Smith's Grain Store (Former)

9 Tyne Street, Oamaru

  • Smith's Grain Store (Former), 9 Tyne St, Oamaru.
    Copyright: North Otago Museum. Taken By: North Otago Museum.
  • Smith's Grain Store (Former), 9 Tyne St, Oamaru. Third building from the left. Image courtesy of www.jimwitkowski.com .
    Copyright: J Witkowski. Taken By: J Witkowski. Date: 1/05/2002.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 1 Public Access Private/No Public Access
List Number 4380 Date Entered 2nd July 1987

Locationopen/close

Extent of List Entry

Extent includes the land described as Lots 22-23 DP 88 (CTs OT18C/647; 9680), Otago Land District and the building known as Smith's Grain Store (Former) thereon, and its fittings and fixtures.

City/District Council

Waitaki District

Region

Otago Region

Legal description

Lots 22-23 DP 88 (CTs OT18C/647, 9680), Otago Land District.

Summaryopen/close

Smith’s Grain Store (Former) located in Oamaru’s historic Harbour/Tyne precinct was described on its opening in March 1882 as more of a ‘temple of art than a grain store.’ It is an outstanding example of the ornate Victorian architecture for which Oamaru is renowned. James Johnston designed the two storey grain store in Italianate style and it was built by stonemasons Messrs Hamilton and Co. The Store could hold 30,000 sacks of grain.

Little is known about the first owner Joseph Smith. He advertised himself as a ‘cash buyer of wheat, oats & other farm produce’, and also dealt with matters concerning shipping and general commission business. He seems to have occupied the grain store until around the end of the 1880s. Grain and seed merchant Charles Cooke occupied the lower floor in the 1890s and early 1900s. In 1906 the building was taken over by the Oamaru Mail, which was to occupy the store until 1970, after which it was used as a joinery workshop. In 1992 the building was purchased by the Oamaru Whitestone Civic Trust and restored.

Smith’s Grain Store is constructed of Oamaru stone. The exterior is elaborately decorated with rusticated pilasters between round-headed windows on the ground floor, with plain pilasters with Corinthian capitals on the first floor, and much floral relief and decorative moulding on the façade to Tyne Street. The building is rectangular in plan, with a plain façade to Harbour Street. The plain Harbour Street elevation has a large central opening on each floor and several window openings.

Smith’s Grain Store (Former) has architectural significance; its ornate Victorian Italianate design is an outstanding example of commercial architecture from this period, and unusual for a grain store. It is an elegant building and is a special element in the unbroken sequence of Victorian facades on Tyne Street. The building is historically important as a grain store, symbolising the importance of North Otago as a grain producing region. The Grain Store is a key part of the nationally significant Harbour/Tyne Street Historic Area (Register Number 7064).

In 2013 the upper floor is used as a gallery space, with the lower floor being used for a variety of retail purposes.

Assessment criteriaopen/close

Historical Significance or Value

The opulence of this building is symbolic of the importance of North Otago as a grain producing region. The building could hold 30,000 sacks of grain. From 1906-1970 the building was used as the Oamaru Mail office. It has also served as a dance hall and skating rink and more importantly the first home of the North Otago Farmers' Co-op. The building is currently used as a joinery workshop.

ARCHITECTURAL SIGNIFICANCE:

An elegant building with a high degree of ornamentation unusual in a grain store. It is one of the most elaborate grain stores in the country and a prominent member of a fine unbroken sequence of colonial facades on Tyne Street.

TOWNSCAPE/LANDMARK SIGNIFICANCE:

The building is a prominent member of the fine sequence of ornate Oamaru stone buildings on the east side of Tyne Street forming a key part of a nationally significant historic area.

Linksopen/close

Construction Professionalsopen/close

Johnston, James

James Johnston, a mason by trade, was the main rival to Forrester and Lemon in Oamaru. He designed a number of large buildings in a Renaissance palazzo style. These include the Globe Hotel (1881), the Waitaki County Chambers (1881) and Smith's Grain Store (1882).

Messrs Hamilton and Co

Stonemasons

Sidon, Henry

Henry Sidon was an Oamaru builder. He was born in London and served an apprenticeship to a builder after he left school. He came to Oamaru in 1859. After owning a sheep run for some time, he returned to the building trade in 1878. Sidon built many Oamaru buildings, including some of those associated with Waitaki Boys’ High School, the grandstand at Oamaru racecourse, the Union Stores, a number of dwellings and the Ardgowan Presbyterian Church.

Source: Information Upgrade Report for Crown Flour Mills (Former), Oamaru, Register No. 2285, Sept 2013

Additional informationopen/close

Historical Narrative

This ornate Italianate grain store was built for grain and seed merchant Joseph Smith on Tyne Street in 1882. Little is known about Joseph Smith. He advertised himself as a ‘cash buyer of wheat, oats & other farm produce’, and also dealt with matters concerning shipping and general commission business. He seems to have occupied the grain store until around the end of the 1880s. The Store had a capacity of 30,000 sacks of grain.

