Station Hotel (Former)
131 Beach Road, 122 Anzac Avenue And Parliament Street, Auckland
List Entry Information
List Entry Status
List Entry Type
Historic Place Category 2
Private/No Public Access
26th November 1981
Extent of List Entry
Extent includes the land described as Lots 57, 58, 85, 86 DP 14125 (CTs NA624/216, NA51D/1100, NA51D/1101), North Auckland Land District, and the buildings known as the Station Hotel (Former) thereon, and their fittings and fixtures.
Auckland Council (Auckland City Council)
Lots 57, 58, 85, 86 DP 14125 (CTs NA624/216, NA51D/1100, NA51D/1101), North Auckland Land District
The Station Hotel (Former) was built in 1930-1 directly opposite the newly-constructed Auckland Railway Station in Beach Road, which formed the main land-based gateway to Auckland. Designed to harmonise with the station, the brick hotel reflects the ‘golden age’ of New Zealand’s railway system and is of regional significance for reflecting Auckland’s changing social history over many decades. It is also architecturally significant in its own right as a design by William Swanson Read Bloomfield (1885-1968) of Ngati Kahungunu, considered likely to be the first person of Maori descent to attend architecture school and practice as an architect. Reinforcing the hotel’s potency as a symbol of progress, the structure occupies land once part of the grounds of the colonial General Assembly and Provincial Buildings - cut down as part of extensive early-twentieth century remodelling and reclamations to provide better port, road and rail access.
The relocation of Auckland’s railway station allowed the opportunity to establish new facilities for rail travellers, and the developers of this hotel, Hancock and Co, wanted to build a hotel ‘on the lines of the large American and Continental hotels’, for both rail and overseas travellers. By the early twentieth century when Bloomfield was studying architecture at the University of Pennsylvania (1911-13), American hotels formed the global standard for commercial hospitality. The Station Hotel was built by Fletchers Construction; it was one of the very few commercial buildings constructed in Auckland during the Great Depression.
In response to the unusual geography of the site, the hotel consisting of seven floors plus basement was built into the steep slope of the hill and could be entered on either the ground floor; or the sixth floor, from a long courtyard on Anzac Avenue. The ground floor contained the lobby and bars, the fifth floor the dining room, and the sixth floor was completely taken up with a highly decorated lounge bar. Although a number of these spaces have since been reorganised notable surviving features include a segmental arched ceiling with timbering, and deeply moulded Art Deco plaster capitals with unmistakable Maori cultural references. In 1967 the hotel was extended into a two-storey building next door on Beach Road, and at some point the entrance from Anzac Avenue was covered with a one storey addition.
The hotel, its bars and dining rooms enjoyed a significant social history, and its managers often became well-known personalities. The hotel was once an elegant place to stay and played host to many social occasions, for both Aucklanders and travellers. In the 1930s and 1940s the Station Hotel was a favourite of Labour members of parliament, and during the Second World War (1939-45) it was favoured by American soldiers. From the 1950s it became well known as a ‘sporting hotel’; and many involved in rugby and racing stayed there. In the 1960s it was the first in Auckland to be granted an ‘entertainment licence’ allowing it to hold dances in its dining room, making it a popular venue with locals wishing to circumvent alcohol licencing laws. At around this time the reputation of the hotel declined; despite this, the proximity to the Supreme Court made its bars popular with senior police officers. In the 1960s and 1970s the hotel became very well known as a music venue; many significant concerts were held there. The decline in the prestige of the building broadly coincided with that of the railway system, as road transport and motels increasingly gained popularity from the middle of the twentieth century. Since the 1970s, the building, operating as both a hotel and a hostel, has been known by a number of different names. It survives as an important symbol of the popularity of New Zealand's rail network in early and mid-twentieth century society.
Bloomfield, W S R
William Swanson Read Bloomfield (1885-1968), of Ngati Kahungunu, has been considered likely to be the first person of Maori descent to have attended an architecture school and practised as an architect. Born into a prominent Gisborne family in 1885, his parents were T.E.R. Bloomfield and Mary Swanson - the latter being the daughter of Auckland timber merchant William Swanson and Ani Rangitunoa from Hawkes Bay. Bloomfield graduated from the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Architecture in 1913 and is reported to have been studying architecture in England when the First World War (1914-18) broke out. Joining the Royal Flying Corps soon after the conflict started, he was shot down over enemy lines in 1917 and was held captive for the remainder of the war.
