10 Bankside Street, Auckland

  • Cottage.
    Copyright: NZ Historic Places Trust. Taken By: Martin Jones.
  • .
    Copyright: NZ Historic Places Trust. Taken By: Martin Jones.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 2 Public Access Private/No Public Access
List Number 4486 Date Entered 30th June 2006


Extent of List Entry

Extent of registration includes all of the land in CT NA752/290 (as shown on Map B in Appendix 4 of the Registration Report) and the building, its fittings and fixtures thereon.

City/District Council

Auckland Council (Auckland City Council)


Auckland Council

Legal description

Pt Allot 16 Sec 4 Town of Auckland (CT NA752/290), North Auckland Land District


The cottage at 10 Bankside Street is one of Auckland earliest surviving concrete dwellings and a rare surviving example of modest residential housing in the core of the colonial city. Constructed in 1883-1884, the building was erected beside a narrow thoroughfare initially known as Bank Street (later Bankside Street), which was a service lane to Princes Street, one of colonial Auckland's premier addresses. The Princes Street ridge had traditionally been linked to activities connected with the administration of government, justice and military power, but had become increasingly residential by the 1880s. The cottage was erected on the western slope of the ridge, in an area of largely working-class housing extending down to the commercial heartland of Auckland in the Queen Street gully. At the time that the cottage was constructed, Bankside Street contained mostly small timber residences, occupied by a mixture of individuals including a chimney sweep, the manager and washerwoman of the nearby Northern Club, and the caretaker of the Freemasons' Hall, both establishments that fronted onto Princes Street.

As part of the core of initial settlement, the land occupied by the cottage was bought at the first land auction in Auckland, held on 19 April 1841. It was purchased by George Cooper (?-1867), New Zealand's first Collector of Customs, Colonial Treasurer and Acting Colonial Secretary. Cooper's 1492² m (1 rood 19 perches) section was subsequently divided into two lots prior to 1844, with that adjoining Bankside Street further subdivided into three and onsold by settler Charles Goodwin before 1847. The central lot was bought by merchant Henry Keesing (1791-1879), first president of Auckland's Hebrew congregation in nearby Emily Place, who may have erected a timber cottage on the land between 1854 and 1861. Following Keesing's death in 1879, the plot was purchased by Frederick William Wright (1825-1908), a medical practitioner of Parnell, who in turn divided the already tiny holding in half, thereby creating the current 152m² site on which the concrete cottage was built. In October 1883 Wright sold the property for ₤160 to an Irish-born settler John Mulvihill (c.1846-1911) who had recently migrated from Boston, USA, with his wife Mary (c.1858-1924).

Construction of the cottage appears to have occurred shortly before January 1884, when valuation records show Mulvihill as the owner and occupier of a concrete building with a rateable value of ₤18, a considerable increase on the ₤8 charged for the vacant allotment that was in Dr Wright's ownership the year before. Confirmation that the site was previously vacant comes from Vercoe and Harding's 1866 plan of Auckland, and T.W. Hickson's plan of the settlement prepared in 1882. By January 1885, the cottage's rateable value had increased to ₤30, at a time when timber houses in the street were rated at ₤12 to ₤15. Dr Wright has previously been credited with constructing the building, but it may be that the structure was started in 1883 either by Wright or Mulvihill, with further improvements carried out during Mulvihill's ownership in 1884. The dwelling is shown on a plan surveyed in 1887, where it is mistakenly identified as a 'brick cottage'.

Comparatively few concrete structures had previously been erected in Auckland, with rare examples including a crenellated tower for the entrepreneur Josiah Firth (1826-1897) at Clifton House, Epsom in 1871-1873 and the former Congregational Church in Beresford Street in 1874-1876. During the early 1880s, however, the production of hydraulic lime by John Wilson and Company at Mahurangi to the north of Auckland, stimulated the construction of several concrete buildings in the city, including Firths Mill in Queen Street and several small dwellings, such as that erected for John Wilson himself at 63 Ponsonby Road. The new Jewish Synagogue on the corner of Princes Street and Kitchener Road was also built of hydraulic lime concrete in 1884-1885, just a short distance away from the cottage. In contrast, the foundations and walls of the latter are reported as having been made using Portland cement, which may have been imported from England as local cement of this type was not produced by John Wilson and Company until 1884.

The cottage incorporated a hall and four rooms, probably used as a parlour, front bedroom, back bedroom and kitchen. Well into the early twentieth century, night soil would have been collected from an outside toilet. With two children born by 1884, the Mulvihill family had expanded to seven by 1889 with the birth of three more offspring. Although described as a 'settler' in the mid 1880s Mulvihill later took jobs as a labourer, perhaps as a result of the economic depression that took hold late in 1885, shortly after the construction of his residence. Employed by the Auckland City Council, Mulvihill died in 1911 following an industrial accident in which he was overcome by fumes and flames when melting tar. Mary - who appears to have been illiterate - subsequently married labourer George Hannaford in 1916, and lived in the cottage until her death in 1924.

