Reed Building, 75 Crawford Street for demolition?

UPDATE Jul/Aug 2012
For restoration, building purchased by Dunedin businessman Lawrie Forbes.

Reed Building img_668011 (1)

Former Education Board/AH Reed/Skinners Building
75 Crawford St (cnr Jetty St), Dunedin
Owner: Wilden Holdings Limited. Director: John Peter Diggle.

7.4.10 D Scene alerts commercial building owners to responsibilities

Reed Building img_68081 (2)

### D Scene 16-2-11
Rocked and rolled? (page 1)
A prominent inner-city building may be demolished after having existing damage exacerbated by the Canterbury earthquake. See p3 #bookmark

Building may be demolished (page 3)
By Wilma McCorkindale
Disrepair of the historic AH Reed building in central Dunedin has been worsened by the Canterbury earthquake and it will probably be demolished, a spokesman for the owner says. A wall between the building and the neighbouring building, Sammy’s nightclub, was precarious and had caused Dunedin City Council to order the area to be taped off and repaired, the spokesman said.
{continued} #bookmark

Register to read D Scene online at

Reed Building img_67061 (1)

The above image shows the parapet side wall detaching. All external building damage was recorded on 20 February.


David Murray at Hocken Library provides the following:

The former Otago Education Board building (beside the Jetty St ramp to the railway overbridge) is one of few surving designs by architect John Somerville who designed many schools, almost all(?) now demolished.

There was a rather entertaining kerfuffle when the building was going up in 1897. See Papers Past at

The Otago Daily Times (4/9/1897) reports:
“The dispute at present raging in the Education Office appears to us to be a little of the storm in the teapot order. But it has some importance attached to it by very clearly revealing to the public the haphazard, happy-go-lucky manner in which the board is in the habit of conducting its business. The special matter in dispute needs but little comment. The board is building new offices, and members approve of plans for that purpose which have been laid before them by the architect.”

[What if? italics, there follows a long essay by the newspaper.]

The history of the building is very interesting. It includes the Education Board (1890s-1920s), though this organisation’s huge significance to Otago history is under appreciated these days. Then there was Reeds, from the 1920s, one of the great stories in New Zealand publishing.

See the comments of former building residents in response to my photograph at Facebook


The signs in the windows and on a door to Jetty Street read:

Images ©2011 Elizabeth Kerr

Posted by Elizabeth Kerr


Filed under Architecture, Construction, Design, Economics, Heritage, People, Politics, Site, Town planning, Urban design

18 responses to “Reed Building, 75 Crawford Street for demolition?

  1. peter

    If the AH Reed building is demolished it will mirror the Century theatre corner site. Those corner site buildings are so pivotal. Can nothing be done to save it?

  2. Elizabeth

    This building is not for demolition.
    It has recently changed hands.
    In previous weeks, What if? noticed more than a few searches for the property address; and again immediately prior to first leaks on who had bought it.

  3. Elizabeth

    See item 10 on the Agenda
    To be discussed in non public – Rates Relief for 75 Crawford Street

    25 July 2012
    DCC Finance, Strategy and Development committee meeting

    Agenda – FSD – 25/07/2012 (PDF, 75.4 KB)

  4. Elizabeth

    As we noted on 20 July, here is the detail.

    ### ODT Online Wed, 8 Aug 2012
    ‘Huge job’ of restoring Reed’s Building starts
    By Debbie Porteous
    Lawrie Forbes thinks he may really have done it this time. Because he could not stand by and see it turned into a car park, the developer of historic Dunedin buildings bought a dilapidated 115-year-old building which generates no income, has no tenants and potentially needs hundreds of thousands of dollars spent on it.[…] He was not sure how long it would take to restore the building, but wanted to get the work done as fast as possible. There was “a huge job” ahead, but he was not daunted and was confident of finding a good tenant, Mr Forbes said.
    Read more

  5. Peter

    This is a fantastic contribution by Lawrie Forbes to our town. A man who truly loves this place and not someone who is trying to find the best way to rip it off.

  6. amanda

    Lawrie Forbes is a real stakeholder in this town.

