Villa d'Este

341-351 Heretaunga Street West, Hastings

  • Villa d'Este.
    Copyright: NZ Historic Places Trust. Taken By: Imelda Bargas. Date: 1/03/2008.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 2 Public Access Private/No Public Access
List Number 1103 Date Entered 27th June 2008


Extent of List Entry

This registration includes all of the land comprised in CT HB 58/152 (as shown on the 'Extent of Registration' map in Appendix 2) and the building, its fittings and fixtures, thereon.

City/District Council

Hastings District


Hawke's Bay Region

Legal description

Lot 157 Deeds 29, Lot 5 DP 4760 (CT HB58/152), Hawkes Bay Land District


Villa d'Este shops and flats were built in 1929 as an investment property for local barrister James Kirk. Designed by architect Albert Garnett, the building was severely damaged in the Hawkes Bay earthquake of 1931 and was rebuilt (to the design of architects Davies Garnett and Philips) the following year.

Villa d'Este has been occupied by a range of retailers on its ground floor and tenants in the upstairs flats over its life. Perhaps the most significant of these is Elizabeth Horne, a fashion shop that has been an occupant of the building since the 1930s. Otherwise the building has had a fairly unremarkable history.

The building's principal aesthetic value lies in the elegant design of its main façade to Heretaunga Street West. This is dominated by an open arcade of semi-circular arches, giving a strong rhythm and articulation to the building; while it has a Spanish Mission influence, the subtle Classical decoration of the attached columns and cornice place it also in the Stripped Classical tradition. Balconies to the front and rear provide outdoor space for the four apartments on the first floor, making for good quality living accommodation in the CBD.

There is technical interest in the concrete structure, and for the fact that it was repaired (in like but not exactly matching form) after major damage during the Hawkes Bay earthquake.

Assessment criteriaopen/close

Historical Significance or Value

Ville d'Este is a building of some historical value, derived partly from its continuous use as retail premises and in particular the long tenure of fashion boutique Elizabeth Horne. The long-standing association of that business with this building lifts its significance, as it is unusual for a tenanted inner-city building to retain the same use for such a long time. The building has historic interest for the period straddling the Hawkes Bay earthquake - the period when the building was constructed, partially destroyed and then rebuilt. The building's brief association with radio station pioneers Lockyer's Electrical is also of some historical interest. The design of the building is the work of architect Albert Garnett, and its reconstruction the work of Davies, Garnett and Phillips, one of the most influential architectural associations in Hastings, mainly through their collaboration in the wake of the Hawkes Bay earthquake. Each architect had been successful prior to this event but their subsequent work, particularly in establishing a post-earthquake appearance for Hastings, is of considerable historic importance.


Villa d'Este has a strong townscape presence in the line of buildings in Heretaunga Street West. This is due mainly to the pattern and rhythm, and the light and shade, of the first floor arcade, which is a prominent formal composition in the street. The scale of the building is compatible with adjacent structures.


Villa d'Este is a good example of a building in the Spanish Mission style, evident most particularly in the semi-circular arched arcade of the first floor, also in the arched openings of the other first floor windows. It could also be described as Stripped Classical, since it has plain wall surfaces and vestiges of subtle Classical detailing in the capitals of the attached columns and in the cornice and cornice moulding. It is an assured design, well balanced, and it provides much of visual interest in the composition and detail. The front and rear balconies provide outdoor space, so important for living in apartments in the central business district of the town.


The building has some modest technical significance as a pre-earthquake concrete building, one that suffered serious damage in the earthquake, yet was able to be reconstructed while retaining much of the original fabric. Small structural design alterations (as well as changes to stylistic features) were made in the reconstruction.


As a well-known and patronised inner-city retail building, and a home to generations of apartment tenants, Villa d'Este is something of a local institution. The 70 plus years of association with the fashion shop of Elizabeth Horne is a particularly significant one.

Category of historic place (section 23(2)): This place was assigned a category status having regard to the following criteria: g, k

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

The main technical interest in this concrete-framed building relates to its damage during the Hawkes Bay earthquake, and its reconstruction afterwards to a matching design, although with small-scale modifications to the engineering of the structure and to stylistic embellishment.

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

Hastings' present built form is still largely made up of buildings constructed in the aftermath of the Hawkes Bay earthquake in 1931. Although Villa d' Este was partially rebuilt after the earthquake and close to the same architectural design, it is still a product of that tumultuous event. Its general style, appearance and scale are similar to buildings constructed in the post-earthquake period and which so strongly define the character of the city.

