Theosophical Society Hall (HPB Lodge) (Former)

371 Queen Street, Auckland

  • Theosophical Society Hall (HPB Lodge) (Former), Auckland.
    Copyright: Heritage New Zealand. Taken By: Joan McKenzie. Date: 24/05/2015.
  • Theosophical Society Hall (HPB Lodge) (Former), Auckland. Image courtesy of www.flickr.com.
    Copyright: Steve Parker . Taken By: Steve Parker – Spark-Photo. Date: 23/07/2013.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 2 Public Access Private/No Public Access
List Number 2650 Date Entered 26th November 1981

Locationopen/close

Extent of List Entry

Extent includes the land described as Pt Allot 14 Sec 29 Town of Auckland, Pt DP 5256 (CT NA352/144), North Auckland Land District, and the building known as Theosophical Society Hall (HPB Lodge) (Former) thereon.

City/District Council

Auckland Council (Auckland City Council)

Region

Auckland Council

Legal description

Pt Allot 14 Sec 29 Town of Auckland, Pt DP 5256 (CT NA352/144), North Auckland Land District

Summaryopen/close

The monumental Theosophical Society Hall (HPB Lodge) built in 1922-3 in Auckland’s Queen Street reflects the major importance of Theosophy as a new spiritual movement in late nineteenth- and twentieth-century New Zealand society and the organisation’s ability to create enduring and prosperous institutions. The purpose-built facility has aesthetic and architectural significance for the quality of its neo-Classical design by Auckland architect and Lodge member H.F. Robinson, including notable interior features some of which survive. The place is a significant visual element within the context of upper Queen Street, and the Myers Park Historic Area (List No. 7008). As the former rooms of one New Zealand’s early Theosophical Societies the place has historical significance as the focus of Theosophical activity in the city from 1923 until 1987; for its strong association with significant Theosophists including Lilian Edger and Geraldine Hemus; and as the former New Zealand Sectional Headquarters (1923-48).

Successive iwi and hapu groups occupied Horotiu including the present-day Queen Street gully. Traditions refer to a small pa on or near the current Town Hall. Shortly after the establishment of Auckland as colonial capital in 1840, the Crown granted Allotment 14 to a Thomas Cassidy. In 1883, the property on which a timber building was constructed by 1908 was bought by Wilhlem Paganini whose daughters sold to the Theosophical Society in 1922.

The foundation stone was laid in December 1922. The brick building described as much in advance of anything the Society in New Zealand had attempted, was designed by Auckland architect and Society member Henry F. Robinson and built by local contractors Craig Brothers. Featuring a projecting entry porch, columns, upper-storey balcony of temple-front appearance and a notable interior, the visually striking neo-Classical design was of a style traditionally associated with monumental public architecture, or the buildings of the banking sector, Freemasonry, and Nonconformist churches.

The Theosophical Society was founded in New York in 1875 as a world organisation for the promotion of brotherhood and encouragement of the study of religion, philosophy and science and man’s place in the universe. New Zealand Prime Minster Harry Atkinson was among the movement’s many followers. The Auckland Society (the second in New Zealand) was chartered in March 1892, four years before formation of the New Zealand Section. The movement attracted middle-class business and professional people and some of the early leaders were women. Founding member of the Auckland Society and first General Secretary (1896-7) of the New Zealand Section, Lilian Edger (1862-1941), had graduated MA from Canterbury College in 1882. Her niece Geraldine Hemus, an Auckland solicitor and in 1907 only the third woman to be admitted to the bar in New Zealand, joined in 1898 and was among the founders of the Society’s Vasanta Primary School at Epsom (1919-59). The H.P.B. Lodge, which took its name from the initials of Helena P. Blavatsky one of Theosophy’s founders, was chartered in February 1903.

In 1923, The HPB Lodge and the Section moved to the new Queen Street building, the primary venue for meetings, study classes, meditation classes and social gatherings. The Section occupied the first floor, a mezzanine. On the ground floor were the Society’s lecture hall, the library, and a combined book depot and enquiries office. The basement contained the lodge room, classrooms and a social room; the lower basement the strong-room and the shrine room. In 1948 the Section moved to Epsom, followed by the H.P.B. Lodge membership in 1987. Following sale of the Queen Street property in 1994, the building became a nightclub and narrowly escaped demolition in 1997. In 2000, the building underwent further alterations for conversion to a cabaret-type entertainment venue, its current (2015) use.

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Construction Professionalsopen/close

Robinson, Henry.F

No biography is currently available for this construction professional

Craig Brothers

No biography is currently available for this construction professional

Additional informationopen/close

Construction Dates

Modification
1953 -
Part of lodge room flooring replaced and false wall constructed in shrine room

Modification
1983 -
toilets in library area; fire separation

Modification
1994 -
Bar in lecture hall, fire egress door and ramp (ground floor); Men’s toilet area, and classroom area changed (basement); Strong room door removed (lower basement);

Addition
2000 -
Rear, for new stage and backstage facilities

Modification
2000 -
Additional level in roof space; dormer windows introduced; erformance area, bar, restore entry, new toilets and office provided; mezzanine installed in main hall office converted to bar (ground floor); Basement converted for accommodation suites; Lower basement converted for manager’s suite; Lift installed

Completion Date

24th May 2015

Report Written By

Joan McKenzie

Information Sources

Auckland Star

Auckland Star

New Zealand Herald

New Zealand Herald, 12 July 1932, p. 6; 28 September 1933, p. 6.

Patterson, Jack

‘HPB Lodge/History’

URL http://hpb.theosophy.org.nz/content/history (accessed 20 May 2015)

Anon, 2013

‘Theosophical Encyclopedia, Theosophy in New Zealand’

‘Theosophical Encyclopedia, Theosophy in New Zealand’ (published 13 Nov 2012) URL http://www.theosophyforward.com/theosophical-encyclopedia/677-theosophy-in-new-zealand (accessed 24 May 2015).

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 Northern Regional Office of Heritage New Zealand