Soldiers Club Building (Former)

5-7 George Street And 236 Cuba Street, Palmerston North

  • Soldiers Club Building (Former).
    Copyright: NZ Historic Places Trust.
  • .
    Copyright: NZ Historic Places Trust. Taken By: Elise Meyrick. Date: 13/07/2012.
  • Allen Studios, Palmerston North, Fund raising procession, February 1918.
    Copyright: Palmerston North City Library. Taken By: Allen Studios.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 2 Public Access Private/No Public Access
List Number 1269 Date Entered 2nd July 1982

Locationopen/close

City/District Council

Palmerston North City

Region

Horizons (Manawatu-Wanganui) Region

Legal description

Lot 1 DP 76945 (CT WN44A/81), Wellington Land District

Location description

Corner George Street and Cuba Street, Palmerston North.

Summaryopen/close

The Returned and Service’s Association (RSA) building was built in 1917 by the ANZAC Club and Manawatu Patriotic Society. Plans began in 1916 to build a facility for returning troops who might be based in the military camp at Awapuni, or who were passing through Palmerston North. The building would replace the temporary quarters at the Opera House. Over £8000 for its construction was raised through major community fundraising campaigns throughout World War One (1914-1918) and two art unions (lotteries). The land, a section on the corner of Cuba and George Streets, was donated by a wealthy local farmer, Percy A. McHardy. Soldiers’ clubs provided facilities, such as a place to read or to play billiards, for returned servicemen. The clubs also played an important role in assisting returned servicemen in their transition from military to civilian life.

The original plans were for a four storey building with three large shops on the ground floor. The first floor was to contain a social room, a parcel room and a club office; the second floor was planned to have a reading room, a billiard room, two writing rooms and a smoking room; while the top floor was to have a sitting room, a kitchen and dining room and a number of dormitories. This ambitious plan was cut down to two stories of social rooms, eliminating the ground floor shops. The foundation stone was ceremonially laid by Mr McHardy on the 28 February 1917. The building was designed by architects L G West and Sons, and constructed by Rolf(e) and Dickel builders. Mr Ludolph Georg West was born and educated in Denmark, immigrating to New Zealand in 1868. He designed many of the private dwellings and public buildings in early Palmerston North and was mayor of the borough 1886-7. The design features the first floor balcony overhanging the footpath, which is architecturally unique in Palmerston North. The overall building style owes much to the new world Regency and later Georgian styles; characterised by simple hipped roofs, flat dormer windows below the roofline and colonnade verandahs. The Manawatu Standard published a description of the building on the 19th November 1917:

‘The building has a substantial well-built appearance, and is a welcome addition to that quarter of town. The front elevation shows a design in fine Doric colonnade of the double order, finished off with a roofing in French tiles.’

The building was used as clubrooms by the RSA until the 1960s. During this time various alterations were undertaken, the first being the conversion of the ground floor into shops in 1930. In late 1944 and during 1945 the balcony area was glazed in and incorporated as club space. In 1952 the then two corner shops were converted back into a billiard room for club purposes. The building was sold to ‘Anchor Holdings’ in 1970 when the RSA moved to new premises in Broadway Avenue. The building was sold to the Palmerston North City Council in 1974. Since then the building has had a number of different owners and occupants, resulting in an array of internal alterations. The ground floor is currently occupied by ‘Café Cuba.’

The building represents the expression of community concern for returning World War One troops and their rehabilitation. The building is also representative of the rare Regency architectural style, and the work of designer L G West who was responsible for many prominent Palmerston North buildings.

Linksopen/close

Construction Professionalsopen/close

West, Ernst

No biography is currently available for this construction professional

West, Ludolph Georg

No biography is currently available for this construction professional

Additional informationopen/close

Construction Dates

Modification
1930 -
Ground floor converted into shops

Modification
1944 - 1945
Substantial portion of balcony area glazed and incorporated as club space

Modification
1952 -
Two corner shops converted back into billiard room for club

Original Construction
1917 -
Construction (£6500)

Completion Date

31st July 2012

Report Written By

Elise Meyrick

Information Sources

Manawatu Evening Standard

Manawatu Evening Standard

19 November 1917, p. 5

New Zealand Historic Places Trust (NZHPT)

New Zealand Historic Places Trust

NZHPT Registration Report, ‘Napier Soldiers’ Club (Former), Napier,’ June 2009, p. 28

Scholefield, 1940

G. H. Scholefield, A Dictionary of New Zealand Biography, Department of Internal Affairs, Wellington, 1940

Other Information

A referenced copy of this 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.