Central Building

201 Heretaunga Street West And 100 Market Street North, Hastings

  • Central Building.
    Copyright: NZ Historic Places Trust.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 2 Public Access Private/No Public Access
List Number 1073 Date Entered 26th May 2006


Extent of List Entry

Extent of registration includes the land comprised in Certificate of Title HBM3/582 and HBM3/581 Hawkes Bay Registry, and the whole of Central Building contained therein.

City/District Council

Hastings District


Hawke's Bay Region

Legal description

Lot 1-2 DP 245 (CT HBM3/582 and HBM3/581), Hawkes Bay Land District


Central Building was designed by Edmund Anscombe (1874-1948), one of New Zealand's most important architects. It was constructed in 1934 for George Kelly. The building was sold in 1936 to Central Building Limited, a company that retained ownership until 1971. The building has changed ownership relatively frequently in recent years. The building has shops on the ground floor and offices above and has had a modest, typical retailing history, with a wide variety of tenants over its 70-year lifespan.

A well-known landmark in Hastings, the Central Building imposes its quiet and dignified character on a central part of the city, adjacent to the pedestrian mall in Heretaunga Street West and on a busy corner site. It is two storeys high, and of large floor plate, which adds to its prominence in the townscape. Many of its neighbours are of similar scale, and date from the post-earthquake building boom of the 1930s, which creates the strong period character of the central city. Architecturally, the building is important as an example of the Stripped Classical style and it remains in relatively authentic form.

Assessment criteriaopen/close

Aesthetic Value

Central Building is large in plan, is two storeys high, and occupies a prominent corner site. It fulfils the obligations of such a site, since it is well proportioned and scaled and has strong visual interest in the detail. It has important aesthetic value for the city in its townscape qualities.

Technological Value

There is technological value in the reinforced concrete construction of the building, especially as a post-earthquake structure, and there is modest technical interest in other original elements of the building such as plaster finishes, decoration and roof structure.

Architectural Value

The building is a very good example of the Stripped Classical style, displaying simplified and abstracted Classical features in a well-ordered and rational manner. It is authentic in the important elements of the verandah and the first floor facade above, and in the ground floor entrance foyer, and it is the work of a nationally important architect Edmund Anscombe.

Social Value

This is a building with a long history of occupation over 70 years by many businesses, so it is well known to local people and has significant social value for Hastings as a result.

Section 23 (2), Historic Places Act analysis: b, c, e, g, h, and k.

Category: Category II historic Place

(b) The association of the place with events, persons, or ideas of importance in New Zealand history:

Central Building is the work of nationally important architect Edmund Anscombe, extending our appreciation of the wide variety of work attributed to him in various parts of the country.

(c) The potential of the place to provide knowledge of New Zealand history:

The building has modest value in terms of retailing and commercial history in a provincial city in the mid-nineteenth century.

(e) The community association with, or public esteem for the place:

It is likely, although difficult to quantify, that there is a certain level of public esteem for this place, having been a prominent corner building since 1934, with a number of retail outlets and commercial offices, during which time it will have been visited by a great many Hastings citizens.

(g) The technical accomplishment or value, or design of the place:

There is some technical interest in the structure of the building. The design is of special interest as it is a competent example of the Stripped Classical style of architecture applied to a commercial building; it is a style that was popular in the 1930s and was well suited to the exigencies of rebuilding in the aftermath of the Hawke's Bay earthquake. The building has high townscape value for its well-mannered presence on the corner of one of the most important central city intersections.

(h) The symbolic or commemorative value of the place:

Prominent inner-city buildings constructed after the Hawke's Bay earthquake, such as this building, have modest symbolic and commemorative value for their association with the event and the revitalisation of the core of city.

(k) The extent to which the place forms part of a wider historical and cultural complex or historical and cultural landscape:

Hastings is, like Napier, a city substantially shaped by one event - the Hawke's Bay earthquake of 1931 - which led to the destruction and rebuilding of much of the city centre. This building is one of many significant buildings that are identifiably from the post-earthquake period and which so strongly define the character of the city.


Construction Professionalsopen/close

Anscombe, Edmund

Anscombe (1874-1948) was born in Sussex and came to New Zealand as a child. He began work as a builder's apprentice in Dunedin and in 1901 went to America to study architecture. He returned to Dunedin in 1907 and designed the School of Mines building for the University of Otago. The success of this design gained him the position of architect to the University. Five of the main University buildings were designed by Anscombe, as well as Otago Girls' High School and several of Dunedin's finest commercial buildings including the Lindo Ferguson Building (1927) and the Haynes building.

Anscombe moved to Wellington about 1928 and was known for his work as the designer of the Centennial Exhibition (1939-1940). Anscombe had travelled extensively and had visited major exhibitions in Australia, Germany and America. The practice of Edmund Anscombe and Associates, Architects, had offices in the Dunedin, Wellington and Hawkes Bay districts, and Anscombe's buildings include the Vocational Centre for Disabled Servicemen, Wellington (1943), Sargent Art Gallery, Wanganui, and several blocks of flats including Anscombe Flats, 212 Oriental Parade (1937) and Franconia, 136 The Terrace (1938), both in Wellington. As well as being interested in the housing problem, Anscombe held strong views concerning the industrial advancement of New Zealand.

