Marton Courthouse (Former)
23 High Street, Marton
List Entry Information
List Entry Status
List Entry Type
Historic Place Category 1
Private/No Public Access
27th June 1985
Horizons (Manawatu-Wanganui) Region
Sec 135 Rangitikei Agricultural Reserve, (CT WN36B/949)
The former Marton Courthouse was the fourth courthouse built in Marton and for over a hundred years has been a major landmark on the main street of the town. The first courthouse was a one room wooden building built about 1870. This building eventually proved too small and was moved off site to make way for a larger courthouse, which was opened in 1873. In 1890 a fire, believed to have been started by an arsonist in a High Street bookshop, destroyed a number of buildings including the Post and Telegraph Office and Courthouse. Four days after the fire the Marton Borough Council resolved to build a new courthouse in brick.
This courthouse was designed by John Campbell, the Government Architect (1890-1922). It was built by Messrs. Zajonskowski Bros. of Marton and completed by October 1897. (The Zajonskowski Bros. also built the Hunterville Post Office, another registered historic place.) When built, the new courthouse contained a witness's room, Magistrate's room, law library and a courtroom. The building continued to serve the Marton community and wider district throughout most of the twentieth century. However, as the population grew the building proved too small. In 1975 the court moved to a new building and this courthouse was closed. For a short time the former courthouse was used by the Marton Historical Society as a part-time museum and by the Marton Community Centre as its headquarters. In 1982 the building was sold and converted to a restaurant and dwelling. During the 1990s the courthouse became an antique shop. It is now a private dwelling.
The former Marton Courthouse is significant as a particularly fine example of John Campbell's favoured Edwardian Baroque style, modest in size but carefully detailed. The building also served the community for over 80 years as the district courthouse.
John Campbell (1857-1942) served his articles under John Gordon (c1835-1912) in Glasgow. He arrived in Dunedin in 1882 and after a brief period as a draughtsman with Mason and Wales joined the Dunedin branch of the Public Works Department in 1883. His first known work, an unbuilt design for the Dunedin Railway Station, reveals an early interest in Baroque architecture.
In November 1888 Campbell was transferred to Wellington where in 1889 he took up the position of draughtsman in charge of the Public Buildings Division of the Public Works Department.
He remained in charge of the design of government buildings throughout New Zealand until his retirement in 1922, becoming in 1909 the first person to hold the position of Government Architect. Government architecture designed under his aegis evidences a change in style from Queen Anne to Edwardian Baroque. His best-known Queen Anne design is the Dunedin Police Station (1895-8), modelled on Richard Norman Shaw's New Scotland Yard (1887-90). Among his most exuberant Edwardian Baroque buildings is the Public Trust Office, Wellington (1905-09). Although Campbell designed the Dunedin Law Courts (1899-1902) in the Gothic style with a Scottish Baronial inflection, he established Edwardian Baroque as the government style for police stations, courthouses and post offices throughout New Zealand. In 1911 Campbell won the nation-wide architectural competition for the design of Parliament Buildings, Wellington. Although only partially completed, Parliament House is the crowning achievement of Campbell's career.
No biography is currently available for this construction professional
This courthouse was designed by John Campbell, the Government Architect (1890-1922). It was built by Messrs. Zajonskowski Bros. of Marton and completed by October 1897. (The Zajonskowski Bros. also built the Hunterville Post Office, another registered historic place.) When built, the new courthouse contained a witness's room, Magistrate's room, law library and a courtroom.
The former Marton Courthouse is significant as a particularly fine example of John Campbell's favoured Edwardian Baroque style, modest in size but carefully detailed.
Edwardian Baroque was a style popular in the Edwardian period particularly for large civic and governmental buildings. The style was known as 'English Renaissance' at the time and was seen as a truly national style for England and her Empire. It was a style that was adopted by the 'serious' architects who considered Gothic architecture as irrelevant and old fashioned, and the Classical Beaux-Art architecture of France as 'foreign'. The English precedence of Sir Christopher Wren, Vanbrugh and Hawskmoore was significant in the new revival and important English architects who practised the style from the 1880's included Eden Nesfield, Norman Shaw, John Brydon and Edwin Lutyens. Art Nouveau architect, Charles Macintosh and Arts and Crafts architects such as Edward Prior also used the style.
The use of Baroque in New Zealand was largely influenced by the works of Government Architect, John Campbell, in Parliament Buildings and the many post offices throughout New Zealand in the early part of the twentieth century.
The exterior of the building shows a number of characteristics of the style. These include ornate, exaggerated and extensive Classical detailing including keystones and voussoirs around the arched windows and doors, pilasters, swags either side of the door, and a heavily articulated skyline with balled finials, and a stepped and bracketed pediment.
Elements visible from the street that have significance comprise:
cement rendered decorative elements including pediment, cornice, balled
finials, pilasters, window architraves, sill course, swags
timber door and window joinery
Although not visible the rear elevation and roof are also of significance.
Converted to a restaurant, addition of a lean-to as a kitchen.
A Beaglehole, 1975, Building Classification Committee - Research Report Court House Marton. Held on file by NZHPT, Wellington.
6 May 1982
Please note that entry on the New Zealand Heritage List/Rarangi Korero identifies only the heritage values of the property concerned, and should not be construed as advice on the state of the property, or as a comment of its soundness or safety, including in regard to earthquake risk, safety in the event of fire, or insanitary conditions.