Arthur Eady Building (Former)

112-116 Queen Street And 4 Vulcan Lane, Auckland

  • Arthur Eady Building (Former).
    Copyright: NZ Historic Places Trust. Taken By: Martin Jones. Date: 6/11/2009.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 2 Public Access Private/No Public Access
List Number 4592 Date Entered 10th September 1987


Extent of List Entry

Extent includes the land described as DP 10760 (CT NA273/222), North Auckland Land District, and the building known as Arthur Eady Building (Former) thereon.

City/District Council

Auckland Council (Auckland City Council)


Auckland Council

Legal description

DP 10760 (CT NA273/222), North Auckland Land District


Regarded as ultra-modern when it opened in the commercial heart of Auckland in 1939, the five-storey Arthur Eady Building was designed by the well-known local architectural practice of Chilwell and Tevithick following amalgamation of New Zealand’s two largest music businesses. Occupying a landmark site at the corner of Vulcan Lane and Queen Street, the concrete and steel-framed premises were purpose-built for Dunedin-based Charles Begg and Company. The building is notable for its three-dimensional character and simple symmetrical lines emphasised by horizontal bands of metal-framed windows maximising natural light and ventilation. Fabricated with potential for four additional storeys, the Inter-War Functionalist design strongly influenced the later New Zealand Shipping Company Building in Quay Street designed in 1945 by the same architects. Along with the technically advanced Dingwall Building (1934) and Post-War International-style AMP Building (1958-62), the Arthur Eady Building illustrates aspects of modernism including the greater use of glass as a construction material, and intensification of commercial development in Auckland’s main street over two-and-a-half decades from the mid-1930s. The Inter-War Functionalist style with connotations of modernity, utility and disassociation with styles of the past was well suited to Begg’s as retailers of labour-saving electrical household appliances.

Prior to European arrival, successive iwi and hapu groups occupied Horotiu, which included the present-day Queen Street gully. Shortly after the establishment of Auckland as colonial capital in 1840, the Crown granted Allotment 3 to William Mason, auctioneer, who subdivided the holding shortly after. Early Auckland buildings on the site included the offices of the Daily Southern Cross newspaper. Timber merchant Daniel Lynch bought the property in 1853 on which a two-storey brick building was erected. In 1884, music seller Arthur Eady became the lessor, buying the building in 1914. Following his death in 1929, Eady’s estate redeveloped the site after the business was bought by Dunedin-based Charles Begg and Company Limited.

Begg’s negotiated a ten-year lease for new purpose-built premises to be erected. The Musical and Electrical Centre was designed by architects Chilwell and Tevithick and constructed by W.H. Whittaker Limited. The Arthur Eady Building described at the time of construction as essentially modern, involved what was claimed to be the largest external use of structural glass in New Zealand prior to that time. Spandrel panels were of a material generally marketed as Vitrolite. The three-dimensional character of the corner-site design was enhanced by a rear lane adjoining a third boundary. The structure projecting Begg’s image as a progressive and dynamic commercial organisation, incorporated a ground floor mezzanine and upper floors notable for their utility and modernity, which were accessed via a lift and a curving staircase. Office partitions were of plate glass for even distribution of light. The Queen Street retail outlet specialised in the traditional mainstays - sheet music and musical instruments; music recordings, gramophones and radios; and an expanding range of labour-saving electrical appliances which Begg’s assembled or held agencies for in a climate of government import restrictions and import substitution policies. While electrical appliances had become more common in the homes of the well-to-do in the 1930s, it was not until the 1940s and 1950s that they became more widespread.

Begg’s failed in their 1955 bid to buy their distinctive, purpose-built premises and relocated in 1960. In 1956, new owners Monteil Buildings Limited enclosed the stairs and filled-in the mezzanine. Known as the Prudential Building for many decades from 1960, the property survived a proposed public open space designation and was unit-titled in 2001.


Construction Professionalsopen/close

Chilwell and Trevithick

No biography is currently available for this construction professional

W.H. Whittaker and Company

No biography is currently available for this construction professional

Additional informationopen/close

Construction Dates

Original Construction
1939 -
Five-storey concrete structure with steel frame.

1956 -
Stairs and floor well [mezzanine] enclosed.

1960 -
Stair constructed to basement.

1961 -
Strong-room constructed (third floor).

Fire protection and egress upgrading.

1998 -
Lobby upgraded, including new doors.

2001 -
Unit titles created.

Completion Date

3rd June 2015

Report Written By

Joan McKenzie

Information Sources

Auckland Star

Auckland Star

Auckland Star, 17 Jan 1914, p.9

New Zealand Herald

New Zealand Herald, 12 July 1932, p. 6; 28 September 1933, p. 6.

New Zealand Herald: 12 Jul 1938, p.11; 15 Jul 1938, p.15; 13 Oct 1939, p.9; 19 Oct 1939, p.15.

Gleeson, 2012

Gleeson, Clare, Meet Me at Begg’s: The Store of Charles Begg & Co, Music and Applicant Manufacturers and Retailers, 1861-1970, Wellington, 2012

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 Northern Region Office of Heritage New Zealand