After repatriation from Germany, Bloomfield returned to New Zealand and married Audrey Gribbin in 1920. From the mid 1920s, he practised in Auckland as part of the firm Bloomfield and Hunt, and then Bloomfield, Morgan and Owen. He was responsible for several notable buildings in the city during this period, including Yorkshire House (1926-8); the Queen’s Arcade in Queen Street (1928-9) and the Masonic Temple in St Benedict’s Street (1929-30). Work undertaken in 1930 included the Titirangi Hotel - or Lopdell House - in Titirangi; the Station Hotel in Beach Road; and the Aviation Club clubhouse. Also in 1930, Bloomfield’s design for St Augustine’s Church in Devonport was erected as a memorial to local men who had died in the First World War. Those commemorated included his brother-in-law, Gunner R.L. Gribbin.
During the Second World War (1939-45), Bloomfield served in the Royal New Zealand Air Force as squadron leader and North Island divisional commander. His later work as an architect encompassed numerous domestic designs, many of which featured in Home and Building. He retired from practice in 1959.
Fletcher Construction Company
Fletcher Construction Company was founded by Scottish-born James Fletcher (1886 - 1974), the son of a builder. Six months after his arrival in Dunedin in 1908, Fletcher formed a house-building partnership with Bert Morris. They soon moved into larger-scale construction work, building the St Kilda Town Hall (1911), and the main dormitory block and Ross Chapel at Knox College (1912). Fletcher's brothers, William, Andrew and John joined the business in 1911, which then became known as Fletcher Brothers. A branch was opened in Invercargill.
While holidaying in Auckland in 1916, James tendered for the construction of the the Auckland City Markets. By 1919 the company, then known as Fletcher Construction, was firmly established in Auckland and Wellington. Notable landmarks constructed by the company during the Depression included the Auckland University College Arts Building (completed 1926); Landmark House (the former Auckland Electric Power Board Building, 1927); Auckland Civic Theatre (1929); the Chateau Tongariro (1929); and the Dominion Museum, Wellington (1934).
Prior to the election of the first Labour Government, Fletcher (a Reform supporter) had advised the Labour Party on housing policy as hbe believed in large-scale planning and in the inter-dependence of government and business. However, he declined an approach by Prime Minister Michael Joseph Savage in December 1935 to sell the company to the government, when the latter wanted to ensure the large-scale production of rental state housing. Although Fletchers ultimately went on to build many of New Zealand's state houses, for several years Residential Construction Ltd (the subsidiary established to undertake their construction) sustained heavy financial losses.
Fletcher Construction became a public company, Fletcher Holdings, in 1940. Already Fletchers' interests were wide ranging: brickyards, engineering shops, joinery factories, marble quarries, structural steel plants and other enterprises had been added the original construction firm. Further expansion could only be undertaken with outside capital.
During the Second World War James Fletcher, having retired as chairman of Fletcher Holdings, was seconded to the newly created position of Commissioner of State Construction which he held during 1942 and 1943. Directly responsible to Prime Minister Peter Fraser, Fletcher had almost complete control over the deployment of workers and resources. He also became the Commissioner of the Ministry of Works, set up in 1943, a position he held until December 1945.
In 1981 Fletcher Holdings; Tasman Pulp and Paper; and Challenge Corporation amalgamated to form Fletcher Challenge Ltd, at that time New Zealand's largest company.
Williamson Construction Company - main contract
Extension into the two-storey building next door on Beach Road
5th June 2015
Report Written By
9 July 1930, p.8
Hyde, Tom, ‘Grand Central Station’, Metro, Feb 1991, pp.72-80.
New Zealand Legacy
Oldham, Denys, ‘William Swanson Read Bloomfield (1885 – 1968); Was he the First Architect with Maori Ancestry?’, New Zealand Legacy, 2014, Vol. 26, No.3, pp.5-8.
P. Shaw, Pride of Place: A history of the Fletcher Construction Company, Auckland, 2009
J. Smith, No Job Too Big: A history of Fletcher Construction, Volume I: 1909-1940, Wellington, 2009
The New Zealand Railways Magazine
O’Hara, W K, ‘The Development of Auckland’s Railway Station’, The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Vol 2, Issue 2, (June 1927).
Sandoval-Strausz, A.K. Hotel: An American History, Yale, 2007
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.
A fully referenced upgrade report is available on request from the Northern Region Office of Heritage New Zealand