Historical Significance or Value
Craig's Building has historical significance as an early 1880s café, a venue type that evidently appeared in New Zealand in the 1860s. It has value for its role as a fashionable meeting place and venue in which to entertain in Auckland's Queen Street, and as commercial premises constructed on the main street during Auckland's economic boom of the late 1870s and early 1880s. The place has historical significance for its association with noted nineteenth-century photographer and property entrepreneur John Nicol Crombie and his estate, who commissioned the design and construction of the building. Crombie is a figure of considerable historical significance well known for his photographic record of Auckland, its people and events over the formative years of 1855 to 1869. The place is also associated with confectioner and restaurateur Charles Canning (1823?-1897), the tenant for whom the premises was designed.
Craig's Building has considerable historical significance for its five-decade service (c.1906-1969) as the headquarters of the industrial conglomerate J.J. Craig Limited, and reflects the importance of centrally located office accommodation in Auckland's expanding and diversifying local economy around the turn of the twentieth century. The place also has value as a place of retail activity on Auckland's main street for over 125 years and reflects changing retail trends in the Queen Street Valley in the 1960s.
Aesthetic Significance or Value:
Craig's Building has aesthetic significance for its highly ornate façade which incorporates a striking pair of aedicule window openings at first storey level, pilasters with incised arabesques on the second storey, and an elaborate cornice and parapet with circular-headed entablature. The place has aesthetic value as an important visual element in a group of four nineteenth-century commercial buildings on the east side of Queen Street immediately to the south of the Shortland Street intersection. Both Craig's Building and the broader group enhance the wider aesthetic value of Queen Street, one of New Zealand's premier commercial thoroughfares. Parts of the interior can also be considered to have some aesthetic significance, notably a staircase, linings and mouldings on its two upper floors.
Architectural Significance or Value:
Craig's Building has high architectural significance as one of few known surviving buildings designed and constructed as a Victorian-era café or restaurant. It has particular architectural value for the quality of its Italianate design and detailing. It also has architectural significance as a surviving commercial building designed by Richard Keals and Son, an early Auckland architectural practice of note.
(a) The extent to which the place reflects important or representative aspects of New Zealand history:
Craig's Building reflects important and representative aspects of New Zealand's history particularly the provision of venues for public dining and socialising ap-propriate to the needs of a growing urban middle class in nineteenth- century colonial society. It also reflects social change and the increasing importance and role of women as consumers in the mid- to late-Victorian period. The place reflects the ongoing evolution of commercial centres in the latter half of the nineteenth century and, as the head office of J.J. Craig Limited from 1904 until 1969, illustrates the expansion of nineteenth-century family businesses into di-versified industries and their absorption into larger holdings in the later decades of the twentieth century.
(b) The association of the place with events, persons, or ideas of importance in New Zealand history:
The place has a strong association with prominent Auckland industrialist Jo-seph James Craig (1860?-1916), and the regionally important industrial con-glomerate J.J. Craig Limited. It also has connections with Winstone Limited, which took over Craig's business in 1969. The place has further associations with noted early Auckland photographer and property investor John Nicol Crombie (1827-1878) and his estate, under whose auspices the building was constructed in 1882. In 1885, it was the venue for a mayoral banquet to cele-brate construction of the city's Free Library and Art Gallery.
(g) The technical accomplishment or value, or design of the place:
The place can be considered of high significance for the quality and unusual-ness of its external design, which may reflect the exotic quality of nineteenth-century restaurants. Its main facade includes incised arabesques and a cornice supporting an ornate circular-headed entablature, features not commonly found on other surviving nineteenth-century buildings in the Auckland CBD. The de-sign and construction of Craig's building is also associated with building profes-sionals of considerable significance, notably Richard Keals and Son one of Auckland's earliest architectural practices; and contractor Robert Jenkinson who, as part of an earlier partnership, was responsible for the erection of build-ings of importance notably The Pah (1877-9) and the west wing of the Auckland Mental Asylum (1878-81). The building is a relatively well-preserved example of the Keals' work and unlike Blackett's Building (1878-9), the best known sur-viving commercial work by the practice, it retains its ornate parapet and has not been altered by the addition of a further storey.