Following Mary's death the cottage was rented out for a decade prior to its sale to Hancock & Co. towards the end of 1938. Hancock, a company with extensive liquor trade interests, used the cottage to accommodate staff from Auckland's premier hotel, The Grand, which had been built in 1889 in Princes Street between the Northern Club and the Freemasons' Hall. Modifications at this time probably included the addition of an attached toilet at the rear of the cottage. In 1966, the cottage was sold and became a student flat, when an additional lean-to bedroom was added.

Following an uncertain period, during which the owner unsuccessfully appealed against the proposed listing of the cottage as a heritage building in the District Plan and was later refused planning consent to demolish, Auckland City Council purchased the building in 1984. This occurred after a campaign by members of the public to save the building. The property was onsold with an encumbrance requiring that the property owner should not allow the cottage to fall into disrepair, or demolish or remove it. The cottage was incorporated into a redevelopment of the wider site in 1988 on which a multi-storey tower block was constructed, at which time the post-1966 lean-to bedroom at the rear of the property was removed. The cottage's subsequent conversion into a pre-school facility involved the insertion of windows and doors in its northern and eastern walls, and additional partitioning in the interior. Further alterations were made in 1996, including the replacement of a corrugated iron roof with shingles. The cottage is currently vacant.

The building remains as one of few workers' cottages surviving in the Auckland CBD, the other notable example being the semi-detached stone cottages at 30-32 Airedale Street dating at least from the early 1860s (NZHPT Registration # 7089, Category I historic place). The oldest extant concrete house in New Zealand is considered to be that built in 1862 by John Gow near Mosgiel.

Assessment criteriaopen/close

Historical Significance or Value

The cottage is historically valuable for its associations with working-class residential activity in colonial Auckland, and notably in the traditional core of such settlement between Auckland's main administrative and commercial centres in Princes Street/Waterloo Quadrant and Queen Street.

The cottage at 10 Bankside Street has aesthetic significance for the simplicity of its design and for the visual interest and contrast it provides in relation to the modern multi-storey buildings that surround it. The building has architectural significance as a very early surviving example of small-scale concrete housing in central Auckland.

The building has technological significance for its early concrete construction, showing evidence of specialised building techniques and materials from a period when such construction was rare.

(a) The extent to which the place reflects important or representative aspects of New Zealand history

The Bankside Street cottage illustrates the growing intensification of urban settlement in later colonial Auckland, and is an example of housing occupied by those of limited means in the nineteenth- and early twentieth-century inner city.

(f) The community association with, or public esteem for, the place

Public esteem for the place is indicated by a campaign to save the building from destruction in

the 1980s, and Auckland City Council's subsequent purchase of the property which was then on-sold with an encumbrance on the title.

(g) The technical accomplishment or value, or design of the place

The building is of technical value as an early surviving structure constructed of scoria concrete.

(j) The importance of identifying rare types of historic places

The cottage is a rare surviving example of an early concrete residential building in Auckland.

(k) The extent to which the place forms part of a wider historical and cultural complex or historical and cultural landscape

The place is a significant part of an important historical landscape in the Princes Street/Waterloo Quadrant area. This landscape encompasses significant places illustrative of the development of colonial Auckland, including a remnant of the Albert Barracks Wall; the former Government House; the former Supreme Court; the Northern Club; the former Synagogue; St Andrews Church; Albert Park with its park-keeper's cottage, band rotunda and statues; and the Freemasons' Hall and the Grand Hotel facades. The landscape also includes several large residences, collectively known as former Merchants' Houses. The cottage at Bankside Street is a rare remnant of modest colonial housing within this landscape.


Additional informationopen/close

Physical Description

The cottage is located in the heart of colonial Auckland, on a steep slope overlooking the Queen Street gully. It lies midway along the eastern side of Bankside Street, a short narrow thoroughfare running parallel to the grander Princes Street and between Shortland Street and Kitchener Street. Although now dominated by high-rise offices, the Princes Street/Bankside Street block contains other historic structures, notably the Northern Club (NZHPT Registration # 663, Category I historic place) and remnant facades of the Grand Hotel (NZHPT Registration # 576, Category II historic place) and Freemasons Hall. Further south and east, important colonial structures and landscapes survive in the Waterloo Quadrant/Princes Street area, including a remnant of the Albert Barracks Wall (NZHPT Registration # 12, Category I historic place); the former Government House (NZHPT Registration # 105, Category I historic place); the former Supreme Court (now the High Court, NZHPT Registration # 17, Category I historic place); the former Synagogue (NZHPT Registration # 578, Category I historic place); St Andrew's Church (NZHPT Registration # 20, Category I historic place); Albert Park with its lodge (NZHPT Registration # 577, Category II historic place), band rotunda (NZHPT Registration # 538, Category II historic place) and statues (Sir George Grey Statue, NZHPT Registration # 119, Category I historic place; Queen Victoria Statue, NZHPT Registration # 633, Category II historic place); and several large residences collectively known as former Merchants' Houses.