(See also http://www.dnzb.govt.nz/dnzb/ )

Abbott, H.W.

No biography is currently available for this construction professional

Additional informationopen/close

Historical Narrative

Central Building occupies land that was owned in its present form as far back as 1892 by George Land and Simeon Heighway. It's not certain, although highly likely, that the prominent corner site was occupied by a building prior to the construction of Central Building. After a series of sales, the site was purchased in 1907 by George Kelly. Kelly was still the owner at the time of the Hawke's Bay earthquake in 1931. In 1934 Kelly commissioned noted Wellington architect Edmund Anscombe to design a building for the site. The building was completed later that same year by H.W. Abbott.

Central Building was a very good example of the Stripped Classical style, adopted by Anscombe (as was the case for many architects working in Hawke's Bay after the 1931 Hawke's Bay earthquake) as a response to the need for economical and structurally sound buildings, yet with some architectural presence to benefit the city. Anscombe wrote that 'The buildings of today should combine simplicity, convenience, strength, beauty, harmony and permanence, and be designed for the definite purpose of supporting ... a business ... in the performance of its everyday function', and this building is a realisation of this creed.

In February 1936, Kelly sold the property to Central Building Ltd. Central Building's retail spaces were occupied by, among others, a milliner and a confectioner. By 1940, Roy Symonds' chemist shop occupied part of the ground floor retail space, and he remained a long-standing tenant. During World War II, Air Force Relations occupied part of the building. After World War II, in addition to the chemist shop, McAras Ltd, described as frock specialists, occupied part of the ground floor retail space for a considerable period. From the 1950s, Central Building Ltd negotiated a series of leases with a number of tenants, including Lane Walker Rudkin, the above-mentioned McAras Ltd, Watson's Pharmacy, Paul Barcham Ltd., William Greer.

In 1971 the building was sold to H.E.F. Pensions Ltd, who sold it to Paterson Central Ltd in 1984. It was purchased by Jeremy and Gail Paterson in 1989 and, since 1990, it has been owned by property investor David Gunson.

The building has undergone a number of recorded alterations - at least 10 since 1957 - mainly to shop interiors and shop fronts. Much of the ground floor retail space is presently occupied by Unichem chemists. The first floor is occupied by Curves Gym.

Physical Description

Central Building is appropriately named, for its corner site on Heretaunga Street West and Market Street is at the heart of the Hastings Central Business District (CBD). It plays an important role in the townscape, both in defining an important intersection and in contributing to the character of the inner city.

It is Stripped Classical in style, a building of calm assurance in its low horizontal emphasis; established by a strong parapet with long horizontal bands of decorative work, and the verandah fascia, which extends to both ends of the relatively long facades. The first floor facade is actually divided by fluted pilasters, with abstracted designs to capitals and bases, and each bay has one large window set in a deep reveal. The building curves around the corner, the three corner bays being emphasised slightly by a step in the parapet; each end bay has similar emphasis. An unusual feature is the frieze of lions' heads interspersed along the length of the acroteria at parapet level. While totally authentic above verandah level, all the shop fronts below have been modernised. The ground floor entrance on Market Street to the first floor offices is likewise authentic, little altered from 1934. It has a terrazzo floor, solid curved balustrade to the stair and a lead-light window of pure Art Deco design; it gives access to the first floor hall.

The structure of the building is reinforced in-situ concrete for foundations, floors (reinforced with 'maxweld' mesh) and walls; the roof structure is timber trusses (rimu), and the roof is clad in corrugated iron. The walls are plastered with coloured plaster, now painted, and the first floor windows were steel and are now replaced with aluminium. Australian blackwood timber was used for doors, frames and shopfront joinery on the ground floor.

Notable Features

Form and detail of the street elevations, including the verandah.

Entrance foyer and stairwell to the first floor, including the terrazzo floor and lead-light windows.

Construction Dates

Original Construction
1934 -

1957 -
Building consent issued - retail pharmacy

1959 -
Building consent issued - alterations to shops

1965 -
Building consent issued - alterations to shops

1969 -
Building consent issued - alterations to shops and shop fronts

1974 -
Building consent issued - alterations to shops

1985 -
Building consent issued - alterations to shops

1989 -
Building consent issued - sign

1993 -
Building consent issued - alteration to shops

1995 -
Resource consent issued - sign

1999 -
Building consent issued - interior fit out

Construction Details

Reinforced concrete construction, timber trussed roof, corrugated iron roof cladding.

Completion Date

10th October 2005

Report Written By

Michael Kelly and Chris Cochran

Other Information

A fully referenced version of this report is available from the NZHPT Central Region Office.

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.