Commercial Building

1 Cains Terrace And 9 George Street, Timaru

  • Commercial Building, corner of Cains Tce and George St, Timaru.
    Copyright: Heritage New Zealand. Taken By: Sallie Meggitt. Date: 29/10/2017.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 2 Public Access Private/No Public Access
List Number 3153 Date Entered 23rd June 1983


Extent of List Entry

Extent includes part of the land described as Lots 5-6 DP 763 (CT CB440/54), Canterbury Land District, and the building known as Commercial Building thereon. Refer to the extent map tabled at the Rārangi Kōrero meeting on 8 June 2017.

City/District Council

Timaru District


Canterbury Region

Legal description

Lots 5-6 DP 763 (CT CB440/54), Canterbury Land District


Originally known as Quinn’s Buildings, the commercial building on the corner of 1 Cains Terrace and George Street in Timaru was constructed in 1886 to the designs of Timaru-based Belgian architect Maurice de Harven Duval. Built to house shops on the ground floor and accommodation above, in 1894 it was converted to become the well-known Werry’s Hotel and continued for much of its early life as a private guest hotel. The building has architectural and historical significance.

The commercial building was constructed for an early European settler in the district, Nicholas Quinn, who first came to New Zealand to work at the Otago goldfield diggings and eventually settled to farm and run a brick-making business at Makikihi. Constructed in 1886, Quinn’s Buildings replaced ‘tumble-down, unsightly, half burnt old shops’ on the site, which themselves were built on reclaimed land. When the foundation and cellar for Quinn’s Buildings were being dug, contractors came across a large number of whale bones. A newspaper account celebrating the new building noted that the architect was M De H Duval, the carved details of the capitals were by Mr Godfrey junior of Dunedin, the contractors for the brick, concrete work and carpentering were Messrs Jones and Palliser and the contractor for painting and plumbing was W Healey.

Situated in a prominent corner location in central Timaru, the three storeyed Victorian building has Italianate architectural influences, including pilasters with Corinthian capitals, elliptically arched windows with hood moulds, bracketed cornices and parapet. It is constructed of brick and plaster.

Internal alterations and some exterior changes were already taking place by 1893, under the direction of the building’s architect, M De H Duval, with the contractor this time being builder William Werry. Cornish-born Werry was involved in both construction and hotel proprietorship. In 1894 William and Mary Werry leased the building from Nicholas Quinn to operate it as Werry’s Hotel (also known as Werry’s Temperance Hotel). Mrs Werry had previously been operating her hotel elsewhere on Cains Terrace but shifted into the more commodious centrally located accommodation of Quinn’s Buildings in 1894-5. While the refurbishments for the shift were in progress, an advertisement in May 1894 described that ‘the house … will contain upwards of forty rooms, and will be one of the largest and most commodious hotels in Timaru’. Located very close to the Railway Station, the hotel did not supply alcohol but rather provided private accommodation for families and travellers, as well as permanent borders. This popular private hotel appears to have operated as Werry’s at least through until Mary’s death in 1918 and continued as a guest hotel until the 1930s. From circa 1935 the building housed the Commercial Bank of Australia on the ground floor and it was known as the CBA Building for many years. Since at least the 1980s, the building has housed long established Timaru real estate firm, Morton’s.


Construction Professionalsopen/close

Duval, Maurice

Maurice Duval was an European architect and engineer who set up practice in Timaru in 1861.

Palliser and Jones

No biography is currently available for this construction professional

Additional informationopen/close

Construction Dates

Original Construction
1886 -

Completion Date

26th April 2017

Report Written By

Robyn Burgess

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 Southern Region Office of Heritage New Zealand.