Category: Category II


Construction Professionalsopen/close

Davies, Garnett & Phillips

Harold Davies (1888-1976), Albert Garnett (1878-1956) and Eric Phillips (1897-1980) were successful architects in their own right before joining together to play their part in the huge task of rebuilding the town centre. One source states that Garnett began working in partnership with Davies and Phillips - 'the town's most reputable and prolific architectural practice' - in the 1920s. After the earthquake, the partnership combined with other architects to form the 'Architects Associated' group, which worked across normal professional boundaries to see the efficient repair and replacement of earthquake damaged premises. Perhaps their best known collaborative design was for the Wesley Methodist Church (1932). The partnership initially had their premises in Garnett's offices above Poppelwells, before moving first to the YMCA building in Market Street and then to premises in Heretaunga Street West. Garnett left the partnership in 1933 and it became known as Davies and Phillips. The latter went on to design many important Hastings buildings.

Garnett, Albert (1878-1956)

Albert Garnett (1878-1956) was one of Hastings' most important architects. Born in Hastings in 1878, he lived all his life in the town. His father James Garnett, later mayor of Hastings, was a builder and his son began his career working for his father before becoming an architect. He practised mainly on his own account, although he formed a brief association with Davies and Phillips in the immediate aftermath of the Hawkes Bay earthquake. Garnett ended his partnership with Davies and Phillips in 1933 but continued to practice into the 1950s. Albert Garnett was also a borough councillor in the 1920s. Among his other Hastings' buildings were the Wesley Methodist Church (1911), Municipal Chambers (1917) and Atkins House (1935). One of Albert Garnett's greatest contributions to Hastings was his early use of the Spanish Mission style, which went on to become synonymous with central Hastings. In Russell Street alone he designed three of Hastings' best examples of Spanish Mission architecture - Poppelwells Building (1927), R & R Building (1927) and Harvey's Building (1933).

Additional informationopen/close

Historical Narrative

Villa d'Este was built as flats and retail outlets in 1929 for Hastings barrister James Kirk and was designed by architect Albert Garnett. The building was presumably named for the celebrated house and gardens built at Tivoli, near Rome, by Cardinal Ippolito II d'Este (1509-1572). Pope Julius appointed Cardinal d'Este as Governor of Tivoli and gave him the villa as a gift. He had the entire property reconstructed to the plans of Pirro Ligorio. The house and the gardens are together considered a masterpiece of Renaissance design and are listed as a World Heritage Site. The reason for Kirk giving his building this name is not known.

The building was badly damaged in the Hawkes Bay earthquake and had to be partly rebuilt. Although some sources say the building was demolished, the plans make clear that this was not the case. The building survived but the façade had badly cracked and was removed. There is also one reference on the plans to the removal of existing windows to allow new concrete to be poured. The original design was, understandably, augmented with extra strengthening. This time the design was attributed to Davies, Garnett and Phillips, who were collaborating in the aftermath of the earthquake.

James Kirk remained the owner until his death in 1945. The building was transferred to solicitor Albert Lawry and Horace Kirk, a company director, who were presumably the executors of James Kirk's will. After Lawry's death Horace Kirk became the sole owner. He sold the property to P.A.W Properties Ltd in 1965. Four years later it was bought by Allan Jones, a farmer. In 1980 it was bought by Arthur Smith, described as a businessman, and his wife Coral. Following their deaths in 2003, the property was passed to Jon Philip Smith and Jon Bower Smith.

Listing of occupants of Villa d'Este is not a definitive exercise, at least for the first two decades of the building's existence, as it is not certain what street numbers applied to the building. The numbering also changed over the decades. There were originally four shops on the ground floor although the configuration of the first floor is more difficult to follow. Directories indicate that there were at least three flats. Mary Garden was one of the early shop tenants, moving into the building some time after setting up her business 'Mary Garden Creations', a dress shop, in 1926.

In 1940, Wises Directory lists seven names, some of whom were clearly flat tenants, although they are not explicitly described as such. I & C Galbraith, milliners, F.E. Culy, furniture dealer, Norman Kelly, furrier, Ms E Fergusson, hairdresser, Kate Dalley, draper and William Scott, traveller were listed. Also listed was Elizabeth Horne, a mantle (a short, sleeveless cloak) manufacturer and retailer. Elizabeth Horn(e) had purchased Mary Garden's business in 1935, having worked for her for a number of years. Elizabeth also lived in one of the upstairs flats until she built her own home. Today Elizabeth Horne is Hawkes Bay's oldest women's fashion shop and still an occupant of Villa d'Este.

By the mid-1940s Villa d'Este was appearing in the name of one business - Villa d'Este Salon, at No.333. Galbraiths was also in evidence, along with J.E. Fregley, draper, Lockyer's Electrical Ltd, Vogue Lingerie and Ms Ferguson-Smith. Lockyer's, a name that has also survived in Hawkes Bay retailing, owned and ran a radio station in Hastings in the 1930s, until (like all private radio stations) it was nationalised by the first Labour government.

