Newburgh Building (Former)

33 Dee Street, Invercargill

  • Newburgh Building (Former), Invercargill.
    Copyright: Heritage New Zealand. Taken By: Chris Horwell. Date: 29/09/2013.
  • Newburgh Building (Former), Invercargill.
    Copyright: Heritage New Zealand. Taken By: Chris Horwell. Date: 29/09/2013.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 2 Public Access Private/No Public Access
List Number 2470 Date Entered 24th November 1983


Extent of List Entry

Extent includes part of the land described as Pt Sec 1 Blk II Town of Invercargill (CT SL181/232) and part of the land described as Legal Road, Southland Land District, and the building known as Newburgh Building (Former) thereon. Refer to the tabled extent map at the Rārangi Kōrero Committee meeting on 8 March 2018.

City/District Council

Invercargill City


Southland Region

Legal description

Pt Sec 1 Blk II Town of Invercargill (CT SL181/232) and Legal Road, Southland Land District


The Newburgh Building (Former), designed by Christchurch architect Benjamin Ager, was built for Christchurch businessman and politician Thomas Newburgh in 1928. A four-storey Stripped Classical-style block constructed from reinforced concrete, this notable building housed shops and offices, and has historical and architectural significance.

The land on which this building stands was first granted to Invercargill gentleman John Henry Smith in May 1878. Smith leased parts of the land to various tenants including William Lewis in 1886. The mortgage holders (The Scottish and New Zealand Investment Company Limited) took the property in 1888. Lewis relinquished his lease in 1890, but then purchased the land in 1898. Lewis leased the property to the New Zealand Insurance Company in December 1900. The 15 year lease was for ‘offices on the ground floor of the building.’ Lewis died in 1908, the property transferring to his executors. The executors, members of the Lewis family, were described as Invercargill drapers. The land was transferred to Lewis’s Limited in July 1924.

In 1928, the property was transferred to Christchurch prominent share broker and local body politician Thomas Newburgh. Newburgh erected a four-story building on the prominent corner site, choosing Christchurch architect B.J. Ager to design it. Ashburton-born Benjamin Ager (1875-1959) was the son of an architect. After working as a carpenter, he went to London for several years. Returning to New Zealand, he went into private practice as an architect. His major buildings include St Elmos Court (1929, demolished following the Christchurch earthquakes). The Newburgh Building was one of his major projects outside Christchurch.

In June 1928, Ager invited tenders for the block of shops and offices. Contractor W. Williamson won the tender. Lewis’ existing building was demolished and the site cleared to sink the foundations for the reinforced concrete building. The Newburgh Buildings had a variety of tenants including professionals such as dentists on the upper floor, to commercial premises on the ground floor.

In 1944 the Invercargill Licensing Trust purchased the building as their first permanent headquarters. The Trust sold the building to Government Life Insurance in 1952, though they remained as tenants. The Government Life Insurance Offices were there until the 1980s. Since that time the building has had various tenants, and in more recent years has been occupied on the ground floor by a Night and Day convenience store.


Construction Professionalsopen/close

Williamson, William

William Williamson has been described variously as an architect, surveyor and engineer. In 1861 he was appointed Assistant Provincial Engineer in Canterbury and is described in the MacDonald Biographies as the engineer in charge of all public works south of the Rangitata. In 1864 he became surveyor to the Timaru Road Board and four years later engineer for the Levels Road Board. From 1869 to 1877 he was also the Engineer to the Timaru Borough Council and in 1869 engineer to the Geraldine Road Board.

B.J. Ager

No biography is currently available for this construction professional

Additional informationopen/close

Construction Dates

Original Construction
1928 -

Completion Date

25th January 2018

Report Written By

Heather Bauchop

Other Information

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.

A fully referenced upgrade report is available on request from the Otago/Southland Area Office of Heritage New Zealand