted for use as a medical specialist's consulting rooms. Other changes to the building at this time were the construction of caretaker's accommodation and another flat or penthouse on the roof of the building in 1927. The plans that exist for this addition are for a caretaker's accommodation and the provision of two further rooms connected to via a staircase to the Terrace facing flat on the fourth floor below. It is most likely the latter was abandoned in favour of a penthouse - as later plans and Post Office Directories show.
BRAEMAR FLATS AS A MEDICAL CHAMBERS 1925-1970s:
The medical chambers were first occupied by Dr Alan Park (1897-1971). Park may have had a surgery on this site prior to the building of Braemar. Park was a prominent figure in New Zealand medical circles during the mid twentieth century. At the time he had his private practice on the Terrace he was honorary surgeon to the children's division of Wellington Hospital (1925-1930) and then honorary assistant surgeon at Wellington Hospital (1930-1940). During World War II he served in the New Zealand Medical Corps. He was elected honorary general secretary of the New Zealand Branch of the British Medical Association in 1941, but was only active in that office from 1944-1947 due to his military service. He resumed his practice in 1944 and became senior visiting surgeon to the Hutt Hospital (1944-1947), later moving to Tauranga in 1947. He is credited with playing an important role in settling a dispute between the Labour Government and the medical profession concerning the introduction of social security benefits. He also sat on the Cleary Committee (Medical Service Committee); the decisions of this committee had an enduring effect on New Zealand's general medical services system.
Over the years other medical practitioners also used the ground floor of the Braemar Flats as consulting rooms. Among these were Dr Frank Leo Hutter (1910-1985), Dr. Robert Welton Hogg (?-1961), Maxwell John Lovie (1938- 2000) and Richard Thomas Aldridge (1930-1999) all of whom had prestigious careers in their chosen profession.
The use of the northern end of the Terrace for doctor's surgeries was not new. Nearby is 22 The Terrace (Formerly Christian Science Sunday School, Category I historic place No. 220), which was built in 1866 for Dr Leonard George Boor and used as his surgery. It remained a doctor's consulting rooms until 1930 when it was sold for a hotel development that was later abandoned. Across the road and slightly further up the Terrace is the Rainey Collins Building (or Woodward Chambers, Category II historic place No. 3616). This masonry building was built in 1906 for Mr H Rawson, a prominent dentist, as a residence and surgery. Interestingly Crichton and McKay also designed this building.
However, in the 1920s there was a marked increase in the number of doctor's surgeries on the lower northern end of the Terrace and this may have been partly brought about by the construction in 1912 of the private Bowen Hospital, in nearby Bowen Street. In 1927-1928 the Medical Chambers Ltd constructed Kelvin House at 16 The Terrace, replacing another doctor's surgery (that of Dr. William Herbert). Medical Chambers was a company of medical practitioners who had collected together to provide medical and dental facilities in one place. Later, in 1938, the British Medical Association built its first permanent offices on the site once occupied by the manse of St Andrews Church (26 The Terrace).
BRAEMAR FLATS 1925-1970s:
A remarkable variety of people lived in the Braemar Flats and most were probably well to do. Among their number were civil servants, company managers and directors, accountants and nurses, as well as a number of widows.
For example, two prominent civil servants, Thomas Brook and P. V. Miles, lived in the Braemar Flats. Brook, who had a flat on the third floor, was a surveyor by training and at the time he lived in Braemar Flats he was the Valuer-General, a position he held from 1925 to 1934. P. V. Miles, who lived on the fourth floor in the mid 1930s, was appointed superintending engineer of the Post Office in 1935 and Chief Engineer in 1939. He is credited with working on the first radio installation on Tinakori Hill and the first fully automatic exchange in New Zealand. He was also responsible for the planning and preparation of the first coaxial telephone cable across Cook Strait prior to World War II.
Other notable occupants were Sir John Reed (Judge of the Supreme Court 1921-1936), Ms Anna M Plimmer, and a master mariner by the name of J Mawson.
CONVERSION TO OFFICE ACCOMMODATION 1965 -:
In December 1963 the property was sold to a Phyllis Mary Jessen and the following year Braemar Flats Limited was wound up. By this time the original shareholders had died and their shares had been passed to (mainly) family members. Jessen sold the flats to Crestaire Properties in 1965 and from about this date the occupancy of the building became increasingly commercial. By 1971 only two of its long-term residents, a Mrs Bannerman (who lived on the fourth floor) and a Mrs Agnes Duncan (who lived on the fifth floor) remained in residence. They shared the building with the New Zealand Institute of Valuers, Dalgety New Zealand Ltd (premises division), the Consulate General of the Peoples Republic of Bulgaria and, for a time, the architect William Lavelle. The doctor's consultancy rooms remained on the ground floor.
BRANDONS 1975 -:
In August 1975 the Braemar Flats were acquired by a group of solicitors perhaps best known as Brandons. Brandons is one of Wellington's oldest law firms, having its origins in the practice begun by Alfred de Bathe Brandon (1809-1886) who arrived in Wellington in 1840 as one of the New Zealand Company settlers. He set up business at what became Brandon's Corner, at the corner of Lambton Quay and Bowen Street, not far from the Braemar Flats. Over time Brandons had a number of changes of name, personnel, partners and buildings.
