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Historic Place Category 1
Lot 1 DP 17134 Secs 52/54 Blk XVII Town of Dunedin
The Municipal Chambers upon its completion in 1880 was the most impressive town hall in New Zealand reflecting Dunedin's economic prosperity at the time. It is of historical significance as the seat of local government in Dunedin for over one hundred years.
Municipal Chambers is a major work by an architect of national importance. It is the only substantial town hall of the Victorian period remaining in New Zealand. It is a very well proportioned building incorporating crisp classical detailing and high quality craftwork. The latter is evident in the exterior stonework and the timber carved furniture and scrollwork of the main council chamber. Much of this craftwork is of a standard that would be very difficult and too expensive to produce today. Located in the heart of Dunedin in the Octagon, the building is an irreplaceable element in Dunedin's unique townscape of historic buildings.
With St Paul's Cathedral, Municipal Chambers is visually the most impressive structure in the Octagon. The original landmark qualities of the building have been reduced by the decapitation of the tall clock tower and the construction of high rise buildings nearby. Nevertheless the building remains an important and irreplaceable component in the central city townscape.
Clock made by Gillet and Bland of Croydon.
Furniture and scrollwork in the Council Chamber.
ARCHITECTURAL DESCRIPTION (Style)
A three storeyed Victorian Italianate building with a heavily rusticated ground floor and giant Corinthian pilasters extending through the first and second storeys. There are small dormered pavilion towers at the corners of the building, and in the centre of the façade, a high clock tower. The first storey windows are square-headed and aedicular and the second storey, round-arched . The general outline of the building, with its pavilion towers and very high clock tower, recalls 15th and 16th century town halls in the Netherlands and Belgium. Inside the Municipal Chambers there is a very elaborate council chamber with concave figured ceiling and ornate baldacchino made of various woods.
The main external modification is the removal of the upper part of the clock tower and its replacement by a rather crude aluminium cap. Other original details have also been removed from the main façade. Additions including a concert chamber and main hall were made to the rear of the building in 1929. Many interior spaces have been modernised.
- Original Construction: 1880 (circa)
- Addition: 1929 (circa)
Oamaru stone on a base of Port Chalmers stone.
- L. Galer, Bricks and Mortar, Allied Press Ltd, Dunedin, 1982.
- Otago Daily Times,24 May 1980
NZIA National Award Winner 1991
This historic place was registered under the Historic Places Act 1980. This report includes the text from the original Building Classification Committee report considered by the NZHPT Board at the time of registration.
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