A.H. Nathan Warehouse and Condiments Factory

40-46 Customs Street East, Auckland

  • A.H. Nathan Warehouse and Condiments Factory. Image included in Field Record Form Collection.
    Copyright: Heritage New Zealand. Taken By: J McKenzie. Date: 20/02/1992.
  • A.H. Warehouse and Condiments Factory. Rear of building. Image included in Field Record Form Collection.
    Copyright: Heritage New Zealand. Taken By: J McKenzie. Date: 20/02/1992.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 2 Public Access Private/No Public Access
List Number 7296 Date Entered 14th December 1995

Locationopen/close

City/District Council

Auckland Council (Auckland City Council)

Region

Auckland Council

Legal description

Lots 107,108 & 109 DP 2770 pt Sec 1, Town of Auckland

Assessment criteriaopen/close

Historical Significance or Value

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

A.H Nathan Condiments Factory:

This building was probably erected around 1903 for A.H. Nathan Ltd., importers and general merchants. It was built beside Nathan's tea packing warehouse and general factory. This warehouse served as the headquarters for Nathans, one of Auckland and indeed, the country's most prominent merchants and retailers until 1970.

A.H Nathan Warehouse:

The building was erected in 1903 for AH Nathan Ltd , importers and general merchants as a tea packing warehouse and general factory. It served as the headquarters for Nathans, one of Auckland and indeed, the country's most prominent merchants and retailers until 1970.

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

Archaeological:

Parts of this area have archaeological potential.

Architectural:

A.H Nathan Warehouse:

The former Nathan's Warehouse (1903) was designed by A P Wilson (1851-1937). Wilson's personal style and preference for designing two totally different facades on the front and rear of a building is obvious in the Nathan building.

The main brick facade of the building is designed in true Victorian/Edwardian Warehouse style. This style is derived from Richardsonian Romanesque named after the American Henry Hobson Richardson (D1886). While the influence of H H Richardson is unmistakable on the main facade of Nathan's Warehouse, the rear facade of the building is not Richardsonian at all, but instead is a plain, academic, neo-Classical Warehouse fa├žade.

The interior of Nathan's Warehouse has been modified in the same way as the other Britomart warehouses, ie, with modern wall board over the brick walls, false ceilings with service cables and ducts in the cavities, carpet and encasement of the original columns and beams.

What is clear is that underneath all the modernisation the original cast iron columns and wooden beams are intact, along with the original brick walls and timber ceilings and floors. A bonus from a conservation point of view is the existence under the modern false ceiling of the original finer detailed classical Egg and Dart cornice mouldings in plaster which encase the beams supporting the first floor. The columns have capitals which show their form an interesting interface between classical and industrial design, an item well deserving of note. The design is repeated on all the columns throughout the building and is seen at its best in the basement area.

The stairs above the first floor appear to have original rails and newel posts - although they are plain, as would have been the case for a warehouse. Stair balusters have possibly been encased as may also have happened at the Masonic/Bucklands building.

A.H Nathan Condiments Factory:

Although the original assessment stated that the facade of this factory has been severely modified by the introduction of roller doors, the interior nevertheless has one interesting original feature which is a pair of metal tracks on the floor at the entrance which may have been intended to guide cart wheels.

The remainder. of the original interior appears to be intact in terms of the building envelope itself. There is a residential flat that takes up about two thirds of the building.

The brick walls with corbels supporting the roof trusses are still plainly visible, and are of some passing interest.

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

The following comments are made in relation to the criteria identified under S.23(2) of the Historic Places Act 1993.

A.H Nathan Warehouse and A.H Nathan Condiments Factory:

a) The extent to which the place reflects important and representative aspects of New Zealand history.

b) The association of the place with events, persons or ideas of importance in New Zealand history:

Nathan's first store, a five storey masonry kauri gum and bonded store, was located further along Customs St and was completely destroyed by fire in 1901. The condiments factory and adjoining warehouse were built around 1903 to replace this destroyed store.

The A.H. Nathan Warehouse and Condiments Factory reflects the importance of merchandising warehouses to New Zealand cities. In a colony which lacked substantial manufacturing industries, importing was an important business activity. These merchandising warehouses were usually clustered around the interface between the waterfront and the central business district. This building has special historical significance because its association with Arthur Hyman Nathan, one of New Zealand's most significant capitalists. The firm survived and prospered and is still a significant company.