The cottage occupies the western part of a rectangular 152m² site, which also incorporates a small backyard. The site is part of a larger landholding known as 9 Princes Street on which a modern tower block has been built. The latter encompasses the facades of the former Grand Hotel and Freemasons' Hall on Princes Street. Constructed on the uphill side of Bankside Street, the cottage is elevated above the carriageway, with a small flat yard at the rear now covered with impermeable materials. Access to the front door is via a narrow flight of worn concrete steps from the street to a full-length verandah with a concrete floor and wrought iron balustrades. Pedestrian access to the rear is by a set of more recent steps, which adjoin the property's northern boundary.

The single-storey cottage is Georgian in appearance, having a symmetrical frontage containing a central front door and flanking windows, and a gabled roof. It is double-box in design, with a square groundplan and small rearward extension on its southern side. Constructed of scoria concrete with aggregate up to 50mm in diameter, its exterior walls are approximately 300mm thick, while its internal walls measure 150mm across. All wall surfaces have been plastered with a lime mortar except in the roof space, where the outline of timber formwork made up of 300mm-wide boards is visible. The timber frame roof - originally clad with corrugated iron - has latterly been clad with shingles. The front verandah has been heavily restored, while a rear verandah incorporates a large amount of new timber, and may be largely or entirely new. A small storage room, previously a toilet, is attached to the rear of the building on its southern side, together with a newer lean-to structure with double doors, also used for storage.

Internally, the cottage contains a central half-hallway, with a former parlour and front bedroom leading respectively from its northern and southern sides. The eastern end of the hall leads into a larger space at the back of the building, originally used as the kitchen. A rear room leading off the kitchen to the south was probably a second bedroom but has been modified to incorporate service rooms - a staff room, toilets, changing room, shower and kitchen - to facilitate the building's recent re-use as a pre-school facility. The former parlour and kitchen on the northern side of the building each contain double-hung sash windows, and fireplaces incorporating inserted fireplace surrounds. French doors have also been recently installed in the former kitchen, while a rear door opposite the front door to the hall provides the original access into the rear yard. A small lean-to at the rear accessed from the yard contains a tiled floor. Previously an outside lavatory, its toilet has been removed.

Construction Dates

Original Construction
1883 - 1884

Timber verandah posts replaced with metal supports and balustrade; Stained-glass window and wall respectively removed from north and south ends of front verandah; External bathroom added;

Toilet built in south end of back verandah

Bedroom added to exterior bathroom

1974 -
Coal range removed, brick chimney breast exposed

1988 -
Redevelopment as part of site known as 9 Princes Street; external bathroom and bedroom addition demolished; toilet removed

1989 - 1990
Two double-hung sash windows added in north wall; Two rooms (south side) partitioned and fitted out as service rooms for pre- school facility; Window onto rear verandah replaced by French-doors with fanlight

1996 -
New registers and kauri surrounds added to fireplace; some doors, architraves, skirtings and scotias replaced; Corrugated iron roof replaced by shingles; copper spouting added; ceilings replaced?

Construction Details

Concrete foundations; concrete walls; shingle roof

Information Sources

Auckland Public Libraries

Auckland Public Libraries

'Plan of Auckland', by J. Vercoe and E. J. Harding, September 1866, D995.11 gmbs 1866

'Plan of Auckland 1882', by T.W. Hickson, D995.11 gmbs 1882

Auckland Star

Auckland Star

6 November 1911, p.3(7)

Auckland Waikato Historical Society Journal

Auckland Waikato Historical Society Journal

Goddison, Jean H., 'Two early medical practitioners', September 1997, No. 70, pp.19-22

Dictionary of New Zealand Biography

Dictionary of New Zealand Biography

Agnew A. and Agnew R., 'Keesing, Henry 1791 - 1879', updated 7 July 2005, URL:

McGill, 1991

David McGill, The Guardians at the Gate: The History of the New Zealand Customs Department, Wellington, Silver Owl Press for the New Zealand Customs Dept., 1991

Stacpoole, 1994

John Stacpoole, The Northern Club 1869-1994, Auckland, 1994

Thornton, 1996

Geoffrey Thornton, Cast in Concrete: Concrete Construction in New Zealand 1850-1939, Auckland, 1996



11 April 1974, pp.55-58

Auckland City Council

Auckland City Council

City of Auckland Valuation Rolls East Ward 1880-1885, ACC 210/20, folio 37; ACC 210/26, folio 39; ACC 210/32, folio 40; ACC 210/38, folio 41; ACC 210/50, folio 40; and ACC 210/60, folio 43

Property File 9 Princes Street and 1 Bankside Street (Heritage Division of the Auckland City Council).

Other Information

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.