Post Office (early portion)

Park Road, Victoria Esplanade Gardens, Palmerston North

  • Post Office (early portion).
    Copyright: NZ Historic Places Trust. Taken By: Elise Meyrick. Date: 13/07/2012.
  • F G R. Postcard no. 134, Looking across The Square gardens, to the Post Office, c.1910.
    Copyright: Palmerston North City Library.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 2 Public Access Private/No Public Access
List Number 1267 Date Entered 25th November 1982

Locationopen/close

Extent of List Entry

Registration includes the structure known as the Post Office (early portion) located on part of Lot 2 DP 77988 (CT WN44B/787), Wellington Land District.

City/District Council

Palmerston North City

Region

Horizons (Manawatu-Wanganui) Region

Legal description

Lot 2 DP 77988 (CT WN44B/878), Wellington Land District

Summaryopen/close

Constructed near The Square in 1889 and now a feature of the Victoria Esplanade Gardens, this early, classically designed Palmerston North Post Office is built to convey an air of permanence and solidity at a time when the town was consolidating its position as the main centre in the region.

Palmerston North’s first purpose-built post office was located in a modest, single-story structure in The Square from 1875. Telegraphic communication was opened between Palmerston North and Foxton in 1875, resulting in a telegraph station installed at the post office. Within five years, this building’s facilities were too small and in 1880 the Post Office moved to the railway station. In the same year, the telegraph line was extended through the Manawatu Gorge, placing Palmerston North in contact with towns as far north as Russell and as far south as Bluff. By 1889 the population of Palmerston North had grown to approximately 3000, and a new, purpose-built Post Office was required to meet its needs.

In 1889, the wooden post office was built on the corner of Main Street and The Square by the firm Ewing and Dillon at the cost of £759 9s 11d. It was designed in a classical style, the wooden construction adapted to give the solid and permanent look of stone. Some of the Classical features are the traditional triangular pediments which are supported by numerous small brackets termed dentils. The building is clad in wide rusticated weatherboards made to look like stone courses and wood blocks are nailed on at the corners to look like stone quoins.

Additions and alterations were made in 1895 when the front entrance area was extended by builder Thomas Griggs for £123. This wooden building was moved a short distance from its original site to make way for the new post office (Chief Post Office (Former), Register no. 1255) which was built in 1905-6. It was relocated further down the street when the Chief Post Office was extended in 1937. The building was remodelled for official use after the opening of the new post office; over time it has provided offices for government officials and has been used as a customs office and for rural delivery services. In 1988 the old post office became surplus to requirements and the site was proposed for redevelopment. Post Bank donated the building to the Palmerston North City Council for relocation. In March 1989, the timber building was reinstated in the town’s iconic Victoria Esplanade Gardens. The city council provided for the refurbishment and in July 1990 the old post reopened as a café.

The building is of historical significance as its construction reflects the growth and aspirations of Palmerston North in the late nineteenth century. It is an early remaining example of the town’s postal service and its classical style, and solid, permanent appearance was designed reflect the importance of the town. Valued by the local community, the former Post Office was saved from demolition and is now an important feature within the Victoria Esplanade Gardens.

Linksopen/close

Construction Professionalsopen/close

Ewing and Dillon

No biography is currently available for this construction professional

Additional informationopen/close

Construction Dates

Original Construction
1889 -
Constructed for 759 pounds 9s 11d

Addition
1895 -
Front entrance extended (Thomas Griggs, Builder, 123 pounds)

Relocation
1905 - 1906
Shifted east down Main Street East to accommodate new Post Office.

Relocation
1937 -
Moved further down Main Street to make room for the new Post Office extensions.

Relocation
1989 -
Building cut into three sections and relocated to The Esplanade.

Completion Date

31st July 2012

Report Written By

Elise Meyrick

Information Sources

Manawatu Evening Standard

Manawatu Evening Standard

'The Birth of Palmerston North', Supplement, March 1991, p. 40

Bowman & Kelly, 1993

Ian Bowman and Michael Kelly, Palmerston North Central Business District Heritage Inventory, Palmerston North, 1993

Ian Matheson Archives

Ian Matheson Archives, Palmerston North City Library

Margaret Tait, 'A Post Office Preserved', Research File A175/429

Other Information

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

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.