  7. Elizabeth

    ### ODT Online Sat, 1 Sep 2012
    Photo by Peter McIntosh
    Renovation work under way
    Lawrie Forbes works to remove old footings on the foundations of the Reed’s Building, in Dunedin, this week.
    Read more

    • Elizabeth

      Register to read D Scene online at

      ### D Scene 26.9.12
      Protect and Preserve (page 1)
      Lawrie Forbes is filming the repair and redevelopment of notable Dunedin premises, the AH Reed building, to create a permanent record for other developers of best practice techniques for earthquake strengthening work. See page 2. #bookmark


      Restoration is for the record (page 2)
      By Wilma McCorkindale
      Redevelopment of Dunedin’s AH Reed building has given owners a chance to film the process while sharing crucial earthquake strengthening practices. Most days, Zeal Steel’s Craig McNaughton can be seen with video camera in hand recording various stages of remedial and redevelopment work on the former offices of famous Dunedin writer and publisher Alfred Reed. Co-owner Lawrie Forbes said the Reed Project was begging to be recorded because of the building’s historic significance. “It was just too good an opportunity to miss,” Mr Forbes said. “Still photos just don’t tell the story.” He said the recording was evolving as they had now decided to include aspects of earthquake strengthening. “With the Royal Commission of inquiry into the failure of masonry buildings [during earthquakes] certain practices in Christchurch have proved there were failings in the techniques. So basically we’ve shown best practice procedures for gluing in of threaded rods and reinforcing rods to masonry buildings. We’re going to make that available.”
      {continues} #bookmark

  8. Hype O'Thermia

    Looks like when his hands are dirty, it’s HONEST dirt.
    Good man.

    Every now and then there’s a call for nominations from the public for “Good Sorts” and community heroes. How about we remember the name of Lawrie Forbes.
    And another good’un, Bill Pile who used his own machinery, time and gumption to fix the road after it was wrecked by storms, so the school bus & milk tankers could use it safely.

    According to news Waitaki Bridge dairy farmer Bill Pile could both have been prosecuted for unauthorised work on a public road. Funny how these petty rules tumbled in Christchurch and people were allowed to be useful, and council was allowed to ignore unsafe toilets and drinking water availability even longer than absolutely necessary while they prioritised meetings and selective application of initiative-bans.

  9. Anonymous

    I think the Otago Daily Times could have put a little more effort into its update. An association to the original story would have been helpful to its readers.

    • Elizabeth

      The ‘news’ item is an extended photo caption (a space filler). The search box at Online gets you to the linked stories, as will the search box here. He’s one of many hardworking Dunedin owners or dedicated advisors to historic heritage, in that sense no one person stands out above the rest.

  10. Peter

    What a study in contrasts. Here we have a man, like Lawrie Forbes, doing his heritage thing while we have those other creatures, doing their phallic thing, which will overshadow the heritage area the council is trying to preserve.
    Let’s hope the council puts so many impediments in the way of this hotel that the developers give up and put yet another one of these gross buildings in bloody China.

  11. ### January 30, 2014 – 7:21pm
    Historic building looking for a new owner
    One of Dunedin’s historic buildings is looking for a new owner to help resurrect the property. The Reed’s building was bought about 18 months ago by a man keen to save it from the wrecking ball. Lawrie Forbes plans to sell the building, but says his connection with it is far from over, especially after uncovering a hidden gem.

  12. Elizabeth

    Former Education Board/AH Reed/Skinners Building at 75 Crawford St (cnr Jetty St), Dunedin

    SOLD for conversion to apartments and other uses. Story in ODT tomorrow – via Ch39 news.

  13. Elizabeth

    ### ODT Online Wed, 30 Jul 2014
    New life for key historic building
    By Debbie Porteous
    A key building in Dunedin’s warehouse precinct is set to take on a new lease of life over the next few months, as a new owner moves in. The A. H. Reed Building, on the corner of Jetty and Crawford streets, has been bought by Dunedin-born, Perth-based businessman Roger Bray, who plans to convert it into half a dozen apartments, possibly some office space and a cafe on the downstairs corner.
    Read more

    • Elizabeth

      ### July 31, 2014 – 6:01pm
      120-year-old building to be restored
      There is light at the end of the tunnel for one of Dunedin’s iconic heritage buildings.

  14. Peter

    It’s really great to see this happening and tells us, once again, that people are attracted back to Dunedin for reasons other than a rugby stadium.
    Congratulations and thanks to Mr Bray and to the DCC/Glen Hazelton for facilitating the process for this to happen without undue delay.

  15. Elizabeth

    ### ODT Online Sun, 30 Nov 2014
    Apartments, reading room and cafe planned
    -The Star
    The historic A. H. Reed building in Crawford St looks set to get a new lease on life as a block of inner-city apartments. The building was bought by Roger Bray in September this year. Mr Bray intends to put in 11 apartments, including two penthouse apartments, and a downstairs cafe. The cafe would feature an A. H. Reed reading room, where clients could exchange books. The reading room was a nod to the building’s former occupant, publisher A. H. Reed. The apartments are for sale.
    Read more

    The A. H. Reed Building features in photographs at this post – Dunedin: Randoms from inside warehouse precinct 18.10.14

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s