Masonic Hotel Historic Area

Gladstone Road And Lowe Street, Gisborne

  • Masonic Hotel Historic Area.
    Copyright: NZ Historic Places Trust.
  • Masonic Hotel Historic Area.
    Copyright: NZ Historic Places Trust.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Area Public Access Private/No Public Access
List Number 7018 Date Entered 28th April 1995


Extent of List Entry

Includes Christies Building, 71 Lowe Street; Masonic Hotel; Ritchie Real Estate (fomerly Macardo's Gallery); Muir's Bookshop (formerly Eastern and Central Bank); Gisborne Herald Building.

City/District Council

Gisborne District


Gisborne Region


In 1868 the Government purchased 741 acres of land for the town site of Gisborne which was surveyed into sections two years later. Settlement had begun in the area with Captain Read who, in 1852, was invited by local Maori chiefs to establish a trading store. For thirty years this enterprising pioneer shaped and influenced the development of Poverty Bay, establishing Gisborne's first hotel (the Albion) and the courthouse as well as introducing his own early currency system involving £1 notes that only he could cash. At the time of his death in 1878 it was estimated that he had created three quarters of the town's business property.

From the early 1870's through to WWI Gisborne flourished due to the trade generated by a farming boom. Original timber buildings were replaced with masonry structures in the early decades of this century reflecting the town's confidence in the future. The majority of the buildings within the Peel St/Gladstone area are former banks or commercial premises that have had a variety of uses over the years and are significant for their streetscape value.

The Masonic is an early hotel in the area that has been rebuilt several times. The site of the first Masonic Hotel fetched the highest price of £51 when the first Gisborne sections were auctioned in 1870. As Gisborne's most prestigious hotel it provided the "Royal Suite" for the 1954 tour. Another significant building is the Gisborne Herald's offices which have been in Gladstone Rd since the paper was established in 1915. Crowds often gathered outside the Herald on election night to watch election results being posted up across the windows and proclaimed from the balcony.

Assessment criteriaopen/close

Historical Significance or Value

The Gladstone Rd area has continued to be the business centre of Gisborne since Captain Read's settlement in the 1870's. The remaining examples of commercial property erected c.1910 are a reminder of the town's prosperity in the early decades of this century.


This group of well maintained buildings of similar design, age and scale form attractive, uninterrupted streetscape along one of Gisborne's main roads.


Four of the five buildings within the area are the work of Gisborne architects Burr & Mirfield (established 1912) who designed a large number of buildings within Gisborne's central business area. The buildings within the area are of a similar age and are compatible in terms of scale and design. The survival of these Stripped Classical buildings (unreinforced masonry) constructed pre-1930 is significant because so many within the Hawkes Bay area were lost in the Napier earthquake.


The mix of old and new commercial architecture within this historic business area reflects the changes in Gisborne over the last seventy years. Hotels such as the Masonic have played a major role in the town's social activities and development. They have served the local community as venues and gathering places since the 1870's despite considerable changes in lifestyle.


The Masonic Hotel area is significant as a piece of well preserved early twentieth century townscape. The area also has interesting historical links dating back to the early settlement and commercial development of Gisborne.


Additional informationopen/close

Construction Dates

Additional building added to site
1890 -
First section of the Masonic Hotel constructed.

Additional building added to site
1906 -
Muir's Bookshop constructed.

Additional building added to site
1915 -
Gisborne Herald Building constructed.

1915 -
Second section of the Masonic Hotel constructed.

1928 -
Third section of the Masonic Hotel constructed.

Additional building added to site
1929 -
Ritchie's Real Estate (Macardo's Gallery) constructed

Additional building added to site
1929 -
Christie's Chambers constructed

Information Sources

Gisborne Herald

14 Dec 2012

December 1959

Wises Post Office Directories

Wises Post Office Directories


Robinson, 1990

Sheila Robinson and John Berry (eds.), Gisborne Exposed: The Photographs of William Crawford 1874-1913, Gisborne, 1990

Historic Places in New Zealand

Historic Places in New Zealand

'George Read - the Forgotten Father of Gisborne' , June, 1987

Other Information

A copy of the original 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.

Historic Area Place Name

Christie's Chambers
Gisborne Herald Building
Masonic Hotel (Former)
Muir's Bookshop
Ritchie's Real Estate (formerly Macardo's Gallery)