Daily Archives: June 13, 2010

No temporary cover: historic Stavely Building of Dunedin

One of Dunedin’s finest ‘stately’ warehouse buildings is waiting to be saved.
From the archives…

### ODT Online Mon, 24 Aug 2009
Energy-saver bulb likely fire cause
By Debbie Porteous
A fire which severely damaged one of Dunedin’s historic buildings last year most likely started in a light fixture fitted with an energy-saver bulb, a fire service investigation has found. The Stavely Building in Jetty St, built in 1897*, was left uninhabitable after the March 30 fire. In addition to the damage to the building, several businesses, including the Dunedin Ballet School, a storage firm and a curtain maker, lost all or most of their equipment and stored goods. A joint police and fire investigation took place as there were reports of the premises being insecure when the fire was discovered.
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Since the March 2008 fire the building hasn’t been temporarily roofed or weather sealed. However, according to unnamed sources the building is structurally viable for conservation, restoration and adaptive reuse options. Sources say the owner is looking to sell the fire damaged building.

*The building is significantly older than the date given by the newspaper.

****

Local historian and curator Peter Entwisle provides a history of the building based on documentary sources. Photographs by Meg Davidson, Dunedin.

Location: Southwest corner of Bond St and Jetty St, 5 Jetty St, Dunedin.
Legal Description: Lot 16 Deeds 135
Owner: POS Developments Limited, Dunedin
Architect: Nathaniel Young Armstrong Wales (1832-1903) [1]
Built: April 1878 [2] to 1879 [3]
Name: Stavely’s Bond. [4]
Materials: First floor Port Chalmers breccia; brick rendered in plaster above; slate roof.

Description:
A boldly modelled commercial warehouse in a neo-classical style, the Stavely Building commands the southwest corner of Bond St and Jetty St. Its lower floor constructed of rusticated Port Chalmers breccia was originally unpainted and of a warm, milk chocolate colour. It is particularly finely textured with its contrasting dressed and unfinished surfaces constituting a tour de force of the mason’s craft. This exceptional quality and the stone’s natural colour were obscured when it was painted some years ago.

The first floor windows on the street fronts are pedimented and like those of the second floor are set between pilasters with Corinthian capitals. Above, there are high entablatures; below, cornices capped by balustrades. At the centre of each there were large triple shell-form pediments bearing the original proprietor’s name in large letters, in a rustic Victorian font, raised in high relief. The shells were originally supported by heraldic dolphins and those on Jetty St survive. On Bond St only the base of the shell remains.

Each street front carries the date “1879” in high relief at the centre of the ground floor. Intended to make a strong statement about vigour, prosperity and confidence the building is a cornerpiece and a landmark and represents the upper level of achievement in Victorian warehouse design in New Zealand.

The prominent use of heraldic beasts and figures and lettering as part of the ornamentation facades is unusual in New Zealand in the Victorian period. Two other buildings designed by the same partnership near this time also exhibit this feature: the Garrison Hall in Dowling St, now the premises of Natural History New Zealand Ltd [recently sold to property investor William Cockerill, Dunedin], for which Mason, Wales and Stevenson called for tenders in February 1878 [5]; and Wain’s Hotel on Princes St, started a few days after the Stavely building. [6]

Recent history:
On Sunday 30 March 2008, the building suffered a major fire, thought to be arson. It did considerable damage and was widely reported, on TV3 national news that night and in the Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday editions of the Otago Daily Times. There was no loss of life and it was brought under control. By Wednesday 2 April the Otago Southland area manager of the New Zealand Historic Places Trust had been advised that the building did not need to be demolished as a safety risk. [7]

NZHPT Registration:
Category 2 Historic Place – List No. 4752 [8]

Protections:
The building is scheduled in the Dunedin City District Plan (April 2004); the Bond St and Jetty St facades are protected. [9]

Footnotes:
[1] ODT 8 March 1878 p.3f. “Tenders are invited till Noon of Monday 18th inst., for the erection of a four storey stone and brick Warehouse at corner of Bond and Jetty Streets. Mason, Wales, & Stevenson, Architects.” In a telephone call to the writer on 13/3/09 Niel Wales, formerly of the partnership Mason & Wales and a descendant of Nathaniel Young Armstrong Wales (1832-1903), first of that name in the partnership, said the latter was the designer of Stavely’s Bond. He said the firm has drawings of many buildings from that time including this one; that they are not signed but he can tell from their style who drew them. He said his ancestor was also personally responsible for Wain’s Hotel, the Garrison Hall, the Princes Street building which is now Hayward’s auction house and the former New Zealand Insurance Co. building on the corner of Crawford and lower Rattray Streets.
[2] ODT 12 April 1878 p3b “Building Improvements in the City” states that “Mr. Stavely’s” new warehouse was started in the last “day or two”.
[3] The date is rendered in relief on the Jetty and Bond Street facades.
[4] OW 7 February 1895 p.11.
[5] ODT 8 February 1878 p.3d.
[6] ODT 19 April 1878 p.3b “New Buildings” states the tender has been let and names the architects.
[7] Personal communication Owen Graham District Manager New Zealand Historic Places Trust/Peter Entwisle 2/4/2008.
[8] It is registration number 4752 and was classified in 1986 as a category C historic place. Under the reformed system of classification that has become a category 2 registration. Personal communication Heather Bauchop, NZHPT Otago Southland area office, and Peter Entwisle. 3/4/2008.
[9] Dunedin City District Plan April 2004 Vol 2, site no. B010, map no. 49, Moritzson Building (formerly), address cnr Bond and Jetty Streets.

Bibliography:
Peter Entwisle, Treasures of the Dunedin Public Art Gallery Dunedin Public Art Gallery, 1990
Hardwicke Knight & Niel Wales, Buildings of Dunedin John McIndoe Ltd, Dunedin, 1988
Otago Daily Times Dunedin, 1861- [ODT]
Otago Witness Dunedin, 1851-1932 [OW]

Peter Entwisle
3 April 2008

Posted by Elizabeth Kerr

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