The Villa d'Este Flats were first mentioned in street directories about this time and in 1950-51 the tenants were Mrs M. Wilmot, an upholsterer and F.H. Reid, an orchardist. (At other times, three names were listed.) In 1959-60, the Villa d'Este Salon occupied the building along with Alexander Martin Ltd, jewellers, Vogue (Hastings), Elizabeth Horne and Lockyer's (who remained in the building until at least the 1970s), and the flat tenants. Di Stewart and Associates stated that an early occupant was Mary Gardiner, the 'first manufacturer of women's clothing'.

More recent tenants include Red Copper Takeaways, West End Takeaways, EMI Records, Wrightson Real Estate, Duckworths, and Cut Above hairdressers. The current tenants are Miller's Fashion Club (341), Boardzone (341) and Elizabeth Horne (351).

There have been numerous alterations to the building's interior, mainly for retailing purposes. Consents for known work were issued in 1967, 1976, 1980, 1982, 1997 and 2001. A façade enhancement grant was made to the owners in 1994 and the building was repainted that year.

Physical Description

Villa d'Este is a two-storey concrete building, almost square in plan. The ground floor is divided into four deep retail spaces, each with a narrow street frontage, these now having been modernised. Above the verandah, the façade is a well articulated composition in the Spanish Mission style. Its main feature is a central section made up of an arcade of four semi-circular arches; the attached columns between the arches are in a delicate Stripped Classical style. It is interesting to note that the design of 1929 shows decorated Corinthian column capitals, which were rebuilt in 1932 in the very plain Doric style that one sees today; the cornice mouldings were simplified too, while the cornice itself has delicately incised Classical decoration. These subtle changes perhaps made Villa d'Este more in tune with the style of buildings then under construction post-earthquake.

A balcony is formed by the exterior wall behind being set back from the arcade, and the concrete floor being cantilevered forward out over the verandah roof. A wrought iron balustrade provides decorative interest to this central part of the façade. The bays to either side, set slightly back, each have a set of three narrow window openings.

Access to the first floor of the building is via a stair in the middle of the street frontage; it gives access to four apartments, one in each corner. These were quite generously laid out, each with a living room, two bedrooms, kitchen and bathroom (toilet, bath and wash hand basin). The front units had access to the balcony overlooking Heretaunga Street West, and there was a back balcony too, very plain but providing outdoor space to the two back units. Bedrooms without an exterior wall are lit from a large central skylight.

In the original design, the shops each had a small one-bedroom flat at the rear, with kitchen facilities in the living room, and small bathroom; these spaces have long since been converted for office space or staff rooms. A dividing wall has been removed to make one large shop from the two central shops.

Construction Dates

Original Construction
1929 -
Building built for James Kirk to the design of architect Albert Garnett.

1931 -
Building partially destroyed by Hawkes Bay earthquake.

1932 -
Building rebuilt largely to original design, architects Davies, Garnett and Philips.

1967 -
Building consent - alterations to shops

1976 -
Building consent - alterations to interior of Lockyer's.

1980 -
Building consent - alterations to shops

1982 -
Building consent - alterations to interior of Duckworths

1994 -
Façade enhancement grant issued

1997 -
Building consent - fit-out of Cut Above hairdressing salon (ABA971007)

2001 -
Building consent - removal of panels to alter shop front.

Construction Details

The building is an in-situ concrete framed structure; foundations and exterior walls are concrete, some 225mm (9 inches) thick, while partitions are shown on the original drawings as brick; the rear wall was cavity brick. This is typical construction technology for the time. The roof is hipped in form and timber-framed.

Completion Date

24th April 2008

Report Written By

C. Cochran and M. Kelly

Information Sources

Fowler, 2007

Michael Fowler, From Disaster to Recovery: The Hastings CBD 1931-35, Havelock North: Michael Fowler Publishing, 2007.

Wises Post Office Directories

Wises Post Office Directories

1916 to 1959-60.

Hastings District Council

Hastings District Council building files.

Elevations and plans, 'Reconditioning of Buildings in Heretaunga Street for J.R. Kirk Esq.', Hastings

'Heritage of Hastings: a guide to the Earthquake Heritage of Hastings', (leaflet) Hastings: Hastings District Council.

Hawkes Bay Herald Tribune

Hawkes Bay Herald Tribune

'Obituary - Albert Garnett', 27 February 1956.

Land Information New Zealand (LINZ)

Land Information New Zealand

HB 58/152

New Zealand Historic Places Trust (NZHPT)

New Zealand Historic Places Trust

File no 12013-436

Shaw, 1991 (2)

Peter Shaw, and Peter Hallett, Hastings: Spanish Mission Styles of Five Decades, Napier: Cosmos, 1991.

Stewart, 1997 (3)

Di Stewart, and Associates, Hastings Central Business District Heritage Study, Volume II - Heritage Register, Hastings: Hastings District Council, 1997.

Wright, 2001 (3)

Matthew Wright, Town and Country: The History of Hastings and District, Hastings, 2001.

Other Information

A fully referenced registration 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.