The condiments factory and adjoining warehouse reflect the continuity of Nathan's history for sixty to seventy years.

b) The association of the place with events, persons or ideas of importance in New Zealand history.

A.H Nathan Warehouse:

Arthur Hyman Nathan was one of New Zealand's most important businessmen, being brought out to New Zealand by David Nathan to work for his firm. After a family quarrel, A H left to found his own company. It prospered The historian of L D Nathan & Co , writing of A H Nathan & Co in 1984, commented that "today the old firm and the new co-exists and trade happily, the one with the other and a close family relationship exists between the Nathan cousins on both sides."

Although better known as a shipping agent and merchant, between 1882 and 1883, A H Nathan also owned the cutter Louise.

The building has maintained a strong link to maritime and maritime-related businesses such as customs agencies and travel agencies. Sofrana, also associated with Sofrana House, is a well known South Pacific company. G W Dunsford and Pacific Forum Line, the latter a political creation of the 1970s which is still managed from New Zealand, remain significant contributors to the business activities of the Auckland waterfront community.

c) the potential of the place to provide knowledge of New Zealand history.

A.H Nathan Warehouse and A.H Nathan Condiments Factory:

The Customs St East buildings all stand on land reclaimed between 1879 and 1886 and therefore have archaeological significance.

Reclamation of the seabed commenced in 1859. The outer edge of the northern side of Customs St was initially bounded by a muddy embankment and on the seaward side of the reclamation were massive stone retaining walls. Customs St provided access to a number of wharves constructed out across the mudflats of Commercial Bay to deeper water. Between 1879 and 1886 the reclamation continued in a northerly and easterly direction forming the land between Customs and Quay St. This is the land on which the warehouses now stand.

It is probable that a large quantity of material will have been deposited on the sea bed from the wharves which is likely to include artefacts of historical and archaeological interest.

g) The technical accomplishment or value, or design of the place.

A.H Nathan Warehouse:

The main brick facade of Nathans was designed in true Victorian/Edwardian Warehouse style by AP Wilson. The style is derived from Richardsonian Romanesque named after the American Henry Hobson Richardson, an Arts & Crafts architect. Richardson was an Arts and Crafts architect who created a distinctive revivalist style for commercial and domestic buildings based on contrasting materials (brick, stone, and wooden shingles) used in conjunction with the Romanesque arch form. The style had a lasting influence which did not go out of fashion until c 1915

A.H Nathan Condiments Factory:

Conclusion:

The A.H. Nathan Condiments Factory, 46 Customs St East, Auckland, is recommended for registration as a Category II as a historical and cultural heritage significance and value. The A.H. Nathan Condiments Factory is part of a group of turn of the century merchandising warehouses built on Auckland's busy waterfront. The Condiments Factory has an important functional and historical relationship with the warehouse and together the two buildings have historical significance because of their association with Nathans, one of the country's most prominent merchants and retailers until 1970.

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Additional informationopen/close

Physical Description

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

40-46 Customs Street East:

Building 1:

Simple brick facade polychromatic window lintels, series of arched windows and wrought iron balcony at attic storey. The Galway St facade is broken into single bays by piasters and as with Customs St facade, arched windows cap the attic floor. Five storey, brick, built in

1903 as warehouse for A.H Nathan, general Merchants & Kauri Gum & Produce Brokers. Architect: A.P Wilson.

Building 2:

Central pediment supported on each side by bays topped with scroll motif. A one/two storey, brick/corrugated iron built for A.H Nathan as an accessory building (Condiments Factory) Constructed c.1903- 1904, front portion/facade probably built between 1904 and 1909.

Construction Dates

Original Construction
1903 - 1904

Information Sources

Auckland Public Libraries

Auckland Public Libraries

Auckland Scrapbook, April 1971 p. 225-6

Auckland Weekly News

Auckland Weekly News

10/1/1885 p.5

22/12/1899 p.42

17/12/1903 p.22

Easdale, 1980

N. Easdale, Five Gentlemen's Residences in Princes Street Auckland: The Occupants and Their Enterprises 1875-1900, Auckland, 1980

pg. 6 & 46

Auckland Harbour Board

Auckland Harbour Board

Auckland Harbour Board Minute Book 6, p.194

Other Information

Copies of the original registration reports are 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.