91 Victoria Street And Montreal Street, Christchurch
List Entry Information
List Entry Status
List Entry Type
Historic Place Category 2
Private/No Public Access
26th November 1981
Extent of List Entry
Extent includes part of the land described as Lot 1 DP 46897 and DP 47867 (CT SRS CB24K/138), Canterbury Land District and the building known as Victoria Mansions thereon. Refer to the extent map tabled at the Rārangi Kōrero meeting on 5 October 2017.
Lot 1 DP 46897 and DP 47867 (CT SRS CB24K/138), Canterbury Land District
Constructed in 1935-36 as a large complex of flats, the building known as Victoria Mansions at 91 Victoria Street and Montreal Street in central Christchurch has architectural and aesthetic significance as a reinforced concrete Moderne style building designed by noted inter-war Christchurch architect, Heathcote Helmore. The building has historical and social significance as a new type of central city accommodation, demonstrating the way of life of past residents, including that of country visitors requiring short-term stays.
From the mid nineteenth century, Victoria Street (known as Whately Road until after the late 1870s) was a major thoroughfare and a centre of commercial and other activity. Early town maps show that there were structures on this specific site by 1877. During the 1930s there was a significant increase in the number of flats built in the city and tenants were beginning to demand a high standard of comfort from landlords. The Victoria Mansions building was a large and up-to-date block of 21 flats, designed by Heathcote Helmore, principal of Helmore and Cotterill architects. Although designed in 1931, construction did not begin until June 1935 and was completed about a year later, at a cost of approximately ₤20,000. At the time, the Victoria Mansions building was described as being ‘on almost an island site … there will be only five flats on each of the four floors, and another flat of the penthouse type on the roof. The flats will be of the three-room, two-room, and bed-sitting room type … the rooms will be larger than those of the usual flat. The larger rooms will have fireplaces, and most of the flats will have balconies. All the flats will have a hot-water service, and central heating…’. The new style accommodation was in high demand and all the flats were already let several months in advance of the building’s completion. A caretaker’s flat was included within the building. Adjoining the shorter east elevation there was originally a single storey annex housing a café, and next to this fronting Victoria Street were garages for those residents with a motorcar.
With an L-shaped footprint, the Moderne style Victoria Mansions appears as a corner building, with the main façade fronting north towards an adjoining triangular reserve land parcel containing the Victoria Clock Tower. The other main façade fronts Montreal Street to the west and the shorter eastern side fronts Victoria Street. The building has four storeys and a penthouse apartment atop a flat roof. The building is constructed of reinforced concrete, with brick in-fill and a cement finish. Windows are simple rectilinear forms and detailing incorporates simplified classical elements. Many of the flats possess a balcony, and on the west façade these are cantilevered.
Although essentially utilised as residential accommodation, on occasion some flats have operated as a business. One part, for example, operated as a doctor’s surgery for over a decade. Internal changes have been made to some of the apartments over time but some original fixtures and fittings still remain in the building, including an Art Deco style Otis lift to service each of the floors. Victoria Mansions was damaged in the Canterbury earthquakes of 2010-11. The single storeyed annex was subsequently demolished. The building is currently being repaired and seismically upgraded in 2017, with financial assistance from the Christchurch City Council.
Jamieson, J & W
Samuel Jamieson established the Jamieson's building and contracting business in 1864 at Canterbury. His sons James and William were innovative and progressive builders. They were the first in New Zealand, for example, to use steam cranes for lifting heavy masonry during the construction of the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament (1901-5). They were also responsible for the Christchurch Press Company building (completed 1909) and Government Buildings, Cathedral Square (1909-13).
J and W Jamieson Ltd was acknowledged to be one of the leading building firms in New Zealand in and around the turn of the century.
No biography is currently available for this construction professional
1935 - 1936
Demolished - additional building on site
Annex (including garages) demolished
Building strengthened and repaired
21st June 2017
Report Written By
Robert Esau, 'Helmore and Cotterill : the formative years', MA thesis, University of Canterbury, 1988
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 Southern Region Office of Heritage New Zealand.