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.
Read more

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.

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]

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

[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.

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


Filed under Architecture, Business, Construction, Design, Economics, Geography, Heritage, Heritage NZ, Inspiration, Name, New Zealand, NZHPT, People, Politics, Project management, Property, Site, Town planning, Urban design

11 responses to “No temporary cover: historic Stavely Building of Dunedin

  1. Elizabeth

    Peter Entwisle provides additional notes to the building description:

    1. Otago Daily Times, 12 April 1878, p.3b:
    Building Improvements in the City.
    Within the last day or two the erection has been begun of what will prove a worthy addition to the substantial class of buildings which for the most part adorn Bond street and its neighbourhood. We refer to Mr Stavely’s new warehouse, which will fill a hitherto unoccupied block of ground at the corner of Bond and Jetty streets, opposite Messrs R. Wilson and Co.’s place of business. The new building will be a four-storey one, having a frontage to Jetty street of 72ft. 6in., and to Bond street of 70ft., with an elevation to the latter street of 52ft., extending to 60ft. in its highest part, and will be built, the ground floor and basement out of our Port Chalmers stone, and the two upper floors of brick. It will have a substantial and warehouse-looking appearance. In the way of adornment Corinthian columns are to run between the windows, and above the main entrance in Bond street, on the top of the building, there will be an imitation of a huge shell, in place of the usual “pediment” consisting of the royal arms or something of a similar kind. This shell, we understand, is to be taken as a distant allusion to the fact that the proprietor at one time followed the naval profession. Upon it, in raised letters about three feet long, is to stand out in high relief the name of the owner, “Stavely”. Each floor of the warehouse is to be divided into two portions by a partition running the whole way up. The only things in the way of fittings included in the present contract are two hydraulic lifts; all office accommodation and other fittings are to be arranged after the building is completed.
    Mr U’Ren is the contractor, and the building is to be out of his hands in about eight months. Messrs Mason, Wales, and Stevenson are the architects.

    2. Otago Witness, 1 March 1905, p.65:
    A telegraph received from Blenheim yesterday announced the death of Mr. William Stavely, a former well-known resident of Dunedin. Late in the sixties Mr Stavely commenced business on his own account as a merchant, under the style of W. Stavely and Co., and later as Stavely Austin, and Co. The enterprise of the firm is shown in the fine building they erected for their business at the corner of Jetty and Bond streets, now occupied by Messrs A. Moritzson and Co. On the dissolution of the firm Mr Stavely went to Wellington, and afterwards to Blenheim, where he died. He was closely connected with the Volunteer movement in Dunedin in its early days, and was for some years captain of the Dunedin navals. He was eventually appointed to command the Dunedin district, retiring with the honorary rank of colonel. Deceased, who was about 77 years of age, is survived by a widow and grown-up family.

