Plummer House (Former)
5 City Road, Auckland
List Entry Information
List Entry Status
List Entry Type
Historic Place Category 2
Private/No Public Access
26th November 1981
Extent of List Entry
Extent includes part of the land described as Lot 2 DP 200351 (CT NA130D/507), Unit AB DP 202325 (CT 282328), North Auckland Land District, and the building known as Plummer House (Former) thereon. Refer to the extent map tabled at the Heritage New Zealand Board meeting on 25 June 2015.
Auckland Council (Auckland City Council)
Lot 2 DP 200351 (CT NA130D/507), Unit AB DP 202325 (CT 282328), North Auckland Land District
Built in City Road in 1908-9 for Auckland hat manufacturer Charles Plummer, the former family home of Arts-and-Crafts design by the noted Auckland architect John Currie has aesthetic and architectural value for its asymmetrical external form, monochromatic brickwork, and visual appeal as seen from Symonds Street a major Auckland thoroughfare. The place has historical significance for its strong association with businessman and accomplished musician Charles Plummer who was actively involved in significant cultural institutions in Auckland. One of few surviving early twentieth-century residences in the Symonds Street locality, the building known as Number 5 since 1977 is a well-established Auckland restaurant venue.
Prior to European arrival, successive iwi and hapu groups occupied Horotiu, present-day Queen Street gully. To the south of the property was Te Iringaorauru, the site of an incident regarded as a possible contributory cause of Ngati Whatua’s later conquest of the Auckland isthmus. Following establishment of the colonial capital and Karangahape Road in the 1840s, portions of allotments 13 and 14 were bought by building contractor Allan McGuire in 1879. In May 1908, Auckland Charles Plummer (1869-1944) purchased the property promoted as one of the finest positions in the city for a merchant’s residence. Charles was the son of an early Nonconformist settler who took up land at Albertland before founding Auckland’s only straw hat manufacturing business in 1876.
The two-storey brick house with basement and Marseille-tile roof was constructed in 1908-9 by Auckland building contractor William Ernest Trevarthen, to a design by John Currie (c.1849-1921) a noted Auckland architect responsible for a number of significant mercantile warehouses in the city. The dwelling reflected Arts and Crafts influences favoured by many well-to-do New Zealanders of the Edwardian era. The recessed porch opened into a sizable reception hall off which were north-facing rooms (drawing, and dining); and a cloakroom leading to a kitchen with separate scullery and store. Upstairs were five bedrooms.
The Plummers were active in local social and cultural circles. Charles was president of the Auckland Choral Society and Chairman of the Operatic Society. Clara (1873-1943) the eldest daughter of former Auckland Mayor and Member of the House of Representatives William Crowther (1834-1900) was president of the Auckland Grammar School Old Girls Association. The Plummer Hat Company incorporated in 1919, produced Ladies’ millinery exclusively for Macky, Logan, Caldwell (MLC) one of New Zealand’s largest manufacturing and wholesaling companies. Although the Rutland Street factory employing 70 burnt down in 1930, the venture survived MLC’s collapse in the Great Depression.
Dentist George Burtenshaw bought in 1944, converting the house into three flats. The arches of the upper porch were glazed, and arcading designed by Auckland architect Robert Young added to the west elevation. The house became professional consulting rooms soon after, with an increasingly broad range of commercial tenants in the 1960s and 1970s preceding conversion of the lower two floors to restaurant use in 1977. The first floor became what is said to have been New Zealand’s only photographic dealer gallery. The property was incorporated into an extensive commercial office tower development in 1986-7. A unit title was issued for the former Plummer House which by then included a single-storey extension to the rear.
John Currie (c.1859-1921) was born in Ireland. He immigrated to New Zealand in 1874 and practised architecture in Auckland on his own account. In 1879 the firm of L.D. Nathan became a major client. Accordingly much of Currie's work was in the designing of commercial and warehouse buildings. Few of these survive with the exception of L.D. Nathan & Co. Bond Store (now Archilles House, 1902) and P. Hayman's Warehouse (now Sofrana House, 1899-1900).
Currie also designed buildings for Moss Davis, the Auckland brewer. The two best known works from this association were the Rob Roy Tavern, Freeman's Bay (1884), and the restoration of the interior of the Grand Hotel in Princes Street after fire in 1901. The latter building was designed by H.D. Skinner in 1879, although is sometimes erroneously attributed to Currie. In addition to hotels and commercial work, Currie also undertook residential commissions. The best known of these is "Wickford" in Princes Street. Originally the home of Mr N.A. Nathan, it now accommodates the Registry Office of the University of Auckland. Currie was one of the original members of the New Zealand Institute of Architects formed in 1905.
Currie died in Ponsonby in 1921 aged 70.
William Ernest Trevarthen
No biography is currently available for this construction professional
Conversion into three separate units
Arcade (first floor); garage
Professional rooms; and later commercial offices
Conversion to restaurant.
Arcade enclosed; two front windows bricked in
Site amalgamation; garage demolished; Office tower constructed.
Café / Dining (single-storey, north elevation).
1st May 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 Northern Region Office of Heritage New Zealand