(j) The importance of identifying rare types of historic places:
The place can be considered to have considerable significance as one of relatively few known surviving buildings designed and used as a nineteenth-century café or restaurant. In relation to other purpose-built cafes, restaurants or related institutions, it appears to be of early date.
(k)The extent to which the place forms part of a wider historical and cultural complex or historical and cultural landscape:
Craig's Building forms a notable part of an important historical and cultural landscape in the Queen Street area, which reflects Auckland's development as a major financial and commercial centre. In its own right and as part of a broader group of four adjoining nineteenth-century structures, the place can be considered to have high value for its contribution to the streetscape in Queen Street - one of New Zealand's busiest pedestrian thoroughfares - and as an in-creasingly unusual remaining example of the intensive small-scale urban devel-opment that once characterised Auckland's colonial commercial heart.
Summary of Significance or Values
This place was assessed against, and found it to qualify under the following criteria: This place was assessed against, and found it to qualify under the following criteria: a, b, g, j, k.
It is considered that this place qualifies as a Category II historic place.
Early history of the site
Prior to the founding of colonial Auckland, the Queen Street gully was known as Horotiu and was subject to intermittent Maori occupation. Ngati Whatua's offer to transfer a large area of land to the British Crown for the creation of a colonial capital was formally agreed in September 1840.
The future site of Craig's Building at the southern corner of Queen Street and Shortland Crescent, was part of an 1842 Crown Grant to Robert Tod of Nelson. In circa 1857, a two-storey timber store was erected on Lot 3, the front of a two-lot holding separated by St Mungo Lane. Changing hands several times, the retail establishment was bought with adjoining land in 1871 by noted photographer and property investor John Nicol Crombie (1827-1878). Crombie, well known for his photographic record of Auckland, its people and events over the years 1855 to 1869, returned to England in 1872.
In September 1871 Edinburgh-born confectioner Charles Canning (1823?-1897) opened a shop, out-catering business and café on the property. Canning had been in business as a confectioner in Auckland since his arrival in 1855. Advertisements for his Queen Street property promoted the sale of breads, biscuits and confectionary, including tinned biscuits that had been kiln-dried and were mentioned as suitable for long voyages. Jellies for invalids were also available. The building incorporated St Mungo Café, which contained a complete suite of rooms set aside for the accommodation of Auckland's ladies.
Continental-style cafes had opened in Britain by the late 1840s, as an alternative to eating plain English food in the dining rooms of inns or taverns. By the 1870s, in addition to dining rooms catering for the emerging middle-classes, complexes included banqueting rooms to meet the requirements of businessmen. Nineteenth-century café culture appears to have come to New Zealand in the early 1860s. An early establishment was the self-proclaimed London-style, Universal Café opened in Dunedin in October 1861. The Restaurant and Café Royal established in the same city months later was soon joined by a Royal Café de Paris. The Provincial Café and Dining Hall, opened in Invercargill in 1862, incorporated a smoking room with attached library and reading room with English, Australian and New Zealand papers updated by every mail.
Cafés in Auckland in 1864 included Stewart's Café and Restaurant in Wyndham Street, and the Café de Paris in Queen Street, joined later that year by the Al'liance opened by the owners of the Café and Restaurant Napoleon.
Canning's Queen Street premises, including its dining establishment, was a reflection of social change and the development of an increasingly prosperous and growing middle class in mid-Victorian Auckland society. Men were generally able to dine out in restaurants, hotels or public dining-rooms. With the emergence of shopping as a middle-class leisure activity, however, there were few places where respectable non-chaperoned women could dine before the widespread development of tea rooms and related dining establishments.
Construction of St Mungo Café (1882)
In 1882 the timber premises at the front of the site were replaced by the three-storey St Mungo Café, an impressively ornate building constructed in brick. The project, undertaken during Auckland's economic boom of the late 1870s and early 1880s, was instigated by Harriet Ashby, the remarried widow of Crombie. Crombie had died in 1878 during a trip back to New Zealand to check on his investments.
