Historic Place Category 1
Sec 27, Pt Sec 28 Blk LV DP 679 (CTs OT37657 and OT55980), Otago Land District
Extent of Registration
Extent includes the land described as Sec 27, Pt Sec 28 Blk LV DP 679 (CTs OT37657 and OT55980), Otago Land District, and the building known as the New Zealand Insurance Company Building (Former) thereon, and its fittings and fixtures.
The New Zealand Insurance Company was formed in Auckland in 1859 after a particularly bad fire swept through the town in 1858.It was the first underwriting company to be formed in the colony and its instigator was an Auckland solicitor, Thomas Russell. The directors were a group of Auckland businessmen concerned about their property. Branches were opened in Napier, New Plymouth, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin in 1861 - and in London. (Overseas expansion was rapid). Within five years the firm had outstripped the New Zealand branches of British companies operating in the colony. In 1885 it took out a 21 year lease on a section of the massive reclamation belonging to the Otago Harbour Board which stretched along the commercial frontage of the city from Queens Gardens to the Oval. On this important corner section NZI built its prestigious offices for the thriving goldfields city of Dunedin. It is a relatively large building for its period, being three stories high rather than the more usual two stories, and is a major building by Mason's partner, Nathanial Wales. The building has been recently renovated by Nigel L Brook, its new owner, and its office space brought up-market. Mr Brook was given an NZHPT award of merit by the Otago Regional Committee at its AGM 1987.
The classical effect is obtained by repetition of fairly simple classical pilasters of three different designs linked by cornices at each level.
An important façade within the Queens Gardens Conservation Area, forming an important grouping with Airport House and the Gresham Hotel block further along Rattray Street.
Its classical façade.
ARCHITECTURAL DESCRIPTION (Style):
The style is classical renaissance.
The exterior is little modified except for the removal of the balustraded parapets and the removal of the NZI emblem of two kiwis under a tree fern from above the main door. (The emblem, which is a massive casting, is in the reception area of the new NZI Dunedin office, Manse Street). A new name, Queens Gardens Court, has been painted on the building.
- Original Construction: 1886 (circa)
The walls of the building are plastered brick with Oamaru stone for the decorative work. The roof is still covered with slates. The new building, when opened in 1886, had a handsome classical façade with ornate pilasters around doors and windows beneath heavy cornices. The parapet along the roof line originally had four triangular pediments with balustraded panels between them. The wider pillars have been moulded in alternate bolstered and reticulated blocks. The interior is not entirely modernised and the ornate plaster ceilings are still present. The main staircase retains a massive marble newel post and wooden wall panelling.
- L. Galer, Bricks and Mortar, Allied Press Ltd, Dunedin, 1982.
- New Zealand Insurance Company, Bold Century: 1859-1959, Auckland, 1959
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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