Brandons did not occupy the whole of the Braemar Flats, but appears to have established a chambers in the building, leasing part to various other lawyers including Thomas Eichlebaum Q C (later Sir Thomas and Chief Justice of New Zealand (1989-1990)).
In 1989 the Braemar Flats were sold to Selmisia Holdings Limited which was owned by Donald Forsyth, one of the solicitors who jointly acquired the building in August 1975. In 1992 ownership was transferred to Braemar Holdings, which is owned by Forsyth and David Underwood. Throughout this time Brandons has remained in the Braemar Flats. Today the firm is simply known as Brandons and the Braemar Flats appear as part of their logo.
- Original Construction: 1924 (circa)
- Addition: 1927 (circa)
- Modification: 1976 (circa)
- Modification: 1976 (circa)
- Modification: 1988 (circa)
- Modification: 1988 (circa)
Concrete rendered with cement stucco; specifications describe reinforcing with steel rods and partition (internal) walls to be constructed from 'breeze concrete blocks'. Also steel-framed windows, timber (specifications list Totara, Rimu, and Oregon for all joinery), and Marseilles tiles on the penthouse roof.
The building appears to conform to the architects' specifications; the concrete breeze block walls are visible in the ground floor strong room, which is designated as a laundry on the original architectural drawings.
- Archives New Zealand (Wellington),CO-W 1/282,1 Braemar Flats Limited, (1925/1)
- Evening Post
- Frances Irvine Smith, Streets of My City, Reed, Wellington, 1948
- D. Kernohan and T. Kellaway, Wellington's Old Buildings, Wellington, 1995
- New Zealand Historical Atlas,McKinnon, Malcolm (ed.), with Barry Bradley and Russell Kirkpatrick, New Zealand Historical Atlas, Bateman/Historical Branch
- New Zealand Surveyor, New Zealand Institute of Surveyors, Wellington.
- New Zealand Medical Journal,New Zealand Medical Association, Wellington
- New Zealand Post Office Directory,1925-1990
- John Wilson (ed.), Zeal and Crusade: The Modern Movement in Wellington, Te Waihora Press, Christchurch, 1996,pp-15-20.
- Geoffrey Thornton, Cast in Concrete: Concrete Construction in New Zealand 1850-1939, Auckland, 1996
- Wellington City Council,Wellington City Council Heritage Building Inventory, Wellington City Council 2001; 00055:24:A2350, Wellington Terrace [32 The Terrace], erect building, Owner: Jones & Cameron. Builder: Jones & Cameron. Legal description: Part Lot 1 DP 6645, 05 Jan 1924
00056:35:B3454, Wellington Terrace [32 The Terrace], addition to flats, Owner: Jones and Cameron. Builder: Jones and Cameron. Legal description: Part Town Acre 471 [Part Lot 1 DP 6645]. Application value: £500. Note: Erect caretaker's flat, 22 Jun 1927
00058:0:C67295 , 32 The Terrace, build new boardroom on top floor, Owner: Brandons. Builder: T Meek Ltd. Legal description: Part Lot 1 DP 6645. Application value: $45,120, 19 Feb 1985
00058:448:C19245, 32 The Terrace, parking area, Legal description: Sec 471 DP 6645. Owner: Crestaire Properties Ltd. Builder: OH Rees. Application value: £1248, 07 Apr 1966
00058:1013:C44237, 32 The Terrace, additions and alterations, Owner: Braeman Partnership. Builder: T Meek Ltd. Legal description: Part Lot 1 DP 6645. Application value: $3,450. Note: contains complete elevation plans, 18 Dec 1975
00058:1035:C45102, 32 The Terrace, alterations, level 5, Owner: Braeman Partnership. Builder: S J Carpenter Ltd. Legal description: Part Lot 1 DP 6645. Application value: $3,100, 12 May 1976
00059:220:D10275, 32 The Terrace, business additions and alterations, Owner: W Wild. Builder: Tom Meek. Legal description: Part Lot 1 DP 6645. Application value: $4,000, 1988
00059:233:D10738, 32 The Terrace, business additions and alterations, Owner: Braemar Partnership. Builder: T Meek Ltd. Legal description: Part Lot 1 DP6645. Application value: $7,400, 1988
00277:1046:2, Building: 32 The Terrace: Brandons, 1984-1993
00523:50:71/2123, The Terrace, St Andrews Church and 28-32 The Terrace, Braemar Building, 1966
00009:240:6/3163, Building, 32 The Terrace, Braemar Flats, 1975-1991
00009:788:38/253, Car Park, 32 The Terrace, Crestacre Properties Ltd, St Andrews Presbyterian Church, 1965-1968
00032:14:TPA 24/8, Objections To The Code Of Ordinances Affecting 32 The Terrace (1-8), 1967-1968
00041:4:DSR 2/112, 16 and 32 The Terrace - Braemar Partnership - Street Widening Affecting The Property, 1979-1981, Wellington City Council Archives
A fully referenced registration report is available from the NZHPT Central Region Office
Report Written By
H McCracken and Dr A McEwan
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