Historic Place Category 2
Located at the northern end of Queen Street, on the southeast corner of the intersection between Queen Street and Quay Street
Lots 117-119 DP 626, and DP 95035 (CT NA51A/760), North Auckland Land District
Extent of Registration
Extent includes the land described as Lots 117-119 DP 626, and DP 95035 (CT NA51A/760), North Auckland Land District, and the building known as Endeans Building thereon, and its fittings and fixtures.
Auckland Council (Auckland City Council)
Endeans Building is prominently located on Auckland’s waterfront and forms part of the maritime gateway to Queen Street, the city’s main commercial thoroughfare. Built in 1914-15, the initially six-storey structure is an early surviving example of a reinforced concrete building in Auckland, and reflects a period of optimism and prosperity at the beginning of the twentieth century.
The site initially formed part of a bay used by Maori, and contained a pipi bank known as Te Roukai. Called Commercial Bay by early colonial settlers, the area became part of Auckland’s main trading port and was successively re-claimed due to increasing pressure on land and the need for improved harbour facilities. Following reclamation of the southern part of the bay in 1859, the Auckland Harbour Board (AHB) undertook a major infilling north of Customs Street in 1879-86, acquiring title to land on the newly created waterfront at Quay Street by 1892. In 1904, a 50-year lease on the prime site at the corner of Quay and Queen Streets was acquired by John Endean, a Cornish-born mining speculator and businessman who had been one of the first ‘tributors’ on the Thames goldfield. Endean’s wife, Ellen (nee Phillips), had also been the first woman to stand for Auckland city council, a year after women’s suffrage was introduced in 1893.
An initial five-storey building designed by Edward Mahoney and Sons was erected on the site in 1905, but was largely destroyed by fire in March 1913. A replacement structure was almost immediately designed by architects Chilwell and Trevithick, who submitted plans for a six-storey building in October 1913. The new structure was to incorporate a steel frame, brick fillings and ferro-concrete floors to reduce the risk of fire. Reinforced concrete construction was comparatively unusual at the time, although the adjacent Queens Wharf had been erected using this material in 1907-13. In 1912, the Auckland Master Builders’ Association is reported to have strongly opposed the use of reinforced concrete when it was being employed for the Hotel Cargen, and engaged in a boycott. Visually, Endeans Building utilised aspects of Stripped Classical design as well as more ornate Edwardian architectural styles.
By February 1914, the contractor Messrs Craig Bros. had started strengthening the footings of the original building by driving additional piles 13.1 metres (43 feet) to bedrock, to support the additional weight. During construction work, the original street verandah was retained and it was stated that ground floor businesses would be able to continue trading until the new structure was almost complete. The new design was for nine shops on the ground floor level and ninety offices above. The interior included an impressive atrium rising all six stories; a marble floor and internal balconies; and at least one iron cage lift. After completion in 1915, ground-floor shops were tenanted by an outfitter, a bootmaker and a stationer, while occupants of the upper storeys included the Pukerimo Collieries Ltd., Auckland Farmers Freezing Company, and the head office of the Whangarei Freezing Company. By 1919, additional tenants included the National Dairy Association, the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron and the Mexican Consulate.
The building was erected in a busy part of the city, between the newly-built Queens Wharf and the Chief Post Office (1909-12). Located at the seaward entrance to the city, it formed a backdrop to many significant events including the departure of soldiers during the First World War (1914-18), a victory parade in 1919 following the end of the conflict; and the welcoming of royal visitors at the base of Queen Street in 1920. In 1913, Massey’s strike-breaking ‘Cossacks’ lined up outside the ruins of the first building during the Waterside Workers’ dispute.
Tragedy struck in February 1922 when four painters fell to their death through the atrium. In the same year, tenders were invited for the erection of a caretaker’s house on the roof of the building. Proposed modifications in the 1930s and 1940s included an addition to the caretaker’s accommodation and alterations to ground floor shops. The roof was also selected as the site of a Bofors gun during the Second World War (1939-45). During the mid 1990s, the building was freeholded from the Auckland Harbour Board and a further two levels were added in place of the caretaker’s house. Upper floors were converted to become an apartment complex known as The New Yorker. The ground floor continues to be used for commercial purposes, containing shops and food outlets.
Endeans Building has aesthetic value as an elegant and visually prominent component of the Auckland waterfront. It is historically significant for reflecting the commercial importance of the waterfront in the early twentieth century, and for its associations with significant organisations and notable events such as the Second World War. Architectural value is contributed by the building having been designed by leading architects Chilwell and Trevithick. It has technological importance as a comparatively early surviving example of a reinforced concrete building. It is particularly significant as an integral part of a notable late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century historical landscape along the waterfront, which includes the adjoining Chief Post Office, the Queens Wharf, the Ferry Building, and the harbourfront fence and gates - all of which were created within a few years of Endeans Building.
Information from Recommendation for Registration report for Quay St East Historic Area by Greg Bowron 28/11/92:
Endean's Building - 2 Queen St/Quay St (Category II)
1905 rebuilt 1920's.
7 storey (originally 6), concrete and reinforced steel construction,
"stripped classical" building designed by Chilwell & Trevithick.
- Original Construction: 1905 (circa)
- Demolished - Fire:
- Original Construction: 1914 (circa) - 1915 (circa)
- Addition: 1922 (circa)
- Modification: 1932 (circa)
- Modification: 1994 (circa)
- P. Cooke, Defending New Zealand; Ramparts on the Sea 1840-1950s, Wellington, 2000
- Cyclopedia Company, Industrial, descriptive, historical, biographical facts, figures, illustrations, Wellington, N.Z, 1897-1908, Vol.2, Christchurch, 1902
A fully referenced report is available from the NZHPT Mid Northern Regional office
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