The new building was erected for Canning's continued use, and in order to facilitate its construction his shop was temporarily relocated. Canning informed gentlemen who had long patronised the café that that a branch of the business would still be carried on at the rear of the site of the old building, perhaps suggesting a two-stage redevelopment. It is unclear if an earlier element, erected after 1865-6, was retained. However, an 1882 account of the project indicates that the allotment ran back behind the City Club and was to be entirely built over, with the basement occupying the whole area.
The rebuilt premises were designed to be visually distinctive, being more lavishly detailed that either of its three-storey neighbours: a building to the north constructed in 1882, or the older St Mungo House (later St Mungo Chambers) erected to the south in 1862-3. Although its general appearance adopted a broad Italianate style - the popular architectural style for commercial buildings of the period - it was noted to be 'of a somewhat different finish to that hitherto in vogue' in Auckland. It is unclear whether this referred to the building's ornately plastered exterior or to particular features of the interior. However, its external appearance can be considered to be comparatively unusual, incorporating elements such as incised arabesques on the pilasters of the upper storey and a circular-headed entablature.
The design may have been intended to emphasise the exotic nature of cafes and restaurants as an urban building type. As places of recreation and entertainment, they usually had decorated rooms in different styles. Restaurants were fashionable places to be seen, but were often more ornate than stylish and sometimes lacked quality and comfort. Most evoked continental connections, usually through the name, some such as Auckland's Al'liance opened in 1864 advising that French, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish and German were spoken on the premises. Capitalising on a growing population and an emerging and increasingly prosperous middle class, Auckland's restaurants - and those in other centres - marketed the availability of richly furnished rooms for private and select parties.
Internally, the new structure contained Canning's confectionary shop and a bake house, as well as a café. The street frontage, which incorporated an entrance to a large public dining room behind Canning's confectionary shop, was sheltered by a verandah supported by cast-iron columns. The centrally-located shop entrance had glass display bays on either side. The dining room had a secondary access from St Mungo Lane and was separated from the kitchen in the rear of the building by a ventilated area and skylight. Elsewhere, the establishment provided separate dining and lounge facilities for men and women. The first floor was reached by two separate staircases. At the front were dining and sitting rooms for ladies. A men's dining room was located to the rear. The second floor contained lounges and a smoking-room. There were bathrooms on each floor. The bake house was accommodated in the basement, as were storerooms.
The building was built to the design of the noted Auckland architectural practice Richard Keals and Son. Richard Keals (1817?-1885) had arrived in New Zealand in 1858 to become one of Auckland's earliest trained architects. He had set up practice in the colonial capital by late 1861, initially having worked as a builder. In 1902 the practice laid claim to being the city's oldest firm of architects. Keals' New Zealand Insurance Company Building (1870) was one of the grandest commercial buildings in Victorian Auckland. The South British Insurance Building (1878-9) - now known as Blackett's Building - two doors to the north of St Mungo Café, was also designed by the practice (Record no. 4483, Category I historic place).
The builder was Richard Jenkinson (1834?-1913), who had arrived in Auckland in 1861 and may have been a plasterer by trade. By 1872 he was in a plastering and slating partnership with a Bernard Keane. The partnership - which ended in circa 1882 - branched into construction work, winning a number of prestigious contracts. Projects included construction of John Smith's Queen Street draper shop (1873), a new façade for Crombie's City Club Hotel in Shortland Street (1876) that was notable for its extravagant plasterwork, and the erection of James Williamson's mansion The Pah (Record no. 89, Category I historic place, 1877-9). Their largest undertaking is likely to have been the west wing of the Auckland Mental Asylum (Record no. 96, Category I historic place, 1878-81), work that almost doubled the size of one of the province's largest institutions.
Use as a café (1882-1917)
After its opening, St Mungo Café was reputed to be Auckland's best dining establishment. In 1885, it was the venue of a banquet held by the Mayor of Auckland , William Waddel, to celebrate the construction of the city's new Free Library and Art Gallery (Record no. 92, Category I historic place). It was also a place where community meetings were held. Connected with luxurious consumption, it may have been particularly susceptible to the economic downturn of the late 1880s onwards. By 1892, part of the building had become office accommodation. Following Canning's death in 1897, the café retained his name until circa 1906. By 1912 the dining room was known as the Windsor Luncheon Room, the name it retained until its closure in 1917.
