Clyde Town Hall and Public Library (Former)

26 Sunderland Street, Clyde

  • Clyde Town Hall and Public Library (Former). Image courtesy of
    Copyright: Just Trudy. Taken By: Just Trudy. Date: 23/02/2009.
  • Clyde Town Hall and Public Library (Former). Image courtesy of
    Copyright: PhilBee NZ - Phil Braithwaite. Taken By: PhilBee NZ - Phil Braithwaite. Date: 20/02/2013.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 2 Public Access Private/No Public Access
List Number 2367 Date Entered 19th April 1990


Extent of List Entry

Extent includes the land described as Sec 31 Blk XXIII Town of Clyde and Sec 2 SO 466760 (CT 639234), Otago Land District, and the buildings known as Clyde Town Hall and Public Library (Former) thereon.

City/District Council

Central Otago District


Otago Region

Legal description

Sec 31 Blk XXIII Town of Clyde and Sec 2 SO Plan 466760 (CT 639234), Otago Land District


The former Clyde Town Hall built in 1869, and the former Clyde Public Library built in 1874, stand as reminders of the wealth brought by Otago’s gold rushes of the 1860s and Clyde’s status as a busy gold rush town. The buildings have historical, architectural and social significance.

Clyde (or Dunstan as the town was known in its early years) was the administrative centre of the Dunstan goldfield. Photographs from the 1860s show the main street with its tight cluster of hotels, stores and businesses. Among the Sunderland Street buildings were the first town hall and the neighbouring council chambers. After the town was incorporated in 1866, the councillors discussed the need for a new town hall. Following acrimonious debate, councillors selected the site of the old town hall – a section of land that the corporation did not own, but had occupied, taking over the Victoria Hotel and Theatre as the first town hall. Councillors chose the design of Dunedin architectural partnership Mason and Clayton for the new building (probably the same design they had prepared earlier for the Dunstan Freemasons), and advertised for tenders on 1 March 1869. Joseph Over won the contract and politician Vincent Pyke laid the foundation stone in April 1869. The Tuapeka Times described the town hall as ‘a very handsome stone building of classic architecture, presenting a portico with four pillars.’ From its earliest days the town hall was used by other groups, including the Dunstan Lodge No. 103, the Masonic charter in the town.

On the adjoining section, on what was the site of the council chambers, the councillors chose to build the Clyde Public Library (later known as the Athenaeum), funded jointly by the town corporation and the Clyde Public Library Committee. Queenstown architect Frederick Burwell designed the library, and it was built by Clyde contractor J U Cambridge.

The town hall and the public library are both built in classical style, emphasising the stability, authority and enlightenment of a classical age. The former town hall has an imposing street façade with solid Doric columns and a triangular pediment. The former Clyde Public Library is more decorative, with Corinthian pilasters, a dentil course below the rectangular pediment and supporting scrolls on the façade to Sunderland Street. The buildings are significant landmarks on Sunderland Street, and an important pairing.

In 1954, the town hall was sold to Dunstan Lodge No. 103, who also took over the adjoining athenaeum. The town hall was converted to a lodge room and the athenaeum to a supper room. In 2014, the building continues to serve as the home to Dunstan Lodge No. 103.


Construction Professionalsopen/close

Burwell, F. W.

F.W. Burwell (1846-1915) is noted for designing many buildings in Invercargill, transforming the centre of the town between 1874 and the mid-1880s. Born in Scotland, Burwell served his articles with the architect John Matthews and immigrated to New Zealand in the late 1860s. By 1873, he had established his practice in Queenstown. He moved to Invercargill the following year. Once established there, he began designing elegant two and three-storey buildings in the Renaissance style. He designed almost all the buildings in Dee Street, including the hospital. 'The Crescent' was another notable Invercargill streetscape created by Burwell. In recognition of his work, he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects in 1880. The depression in the 1880s saw his commissions decline and he moved to Australia in 1887 where he practised in Melbourne, Perth and then Fremantle. He was particularly successful in the last, as Western Australia was in the middle of a building boom, and a number of his commercial buildings in central Fremantle are now classified by the Australian Heritage Commission. Burwell returned to Melbourne in 1910, and died there five years later. (Jonathan Mane-Wheoki, 'Burwell, Frederick William (1846-1915)' in Jane Thomson (ed.), Southern People: a dictionary of Otago Southland biography, Dunedin, 1998, p. 74.)

Mason and Clayton

In 1863 William Mason took W H Clayton into partnership. Clayton had had 15 years experience, mostly in Tasmania. He was a Tasmanian by birth who had trained in Brussels and London. He stayed in Dunedin for only six years and then moved to Wellington as Colonial Architect. Buildings designed by Mason and Clayton while the latter was in Dunedin included All Saints Church, Edinburgh House, the Bank of New South Wales on Princes Street and the old Provincial Chambers on the present site of the Chief Post Office. Of these only All Saints Church remains. Clayton is also probably the architect of Lisburn House, a polychromatic brick building similar to All Saints.

Over, Joseph

No biography is currently available for this construction professional

Cambridge, J U

No biography is currently available for this construction professional

Additional informationopen/close

Construction Dates

Original Construction
1874 - 1875

1954 -
Building taken over by Freemasons (Athenaeum converted to supper room)

Original Construction
1869 -
Town Hall

Completion Date

19th November 2014

Report Written By

Heather Bauchop

Other Information

A fully referenced upgrade report is available on request from the Otago/Southland Area 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.