On its opening the Oamaru Mail gushed, ranking it as ‘one of the handsomest buildings in Oamaru’. The architect was James Johnston, the masons Messrs Hamilton and Co., and the carpenter was Henry Sidon. James Hamilton was also involved in the construction of the Emmanuel Congregational Church (1882), and later the grandstand at the showgrounds in Oamaru (1885). Henry Sidon, in business in Oamaru since 1873, was responsible for the carpentry work on the Waitaki Boys High School (1883), a grandstand at the showgrounds, and the Crown Flour Mills, among other projects.

The building ran through from Tyne Street to Harbour Street, a distance of 100 ft. (30m). It had a frontage to Tyne Street of 44 ft, with walls 36 ft high (13.4m by 11m). The building was two storied, the first floor 20 ft in height (6m), and the second 15 ft. (4.5m). The upper storey was supported by heavy pillars, between which ran a tramway used to carry grain from the railway track along the store. A water engine was used to lift the grain from the ground floor to the upper floor, and a number of hatches provided access at various points along the upper floor. The ground floor was concrete. From its opening, the upper storey of the store seems to have been used for a variety of community purposes, including church services, a dance hall and a skating rink, and also as home to the North Otago Farmers’ Cooperative.

Smith, as with many other merchants of the time, fell victim to the tough economic times of the mid-1880s. Only two years after its opening he offered the building for sale, it remained unsold. Grain and seed merchant C.W. Cooke occupied the lower floor from the mid-1890s to around 1903. Charles Wilkinson Cooke also acted as an agent for a number of companies, including farm machinery manufacturers Massey Harris and the United Insurance Company Limited.

In 1906 the building was taken over by the Oamaru Mail, which was to occupy the store until 1970. This was the paper’s third home since it was first published in 1864. George Jones (1844-1920), the editor and owner of the paper, was a prominent figure in Otago, and was Member of the House of Representatives for Waitaki District in the 1880s, as well as being involved in local body politics. After the Oamaru Mail moved out the building was purchased by Bill de Geest (1930-1991) and used as a joinery workshop.

In 1992 the building was purchased by the Oamaru Whitestone Civic Trust and restored.

Smith’s Grain Store is constructed of Oamaru stone. The exterior is elaborately decorated with rusticated pilasters between round-headed windows on the ground floor, with plain pilasters with Corinthian capitals on the first floor, and much floral relief and decorative moulding on the façade to Tyne Street. The building is rectangular in plan, with a plain façade to Harbour Street. The plain Harbour Street elevation has a large central opening on each floor and several window openings. The interior reflects the industrial purpose of the building with plain dressed stone walls and open timber post and beam system on the first floor. A staircase leads to a mezzanine level at the west end of the building, and another leads to the first floor. A group of offices on the first floor is lined with tongue and groove timber, with panelled doors and patterned glass in the windows.

There have been some modifications, which are difficult to trace, including the installation of steel casement windows on the Tyne Street elevation. The Oamaru Whitestone Civic Trust have rebuilt the roof light and resheathed the roof. On the ground floor a new room has been constructed in the south west corner, and new doors built to form a lobby.

Smith’s Grain Store (Former) has architectural significance; its ornate Victorian Italianate design is an outstanding example of commercial architecture from this period, and unusual for a grain store. It is an elegant building and is a special element in the unbroken sequence of Victorian facades on Tyne Street. The building is historically important as a grain store, symbolising the importance of North Otago as a grain producing region. The Grain Store is a key part of the nationally significant Harbour/Tyne Street Historic Area (Record Number 7064).

In 2013 the upper floor is used as a gallery space, with the lower floor being used for a variety of retail purposes.

Physical Description

This historic place was registered under the Historic Places Act 1980. This text below is from the original Building Classification Committee report considered by the NZHPT Board at the time of registration.

ARCHITECTURAL DESCRIPTION (Style):

An ornate Victorian Italianate commercial building with Neo-Renaissance detailing evident in the round headed windows and partially rusticated Ionic pilasters on the ground floor. The latter carry through to Corinthian pilasters on this first floor.

MODIFICATIONS:

The colonettes of the windows on the ground floor and the left hand side of the building's first floor have been abruptly severed by the installation of heavy stone transoms.

Notable Features

Fine stone masonry on capitals and in window heads by Hamilton and Co, masons.

Construction Dates

Original Construction
1882 -

Restoration
1996 - 1997

Construction Details

Oamaru stone

Completion Date

26th April 2013

Report Written By

Heather Bauchop

Information Sources

Oamaru Borough Council

Historic Building Catalogue

Oamaru Mail

Oamaru Mail

Oamaru Mail, 31 March 1882, p.4

Other Information

A fully referenced Upgrade Report is available from the Otago/Southland Area office of NZHPT.

This historic place was registered under the Historic Places Act 1980. This report includes the text from the original Building Classification Committee report considered by the NZHPT Board at the time of registration.

This registration is also included in the Harbour/Tyne Street Historic Area (Record no. 7064).

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.