Occupation by J.J. Craig (1906-1969)
By 1906 prominent Auckland industrialist J.J. Craig occupied part of the building. In 1885 Joseph James (J.J.) Craig (1860-1916) had taken over the firm founded as a carrier's business in 1866 by his father Joseph Craig (1803?-1885). By 1900 J.J. Craig was one of Auckland's biggest industrial conglomerates with interests including coastal and trans-Tasman shipping, haulage, brick-making, cement, mining and quarrying. The higher capital needed for acquisition of powerful steamers saw Craig's role as a fleet owner diminish after 1910 to that of a minor shareholder in joint ventures. Freight forwarding, cartage and the extraction and processing of ground-based resources for the construction industry became the mainstay of the business.
Ownership of the building transferred from the Crombie Estate to an entity named the St Mungo Company in 1914.
Following J.J. Craig's death in 1916, the business was taken over by his two brothers, but by 1928 his son James Campbell Craig (1895-1976) was managing director of the family firm. In 1917 the business took out a lease of the Queen Street premises conveniently located close to Auckland's port, customhouse and railway. Architectural plans prepared by May and Morran who had offices in the building saw the relocation of the southernmost entrance to a more central position on the Queen Street frontage and the fitting out of the ground floor for retail use. Alterations made to Craig's offices occupying the first and second storeys included construction of a new staircase on the south wall, timber panelling and installation of a safe on the upper floor. The name Craig's Building in plasterwork on the parapet was probably added at this time, and the verandah replaced.
Following closure of the Windsor Luncheon Room in 1917, the ground floor tenancy was held by a nurseryman, seedsman and florist until 1952. The following year Clayton's crystal, china, napery and Manchester showroom occupied this space, but by 1956 had branched out into home appliance sales. A small tobacconist's bar, established at the front entrance of the building's southern side in circa 1929, remained a tenant into the 1980s.
In 1942, the majority of J.J. Craig shares were bought by a group of businessmen, who subsequently on-sold to Winstone subsidiary, New Zealand Wall Boards Limited. Established as a limited liability company in 1869, Winstone had flourished during the Vogel era in the 1870s to become one of the Auckland region's largest haulage firms and by the 1920s had expanded into stone extraction and other ventures.
Following subdivision of the four-lot holding, in 1951 J.J. Craig Limited purchased the building it had occupied for over four decades. The ground floor was renovated in 1951. In 1957, the firm's offices on the second floor were extended into the adjacent building on the southern side (formerly St Mungo Chambers) via two openings. New access stairs to the basement were provided towards the rear of the ground floor in 1958. In 1962 the basement was fitted out as a coffee bar with a new staircase to Queen Street. In 1965, as arcade shopping enjoyed a revival in the Queen Street valley, the ground floor was divided into ten shops known as the Century Arcade.
In 1969, J.J. Craig Limited was integrated into Winstone Limited bringing to an end the firm's five-decade-plus association with the building that had been its head office. Winstone housed its marketing division on the upper floors of 100 Queen Street until 1979. In the 1980s tenants of the shopping arcade included Magazzino, reputedly New Zealand's first magazine-only store. The building is said to have suffered extensive fire damage in March 1987. The ground floor and basement were refurbished, but the upper storeys remained vacant. An opening was created at ground floor level into the adjoining Media Arcade building on High Street.
In 1994 the property was sold to Britannia Properties and in 1998 transferred to Craig Investments Limited. Conservation work was carried out on the exterior. By this time the building had lost the urns from its parapet. Interior work included strengthening of the beams, walls, floor and ceiling in the basement and ground floor. The ten-shop arcade was reinstated as two retail tenancies. The structure was re-roofed by new owners in 2004.
