249-253 Broadway, Marton
List Entry Information
List Entry Status
List Entry Type
Historic Place Category 2
Private/No Public Access
2nd July 1982
Horizons (Manawatu-Wanganui) Region
Pt Sec 17 Rangitikei AG RES Site 156
Mair, John Thomas
John Thomas Mair (1876-1959) was born in Invercargill and began his career with the New Zealand Railways on the staff of the Office Engineer, George Troup. In 1906 he travelled to the United States of America where he studied architecture at the University of Pennsylvania. He then worked in the office of George B. Post in New York before travelling to England where he was admitted as an Associate of the Royal Institute of British Architects. He became a Fellow in 1940.
On his return to New Zealand he entered private practice, one of his first buildings being the Presbyterian First Church, Invercargill (1915), a prominent building of Romanesque character. He then practised in Wellington, carrying out largely domestic commissions.
In 1918 he was appointed Inspector of Military Hospitals by the Defence Department, and in 1920 he became architect to the Department of Education. Following the retirement of John Campbell in 1922, Mair was appointed Government Architect, a position which he held until his retirement in 1942. During this period he was responsible for a variety of buildings, including the Courthouse, Hamilton, the Post Office in High Street, Christchurch, Government Life Office and the Departmental Building, both in Wellington, and the Jean Batten Building, Auckland. Such buildings show a departure from tradition, with the emphasis on function, structure and volume as opposed to a stylistic treatment of the building fabric.
A Fellow of the New Zealand Institute of Architects, Mair was made a Life Member in 1942. His son John Lindsay Mair also practised as an architect.
Bignell, Arthur G.
Arthur Bignell was one of the most prominent contractors in Wanganui since the 1890s, having formed a partnership with Robert Russell (who retired in 1918) in the early part of that decade. Their company was responsible for the erection of a number of prominent buildings at Wanganui, including the Wakefield Chambers, Selwyn Buildings, CML Building, Grand Hotel, Trafalgar Building and Perrett's Building, as well as a number of renowned homes in the area and the Patea and Taihape hospitals. Bignell was also prominent in the public life of Wanganui, serving on a number of local bodies (including the Wanganui Borough Council, Harbour Board, Board of Trustees of the Wanganui Collegiate), and having held the position of Wanganui Mayor for one term from 1904 - 1906.
Builder of morgue, Heads Road Cemetery, Wanganui, in 1930. Bignell was in partnership with Robert Russell from 1892; as 'Russell & Bignell' they were respected contractors undertaking work throughout the North Island.
The two-storied 'L' shaped, corner building is designed in the Inter-War Stripped Classical Style with a flat parapet and a regular rhythm of equal sized bays with mainly large window openings in each. There are five bays on the west elevation and four on the south extending from a stepped base to a square moulded cornice with vestigial pilasters in the same plane as the wall and parapet above the cornice. The building is constructed on a rectangular site at the junction of Broadway and Hammond Street and it has been designed with a recessed chamfer on the corner. The main entry is located on the corner and is accessed through a semi-circular portico with two ionic columns forming a balcony with a metal balustrade.
The building appears to be constructed of concrete with steel window joinery with metal spandrel panels between the ground and first floor windows. Signage of "Post Office" and "Marton" is fixed to the parapet. A marble foundation stone is fixed to the base on the west elevation.
A Ceylonese visitor was impressed by the design of the Post Office.
The new Marton Post Office, designed by the Government Architectural Branch, in accordance with a lay-out furnished by the Post and Telegraph Department, has earned renown for itself The appearance and arrangement of the building attracted the attention of a representative of the Ceylon Government, with the result that a copy of the plans was asked for. These have now been forwarded to the authorities in Ceylon. (Press Service. Press, Volume LXIV, Issue 19284, 13 April 1928, Page 8)
The two street elevations are the most significant elements and include:
rendered concrete with decorative columns
steel window joinery
balcony with steel balustrading
metal spandrel panels with circular motif
Although not visible the rear elevations and roof are also of significance.
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.