    3. Otago Witness, 7 February 1895, p.11:
    City Improvements
    Moritzson and Hopkin’s new Premises
    Messrs Moritzson and Hopkin, grain seed and produce agents of this city, whose business has, consequent upon the increased production of the colony, been expanding from year to year, have found it necessary to secure larger business premises in order to enable them more favourably to compete for the farmer’s support, and have purchased from the Bank of New Zealand’s Assets Company the well-known and handsome pile, situated at the corner of Bond and Jetty streets, and formerly known as Stavely’s Bond. This building, which is a comparatively new one, has a frontage of 74ft to Bond street and 78ft to Jetty street. The original cost of the erection of the warehouse was some £9,000, and Messrs Moritzson and Hopkin, to render it suitable to the purpose of their business, have expended an additional £1,000 upon internal alterations to it and upon machinery. A grain elevator communicating between the cellar and the third flat – a distance of 64ft – has been put in, and a grass seed cleaning machine, designed and constructed by Mr. T.E. Kilworth, milling engineer, of Ashburton, forms a valuable adjunct. Both the elevator and the grass seed plant are driven by a Tangye’s gas engine of nine indicated horsepower of the latest type. The engine is fitted with Pinkrey’s patent attachment, and runs smoothly and noiselessly. The warehouse, which is vermin-proof, has a capacity of some 25,000 sacks of grain. So that the building might safely bear the weight of such a load, Messrs Moritzson and Hopkin found it necessary to make substantial changes to the structure. The commodious cellar, which is 7ft 6in in height and has a concrete floor, is to be used for the storage of potatoes and dairy produce. Each of the 30 storey posts was removed here and fresh foundations of concrete, measuring 4ft 6in square by 6ft deep, were substituted, going down to solid bottom, after which the pillars were replaced. A cart dock has been formed up from the cellar, and a lorry or dray can now enter the building from Bond street and discharge its contents on to the elevator; while as there is a shoot alongside the elevator, the cart way can be utilised also for delivering produce. A little further to the south, a level crossing – formed like the cart dock, of wooden blocks – has been laid down by the corporation, so that carts can back up to the building and goods can be unloaded or received here also, there being a shoot at the door. The shoots in the premises start on the third flat, and bags which are shot down thence turn half a somersault, on reaching the second flat, or else fall or glide into the next shoot, down which they are slid direct into the drays. Thus, only one man is required to load a day [sic] from the flat, and so as to give him warning that a sack is descending electric bells have been fitted up, by means of which he is cautioned at the door of discharge to be ready to receive the produce. The first floor which is level with the streetline and is 16ft 6in high, is divided into three portions. One portion is devoted to public and private offices and the saleroom; another is the dairy produce and fruit department; and the third portion is occupied with heavy goods such as cornsacks, woolpacks, wheat, and barley. The kauri pillars have been removed from this floor and placed on the second floor so as to strengthen the upper flat and enable it, if necessary, to have grain stored in it right up to its roof. Specially-selected ironbark pillars have replaced the kauri pillars referred to. The second floor is 14ft 6in in height, and is utilised for the storage of oats, while the third floor is given up to oats and agricultural seeds, a portion of the space being entirely devoted to the cleaning of the seeds. The cleaning machine is expected to efficiently clean 40 to 50 sacks in 12 hours, and Messrs Moritzson and Hopkin, having already received promises from farmers and Dunedin firms of 6,000 sacks to clean, propose running day and night shifts with it. A large branch of the firm’s business is the cockatoo trade, which is carried on in Lyttelton, the farmers of Banks Peninsula being their clients. Mr Moritzson pays a yearly visit to the peninsula, compiling statistics and assisting the farmers. Last season the firm handled, they assure us, 9000 out of a possible 16,000 clean sacks of cocksfoot, and, owing to a shortage of crops, values went up in the colony to 61/2d per lb, and returns from England showed the value to be 72s per cwt. The cleaning of this seed was entrusted to Mr. C.L. Wheeler, of Christchurch, all the seed being stored in Lyttelton and sold by the firm from samples in Dunedin. Throughout Messrs Moritzson and Hopkin’s new warehouse the pillars in all the flats have been numbered, so that any of the clerks may without delay point out where any of the lines or parcels of grain or seed are stacked. Mr. F. Lyders was entrusted with effecting the alterations to the building, Messrs Cossens and Black constructed the grain elevator, Messrs Omand and Drew were the contractors for the painting and the plumbing was carried out by Messrs Renfree, Walmsley and Thomson, in connection with whose work special attention was paid to sanitation, the sewer gas even being carried away through the roof. The whole of the alterations were designed by Mr James Hislop, architect, under whose supervision they were executed.”

    4. According to Knight & Wales the building “was considered to be one of the finest warehouses in the city” and was regarded as an example of “Roman classical architecture”.

    5. For some considerable period the building was owned by Adolph Moritzson, a man of German culture and a patron of the Dunedin Public Art Gallery, whose name was visible on the building for many years.

    Peter Entwisle
    3 April 2008

    • Elizabeth

      Interestingly, Peter says:

      “I re-read the long description of the modifications in 1895. It’s astonishing the detail they went into and of course it reads now as what it is: a period piece. £9,000 pounds was a lot of money to spend building a commercial warehouse in 1879. The Municipal Chambers cost £20,000 at the same time and was a very opulent building.”

      “Comparative contemporary costs are interesting. They help to put things in perspective. It’s very difficult trying to calculate for inflation over such a long time. (There are some handy tables somewhere but they vary a bit from place to place.) At the time Stavely’s Bond was built, a University of Otago Professor earned about £400 pounds a year. Nowadays they tend to earn around $120,000 I think. I don’t know how Otago salaries compared with overseas ones then. But the 1879 professorial salary is another figure which gives some meaning to the £9,000 it cost to build the warehouse.”

      • Elizabeth

        ### ODT Online Sat, 19 Jun 2010
        Stavely Building sold
        By Stu Oldham
        An historic Dunedin building damaged by fire more than two years ago has been sold to a city-based developer. Purvis Investments has bought the 122-year-old Stavely Building, on the corner of Bond and Jetty Sts. Company director Bruce Purvis said he hoped the sale would end speculation over the building’s future. The company had “no intention of pulling it down, put it that way”.

        A new roof would be built to help arrest deterioration.

        Read more

        • Elizabeth

          Dunedin City Council
          Media Release

          14 December 2010

          Rates Relief for Heritage Building

          The Dunedin City Council has approved 50% rates relief for the re-use of the fire-damaged heritage building at 5 Jetty Street.

          The building, built in 1879, and designed by renowned Dunedin architect Nathanial Young Armstrong Wales, was extensively damaged by fire in March 2008 and has remained empty since.

          Cr Syd Brown, Chairman of the Finance, Strategy and Development Committee, says the successful application by new owner Purvis Investments Ltd for rates relief reflects the Council’s strategy to preserve the North Princes Street/Moray Place/Exchange townscape precinct.

          It is the latest in a series of rates relief grants in the area to projects re-using heritage buildings. These include the former BNZ building, 19 Bond Street, the former Rogan McIndoe building and the former National Mortgage Agency Company building.