Craig's Building is located on the east side of the Queen Street gully in the heart of Auckland's Central Business District (CBD). Queen Street, Auckland's main commercial thoroughfare, connects the harbourside and the Karangahape Road ridge. The street has a comparatively large number of late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century buildings, particularly on its east side and in narrow thoroughfares immediately to the east. A number were constructed in the boom years of the late 1890s and first three decades of the twentieth century. Some date to earlier periods. Queen Street and its associated area is notable for reflecting Auckland's development as New Zealand's main financial and commercial centre.
Craig's Building is located within a block bounded by Shortland Street to the north, High Street to the east and Vulcan Lane to the south. This forms part of a significant nineteenth- and early twentieth-century historical and cultural landscape, part of which has been formally recognised for its considerable historical significance and townscape and landmark qualities within the Vulcan Lane historic area (Record no. 7011, historic area).
Craig's Building is a particularly significant element of a group of four mid to late nineteenth-century commercial buildings within this block fronting Queen Street. Above verandah level the window openings, string courses and decorative elements of the structures provide a harmonious rhythm that enlivens the streetscape. The three northernmost structures are all designed in an Italianate architectural style and are of similar age. On the corner is the largest of the group, Blackett's Building (Record no. 4483, Category I historic place), erected in 1878-9 with a fourth storey addition (1910). Craig's Building and its neighbour to the north (94-96 Queen Street) were both built in 1882. On the south side of Craig's Building is a three-storey Georgian-style building (104-106 Queen Street) erected in 1862-3. The latter is a rare contemporary of the 1865 former Bank of New Zealand façade (Record no. 95, Category I historic place) located opposite, on the west side of Queen Street.
Craig's Building occupies a rectangular site of 227 square metres. The brick structure comprises three storeys and a basement. The plastered façade is Victorian Italianate in style and incorporates an unusually high level of ornamentation. At street level are two modern, glass shop fronts sheltered by a modern suspended verandah.
The plastered façade has an ornamental design of a striking quality. On the first storey, fluted pilasters frame the façade, which has two grand aedicule window openings. The semi-circular headed windows have a moulded architrave which incorporates a rope moulding on the outer edge. A triple keystone motif supports a deep, open-bed arched pediment. A string course separates the first and second storeys. The pilasters on either side of the upper storey have incised plaster arabesque work and a double stiff leaf motif on each capital. Two pairs of round headed windows have pilasters with stiff leaf capitals echoing those on the styles of the first storey window openings. The moulded arches above the second storey windows incorporate large vermiculated keystones which support a frieze bearing the plaster lettering 'Craig's Building'. The building's highly moulded parapet has a centrally located gadrooned console with an arched niche.
Exposed sections of the brick side and rear walls, and the parapets have also been plastered. Two plastered chimneys protrude from the parapet of the north party wall. The building has a pair of longitudinally placed hipped roofs separated by a light well. There are sash windows in the eastern half of the north wall and part of the east wall of the building's upper storeys. The roof has recently been re-clad in corrugated metal.
The internal layout of the ground floor and basement levels of Craig's Building has been modified from its original design as a catering establishment, shop and cafe. There is no physical means of access between the ground floor and the two upper floors of the building which are vacant. These are described from images taken in December 2002, November 2003, and March 2004, and from floor plans.
The basement and ground floor levels are divided longitudinally into two discrete tenancies, each with its own internal stair. The linings, fittings and stairs are modern. Each of the two retail tenancies consists of a large space, with modern shop fittings, floors and ceilings that conceal any historical character that may survive.
In the northern tenancy the north basement wall has an opening to a sump. In the basement space, a concrete-encased rock protruding at floor level in a doorway opening at the foot of the stairs appears to be associated with a basalt wall evident in the adjoining southern tenancy. At ground floor level, at the head of the stairway is a small modern office space at the east end of the building. A toilet is located in the corresponding area immediately to the north, to the rear of the retail space.
In the basement of the southern tenancy, an exposed section of the south wall and a dividing wall at the foot of the main stair are built of rough basalt. It is not known whether this is part of the building foundation, or is associated with earlier activity on the rear portion of the site. Within an unlined section of wall at the foot of the stairs is a surviving rectangular pillar of brick. A small opening in the basement ceiling reveals the underside of a modern timber floor. At ground floor level, the southern retail tenancy has modern kitchen and toilet facilities at its east end.
