Renton Hardware Building
21 Hamilton Street And Tancred Street, Hokitika
List Entry Information
List Entry Status
List Entry Type
Historic Place Category 2
Private/No Public Access
21st September 1989
Extent of List Entry
Extent includes the land described as Secs 292, 294, 296 (CT WS2C/373) and part Legal Road, Westland Land District and the structure known as Renton Hardware Building thereon. Refer to the extent map tabled at the Heritage New Zealand Board meeting on 30 April 2015.
West Coast Region
Secs 292, 294, 296 (CT WS2C/373) and part Legal Road, Westland Land District
Renton Hardware Building, constructed in 1907-8 on a prominent corner site in Hokitika’s central business district, has historical significance for its long record as a family business of importers and merchants that goes back to early days in the town’s establishment. It tells the story of the importance of such stores supplying hardware products to communities.
Scottish brothers, James and Robert Renton arrived in the recently formed township of Hokitika in 1866 and were involved in both gold mining and blacksmithing. After Robert’s death in 1874, James Renton carried on the blacksmithing business, establishing J Renton & Co Blacksmiths in late 1874. James Renton purchased an existing hotel on the corner of Tancred and Hamilton Streets in Hokitika - the upper storey was used as living quarters for his growing family and the downstairs was converted for his business. Renton and Co grew to become a firm of Ironmongers, Importers and General Merchants. In 1897 James Renton transferred ownership of the business to six of his sons (Robert, Paul, James, Edmund, David and Arthur) and the firm became known as Renton Brothers, though James Renton senior remained as manager. By 1898 the business had expanded enough for the firm to have bought several more neighbouring properties. The main building was still used as a shop where general ironmongery, earthenware, glassware, cutlery, saddlery and harnesses were sold. In the early 1900s James Renton and family shifted into a new house on East Gibson Quay, the old corner shop was demolished and tenders were let for a new building on the site. Stevenson and McMillan, a firm of Hokitika builders, won the tender, and construction of the Renton Hardware building took place between mid 1907and early 1908.
Constructed of plastered brick and concrete, the Renton Hardware Building is a two-storeyed simple classical style structure with a rectangular floor plan. Much of the ground floor of the north elevation is a glazed shop front and entrance, and is covered by a plain flat roofed verandah that sits above the footpath. Above, on the first floor, and on both floors of the west elevation, are round headed sash windows and a parapet with recessed architectural detailing. The south elevation is void of architectural detailing or fenestration.
The 1907-8 building incorporated both a shop and warehouse. The type of products it dealt in expanded to include agricultural machinery, petrol, cement supplies, wallpaper and they even made up mattresses on site. In 1945 the firm became the Renton Hardware Co Ltd, after the retirement of Robert and Paul Renton, and, under the management of Paul’s son, became the agents for a new type of machinery, the chainsaw. The firm has been a strong employer in the community and continues much the same function as when the company was first established, supplying a range of goods such as building supplies, bathroom requirements, fine China and glassware and garden supplies. Descendants of James Renton still own the building and its exterior appearance is much the same as when first built over 100 years ago.
17th February 2015
Report Written By
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 Regional Office of Heritage New Zealand.