Customs Street Historic Area

Customs Street East, Auckland

  • Customs Street Historic Area. Plan of Historic Area from registration report..
    Copyright: NZ Historic Places Trust. Date: 16/12/1994.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Area Public Access Able to Visit
List Number 7160 Date Entered 16th December 1994

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Extent of List Entry

Buildings along both sides of Customs St East, and into Britomart place & Fort St. Buildings include 10, 14-18, 20, 22, 26-28, 30, 34, 36-38, 40-46, 47, 48, 50, 54, 55, 57, 69, 79, 85, 87, 89 Customs St East; 2 Britomart Place; 89 Fort St.. The area extends continuously along the northern side of Customs Street East from numbers 10 to 54 (inclusive) and includes number 2 Britomart Place. With the exception of numbers 20, 26-28, 30 and 34, these buildings extend back to Galway Street, a narrow lane which runs parallel to Customs Street from Queen Elizabeth Square to Britomart Place. Commerce and Gore Streets divide the northern side of the street into three blocks. On the opposite (souther) side of the street, buildings have frontage to 47, 55, 57, 69, and 79 to 89 Customs Street East; and 89 Fort Street.

City/District Council

Auckland Council (Auckland City Council)

Region

Auckland Council

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This historic area was registered under the Historic Places Act 1993. The following text is from the original Recommendation for Registration report considered by the NZHPT Board at the time of registration.

GENERAL DESCRIPTION:

The development of Customs St was anticipated as part of the reclamation of Commercial Bay in the plan of Auckland prepared by the Surveyor General, Felton Mathew, in 1841. The name Customhouse St, given by Mathew, had changed to Customs St by 1885. The foundation for the eventual importance of Customs St East as a commercial thoroughfare was laid with the removal of Point Britomart as part of a reclamation undertaken between 1879 and 1886. This facilitated better access and by 1903 Customs St was acknowledged as one of Auckland's most important commercial streets.

The warehouses and stores erected in Customs St to provide storage, distribution and export-import of goods served a variety of businesses.

Proximity to Queen St (Auckland's main street and principal shopping thoroughfare) enhanced the servicing of retail establishments and heightened

the profile of general and fancy goods merchants and brand products. Nearby, the railway station was of major importance in the distribution of these goods. The majority of the buildings within the Customs St area have their origins in the economic boom of the early 1880s or the economic revival of the late 1890's following an intervening depression.

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Historical Significance or Value

This historic area was registered under the Historic Places Act 1993. The following text is from the original Recommendation for Registration report considered by the NZHPT Board at the time of registration.

Historical:

The importance of the waterfront in the nineteenth and early twentieth century as the city's point of commercial contact with the rest of the colony and the world is reflected in the warehouse buildings which survive from the period.

This large group of warehouses with their impressive facades represent

Auckland's growth in harbour trade and increased prosperity at the turn of the century.

This historic area was registered under the Historic Places Act 1993. The following text is from the original Recommendation for Registration report considered by the NZHPT Board at the time of registration.

Architectural:

Buildings on the northern side of Customs St East may be generally described as a group of multi-storeyed merchants' warehouses, on average four to five storeys in height, which were predominantly built around the turn of the century or shortly thereafter. Functional in plan, simple in form and notable for classical renaissance motifs in their street aspect, the warehouses combine to form a continuous street facade on the loose Italianate style, a style favoured by the commercial aristocracy for the prestige it bestowed.

On the southern side, the buildings are more varied in age, scale and character and are interspersed with buildings of more modern origin.

Aesthetic:

The warehouse precinct makes a significant contribution to the visual amenities of Auckland City's downtown area.

The significance of the Customs St warehouses lies not only in their

contribution to the character of the downtown commercial area but also

because of their association with the grand houses of Princes St. For example, "Pembridge" at 31 Princes St was the home of A.H. Nathan whose five storeyed warehouse stands at 42 Customs St East.

This historic area was registered under the Historic Places Act 1993. The following text is from the original Recommendation for Registration report considered by the NZHPT Board at the time of registration.

Cultural/Social:

The brick warehouses and stores of permanent materials and imposing

appearance erected in Customs St East contributed to a perception by Auckland residents that the town was developing into a prosperous commercial centre.

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Construction Dates

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

A.H. Nathan Warehouse and Condiments Factory
Achilles House
Arcade
Australis House
Barrington Building
Blows Buildings [Demolished]
Britomart Service Station [Demolished]
Britomart Tavern
Charter House
Edmund Eillingham Building [Demolished]
Excelsior Building (Former)
G.W Owen & Co. Building
Heather House [Demolished]
Hipkins & Coutts Building [Demolished]
Levy Buildings
Masonic Club / Buckland Building
P Hayman & Co. Warehouse (Former)
Rands House [Demolished]
Reid and Gray Building [Demolished]
Stamford House
Stanbeth House
Tatler & Spectator (Restaurant)