          Along with assistance from the Dunedin Heritage Fund, the grants are assisting both the viability of such projects, and the gathering momentum for the rejuvenation of the area.

          Purvis Investments plans to redevelop 5 Jetty Street and is in the process of applying for appropriate consents. The approved rates relief grant is valued at $1776.27 over three years.

          Contact DCC on 477 4000.

          DCC page link

  2. Stu

    $1776.27 over 3 years?
    Is this a typo?
    Surely we didn’t convene an expensive consent, application and committee process to approve a sum of < $2K?
    That's not even the coffee budget for 3 years.

    • Elizabeth

      Stu, I checked with DCC because I had the same thought… it’s actually half their general rates (see distractedscientist’s comment). The figure in the media release is correct.

  3. Firstly, I just looked at the Rates guide. Annual rates of $2191.91. What they are receiving is a 50% discount on the general rates portion only ($1184.19) for three years. So in effect, a reduction from $2191.91 to $1599.82. Most people would consider this a 25% discount.

    We can perhaps enjoy also the irony that they are still paying $177 pa for their fire protection water rate. Worth noting that the remaining structure is currenlty valued at $0, which may be taken into account in the making of the actual decision.

    However, to take up your actual point, yes, it appears that we did do all that to approve a sum so embarrassingly small that it barely seems like any incentive at all. This seems like a safe thread to make this point on, but with all the great calls for openness, accountability, and transparency; these things come at a very real cost.

  4. Elizabeth

    The building owners have been doing a pretty amazing job after the fire. This is a redevelopment with some aspects of restoration and building conservation.

    Jinters took some pics at the last Hazelton-organised site visit to Stavely Building on 4 Sept. Gee, although I was sent the invite, note I’ve not been on the DCC invite list for quite some time, Ohhh I wonder why :))

    She says:
    “Yesterday we had an opportunity to view the work-in-progress that is the conversion of the fire-damaged Stavely building (corner Jetty and Bond Sts) into a suite of modern apartments. The developers have done a really remarkable job, especially given the considerable damage the building had suffered, and it will be some lucky people who end up as tenants there next year (they will be complete by the end of the year). Their Heritage Grant has been used to achieve heritage features like the doors in the second picture….”

    She doesn’t say which “Heritage Grant” – from DCC or the independently administered Dunedin Heritage Fund, or some other – would we ever know?

    Jinters has (7) photos are available for download at

    JM Stavely 4.9.14 (1)JM Stavely 4.9.14 (7)JM Stavely 4.9.14 (6)JM Stavely 4.9.14 (5)JM Stavely 4.9.14 (4)JM Stavely 4.9.14 (3)JM Stavely 4.9.14 (2)

    (3) Photos by @mountainguynz (Glen Hazelton) via Twitter/Tumblr
    GH Stavely 8.9.14 (1)GH Stavely 8.9.14 (3)GH Stavely 8.9.14 (2)

  5. Elizabeth

    The Stavely Building (built 1879) in Jetty St is being returned to its “pretty elaborate” former state after a fire in 2008. The building was originally on Dunedin’s foreshore.

    ### ODT Online Fri, 19 Dec 2014
    Up from the ashes
    By Kim Dungey
    The historic Stavely Building on the corner of Bond and Jetty Sts is being refurbished as an apartment complex after a suspicious early morning fire engulfed the premises in March 2008. The property is one of the latest and most prominent buildings in Dunedin’s warehouse precinct to be adapted to a new use. From 1895 into the early 20th century, the building housed grain, seed and produce agents A. Moritzon and Co (originally Moritzon and Hopkin), who installed a grain elevator to connect the basement with the third floor, a cart dock in the cellar and a seed cleaning machine.
    Read more

    The former warehouse, also known as the Moritzson Building, is registered by Heritage New Zealand as a Category 2 historic place (List No. 4752); and its facades are protected under the district plan.

    ● More photos at post (19.10.14) Dunedin: Randoms from inside warehouse precinct 18.10.14

    Tiny Flaws for Adaptive Reuse
    The downfall of the Stavely redevelopment*, since it’s not full building ‘conservation’ (involving high attendance to restoration and preservation), is the poor detailing and proportioning of the atrium. ‘Light in’ is enabling; however, the narrowness of the walkways and thinness of the steel frame supports undermine any idea of ‘Victorian robustness and stability’. This is contrary to the groundedness of the building seen in street perspective. Someone didn’t understand the existing building’s architectural language… residential design is imposed and undermined by contemporary reliance on Gibraltar board for nesting boxes —and the idea missed, aside from roof decks provided, that faced with an internal balcony you might as well have room to place a wine table and comfortable seating in the sun, instead of precarious seeming, tiered walking tracks off brick walls to the void.

    *In the same way DCC’s Dunedin Railway Station was a redevelopment.

  6. Elizabeth

    Dunedin developments in running for national awards

    Finalists in the Property Council New Zealand’s annnual awards include Dunedin’s The Stavely Building Apartments (finalist for two awards), cnr Bond and Jetty Sts.

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