Davenport Building

314-318 Broadway And 4-10 High Street, Marton

  • Davenport Building.
    Copyright: Heritage New Zealand. Taken By: Alison Dangerfield. Date: 1/09/2013.
  • Davenport Building. Rear.
    Copyright: Heritage New Zealand. Taken By: R O'Brien. Date: 1/12/2003.
  • Davenport Building. Image included in Field Record Form Collection.
    Copyright: Heritage New Zealand . Taken By: Judith Crawley.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 2 Public Access Private/No Public Access
List Number 1243 Date Entered 2nd July 1982


Extent of List Entry

Extent includes the land described as Pt Lot 1 AP 3126 and Lot 2 DP 6521 (CT WN550/60), Wellington Land District and the building known as Davenport Building thereon.

City/District Council

Rangitikei District


Horizons (Manawatu-Wanganui) Region

Legal description

Pt Lot 1 AP 3126 and Lot 2 DP 6521 (CT WN550/60), Wellington Land District [Note: the CT cites the appellation as 'Pt Sec 17 Rangitikei Agricultural Reserve and being Lot 2 DP 6521 and being Pt Lot 1 AP 3126']


On a prominent corner site in central Marton since 1913-14, the Davenport Building (also known as the Cobbler Building) is a local landmark. This distinctive Edwardian Free Style two-storey brick and concrete commercial building was designed by well-known local architect, Robin Hood (1880-1953), and is an important contributor to its streetscape. Described at the time as ‘without a doubt the most valuable addition to architectural designs in Marton,’ the Davenport Building is part of a complex of contemporary buildings which give Marton’s central commercial area a distinctly Edwardian and early inter-war character.

The building was constructed for storekeeper brothers, Samuel Johnson (1858-1931) and German Morton (1863-1934) Davenport, who purchased the property in 1895. There had been a shop on the site from 1868, and in 1905 the Davenports added a two storey brick building at the northeast of their site (312 Broadway). From their premises they sold general household merchandise, clothing, and groceries. In mid 1913 they expanded their holdings by building a larger commercial building occupying the corner site on the remainder of the land, and abutting the 1905 building.

Constructed in two stages - the Broadway and High Street corner first and then extending further along High Street - the building was completed by early 1914. There were different construction companies for the two sections: local company Haddock and Hassell were followed by well-known Wanganui builders, Russell and Bignell. The building was designed with six ground level shops and offices and Marton Cosmopolitan Club rooms upstairs. The upper façade is two-toned with concrete areas referencing a Classical arcade, complete with spandrels, and above is a plain brick parapet punctuated by a corner arched pediment and two smaller equivalents on High Street. The arcade’s pilasters carry through to the concrete lower level and large shop display windows and accessways are interspersed between them. The verandahs were part of Hood’s design and had areas of green tilework below.

Hood, just beginning his career, was on the way to becoming a notable and longstanding local architect. At this stage he was Feilding-based, but later moved to Palmerston North where he designed buildings such as the Coronation Building (1937) and Broadway Chambers (1936) in central Palmerston North, the Feilding Jockey Club (List no. 1223), as well as many other Manawatu and Rangitikei commercial and residential buildings.

The Cosmopolitan Club formed at the same time as the Davenport Building was being planned, and the second stage of the building project was designed with their needs in mind. At some stage after the Club vacated in 1924 part of the upper level spaces were converted into flats. The Davenports owned the building until 1948 when it was sold to Marjorie Maude, who in turn owned the property for nearly three decades. Over the twentieth century various changes were made to interior of the building, as well as some shop-front alterations.


Construction Professionalsopen/close

Russell & Bignell

No biography is currently available for this construction professional

Hood, Robin

Robin Hood was born in Dunedin in 1885 and then moved to the Manawatu around 1908. He was an architect based in Feilding from 1908 - 1920, and then in Palmerston North from 1920 - 1950. Among his known designs are the office building for future mayor Edmund Goodbehere at 71 Kimbolton St, Feilding.

Haddock and Hassell

No biography is currently available for this construction professional

Additional informationopen/close

Physical Description

The building is 'U' shaped in plan with central courtyard accessed from the centre of the south wing. It is two storeyed with shops on the ground floor and living accommodation on the first floor. Linings to partitions on the west wing have been removed exposing the space used as a billiard room.

The building is constructed of structural brickwork in English Bond. While much of the exterior has the brickwork exposed, the exterior is decorated with roughcast cement render, tiled roundels and tiled shopfronts. Windows and door joinery is of painted timber with stained glass in the western half of the building. A continuous timber framed veranda wraps around the building with raised section in the centre of the southern elevation where access to the courtyard is located. There are pressed metal ceilings over the shop entrances.

The interior linings of the ground floor shops have been extensively modified, but it appears that the wall and ceiling linings were painted timber match lining. Shop 4 still has these linings, while other shops have plasterboard linings. Exposed brick and timber partitions are retained in the bakery on the west wing. The corner shop has a pressed metal ceiling.

First floor rooms generally have timber floors, timber match lined dados with plaster above and timber battened plastered ceilings. Fireplaces are decorative brickwork and timber mantles, while window sills are bracketed. Windows have upper panes of Art Nouveau styled leaded and colour glass.

The stair to the first floor is stained timber match lining to dado height on the first floor with decorative newels, handrails and brackets. Above the dado is battened timber on plaster, with the ceiling also battened with plaster. Above the east and west landings on the first floor are laylights.

While damaged, most of the linings have been retained.

The building is designed in the Edwardian Free Style. The Edwardian Free Style was based on the principles of the Arts and Crafts Movement and was popular between the 1890s and 1915. It was mainly a style for commercial buildings. English architects such as Charles Holden, Smith and Brewer, C Harrison Townsend, Leonard Stokes, H Fuller Clark and young architects then working for the Greater London Council. Typical of their design was an interest in the use of traditional materials constructed in an honest manner without reference to any particular style.

Australian examples came largely from the office of the New South Wales Government with many courthouses, post offices and fire stations in particular designed in this style. The style in New Zealand was not as widespread. Unlike New South Wales, government buildings were designed mainly in the Edwardian Baroque style by government architect of the time, John Campbell.

Generally the style combines eclectic elements from other styles including Classical, Art Nouveau, Romanesque and Queen Ann e. Characteristics of the style include: low towers or vertically, projecting elements, curved corners with vertical accent, prominent skyline features such as parapets and chimneys, curvilinear parapet features, squat columns or pilasters, strongly contrasting materials, textures and/ or colours, piers projecting above parapets, arches, Diocletian window motif, (triple round headed windows) Art Nouveau elements such as stained glass windows with stylised flowers and Classical motifs in unexpected context.

The Davenport Building, at 314-318 Broadway, has all of these characteristics and is therefore a paragon of the style.

Notable Features

Elements comprising the street elevations are the most significant including:


rough cast cement render

tiled roundels

tiled shopfronts

timber window and door joinery

stained glass

timber framed verandah with metal supports

pressed metal ceilings over shop entries

concrete and brick chimneys

Although not visible from the street the rear elevations, toilet block and roof are also of significance.

Construction Dates

Original Construction
Portion of the building fronting Broadway constructed

Portion of the building fronting High Street constructed

1972 -
Part of first floor converted to flats

Completion Date

31st July 2014

Report Written By

Karen Astwood

Other Information

A fully referenced upgrade report is available on request from the Central Regional Office of Heritage New Zealand.

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.