The two vacant upper floors of the building are blocked off and were not able to be inspected. Photographs provided by a representative of the building's owner, and documented floorplans, give some indication of the interior, which retains a greater amount of visible earlier fabric than at lower levels. The building has both two-light and six-light sash windows in the east and north walls. There are also window openings to the light well.
Floor plans (2002) suggest that the western end of the building's first floor is largely open plan. Against the south wall is a staircase with timber handrail and remnants of wainscote panelling. The stairs link the first and second floors and appear to be part of alterations made in 1917. The remainder of the first floor and the second floor have partition walls, some of which contain glazing.
Timber panelling in the two front offices on the second floor appears to differ in style, suggesting installation at different dates. Timber match-linings in the east end of the building and some other mouldings may date from 1917 or earlier. Suspended ceilings have been installed in some spaces, but photographs suggest that old timber board and batten ceilings may survive above.
Within the eastern end of the building on each of the two upper floors is a kitchen bench unit and lavatory facilities. In the northeast corner on the third floor is a large metal safe, installed in 1917. Shelving and cupboards survive in some areas. Lettering above one pair of doors identifies an area previously occupied by the Shipping Department, presumably during J.J. Craig Limited's tenure.
Craig's Building appears to be one of few known surviving examples of premises designed as a nineteenth century café or restaurant. Jamieson's Restaurant, 206-210 Great North Road, Winton, dates to 1894 and is a two storey brick building designed with a restaurant and bakery on the ground floor and residential accommodation above. Collins' Bakery Complex (Former) in Kaikoura (Record no. 1456, Category II historic place) was erected in circa 1905 with a bake house, a confectionary shop and tea rooms. Other tea rooms and tea houses are known from the early twentieth century, including those at Riccarton Racecourse (1903; Record no. 5330, Category II historic place), Te Aroha Domain (1908; Record no. 760, Category II historic place) and Auckland Domain (1913; Record no.2648, Category II historic place). A restaurant in the basement of the Strand Arcade in Queen Street (1899-1900 and largely rebuilt in 1909) was reputedly New Zealand's largest such establishment (Record no. 123, Category I historic place). A considerably larger number of nineteenth-century hotels survive that contained dining facilities.
Comparatively few designs by the firm of Richard Keals and Son appear to have been so far been recognised through registration. They include Blackett's Building (1878-9; Record no. 4483, Category I historic place) and modifications to the Queen's Ferry Hotel (1871 additions; Record no. 630, Category I historic place) and the Fitzroy Hotel (1874 modifications; Record no. 7582, Category I historic place). Other known surviving buildings in Auckland that were designed by Keals include the former Gilfillans Store (1865), also in Queen Street, and the Masonic Hotel in Devonport (1866). Craig's Building is a relatively well-preserved example of the Keals' work and unlike Blackett's Building (1878-9), the best known surviving commercial work by the practice, it retains its ornate parapet and has not been altered by the addition of a further storey.
Three-storey brick building with basement constructed
Relocation of main entrance to ground floor, repartitioning of first and second floor to provide new office layout
installation of oak panelling; removal of two staircases, construction of staircase between first and second floors
Floor replaced, roof repaired and skylight removed
Access stairs installed between ground floor and basement
Basement refitted to accommodate new coffee bar; new access stairs from basement to Queen Street
Conversion of ground floor into shopping arcade
Repair work and refurbishment of basement and ground floors following fire damage
Strengthening of basement and ground floor; ground floor arcade reinstated as two retail spaces
Timber flooring, plastered brick walls, timber roof framing, corrugated metal roof
23rd March 2010
Report Written By
Martin Jones, Joan McKenzie and Lucy Mackintosh
T. Hodgson, The Heart of Colonial Auckland 1865-1910, Random Century NZ Ltd, Auckland 1992
Priscilla Boniface, Hotels and Restaurants: 1830 to the Present Day, London, 1981
Jane Pettigrew, The Social History of Tea, London, 2001
E. Vaile, Some Interesting Occurrences in Early Auckland: City and Provinces, Christchurch, 1955
A fully referenced registration report is available from the NZHPT Northern Region Office
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.