National Bank Building

189-191 Queen Street, Masterton

  • National Bank Building, Masterton. CC Licence 3.0 Image courtesy of
    Copyright: Ulrich Lange, Bochum, Germany - Wikimedia Commons. Taken By: Ulrich Lange. Date: 22/02/2009.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 2 Public Access Private/No Public Access
List Number 7374 Date Entered 13th February 1997


City/District Council

Masterton District


Wellington Region

Legal description

pt Sec 9 DP 6916

Assessment criteriaopen/close

This historic place was registered under the Historic Places Act 1993. The following text is from the original Historic Place Assessment Under Section 23 Criteria report considered by the NZHPT Board at the time of registration.


Chris Cochran remarks in the conservation plan that, because of its architectural form and prominent site in the commercial heart of Masterton, the townscape value of the National Bank building is high. It forms part of a coherent group of three bank buildings of the 1920s-apparently a grouping of like commercial buildings that is rare anywhere in the country.


The National Bank is an important Masterton commercial building designed in a Greek Revival style as a Doric temple front It was the work of a nationally important architectural practice, Atkins and Mitchell.

The interior has a single dramatic banking chamber which, although altered, retains significant original fabric. It is an important example of banking architecture of the 1920s in New Zealand.


The main technological value of the National Bank derives from its reinforced concrete construction, which was apparently advanced for its time.

This historic place was registered under the Historic Places Act 1993. The following text is from the original Historic Place Assessment Under Section 23 Criteria report considered by the NZHPT Board at the time of registration.

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

DATE: 1925

ARCIDTECT: Cyril Mitchell

DESIGN: Inter War Greek Revival

The original was a competent, small-scale Greek Revival bank building-not an uncommon choice of style for such premises given the strong, formal and slightly austere nature of the Greek Revival style in general. (The best example is the BNZ building in lower Queen Street, Auckland).

The Masterton building was constructed by Fletcher Construction of reinforced concrete. It has one main facade, the front (Queen Street) facade. The two storey addition at the rear was constructed in 1979-1980. Discussion of the exterior necessarily centers on the front facade.

This preserves quite a lot of the original 1925 facade, 'although there have some modifications over the life of the building" The original was built as a small-scale Doric temple, with a recessed opening flanked by two plain piers and supported by two freestanding, fluted Doric columns. The whole was capped by a traditional triangular pediment and a plain parapet with string course. The simplified entablature featured the usual architrave, frieze and cornice. The frieze had simplified guttae and triglyphs. At the apex of the pediment, and on either side, there were acroteria.

This front has been modernised. A verandah cuts across the face of the columns, and there are modern doors and tiling at the entrance .. The tympanum of the pediment has been filled with profiled sheathing and the frieze has been plastered over. The acroteria have been removed, too. However, notwithstanding these modifications, the basic elements of the original Doric temple style survive and still give the building considerable character and formal presence.

The architect was Cyril Mitchell (1891-1949) of the Wellington firm Atkins and Mitchell. Mitchell also designed important public buildings in Wellington, including the Commercial Travellers Club (1929), Waterloo Hotel (1936), Central Fire Station (1935) and the MLC Building (1940).

According to the Conservation Plan, the original building was basically one space, the banking chamber. Chris Cochran remarks that this chamber was 'dramatic and, although altered, retains significant original fabric. It is an important example of banking architecture of the 1920s in New Zealand'.

In the major alterations of 1979-80 the original two storey lean-to at the rear, which had contained service rooms on the ground floor and the resident officer's sitting and bedroom on the first floor, was demolished. The banking chamber was modernised. Important heritage features apparently remain in the original part of the building, in particular three original oak panelled doors with architraves, and the deeply coffered

ceiling with central panels of coloured and leaded glass. The original joinery of the banking chamber has gone, along with the original doors.

(m) Such additional criteria not inconsistent with those in paragraphs (a) to (k):

There are 64 classified banks buildings on the register, of which 12 are premises or former premises of the National Bank. A brief survey of four National Bank buildings demonstrates that the Masterton building is a very competent and in some ways typical design for this commercial banking house.

The (former) National Bank in Outram, Otago, is a Category II building, constructed in 1869 in a simple, austere Greek Revival style. Obviously, this bank had a preference for this style from its earliest days in the colony.

The National Bank in Princess Street, Dunedin, was built in 1912 in something of an Edwardian Baroque style. This is a relatively large and ornate building that features, appropriately for a city bank building, a full repertoire- of classical details. It is classified Category I .

The National Bank in Hawera was also designed by Atkins and Mitchell and built in 1924-25. This building was also designed as a kind of Greek temple, on a somewhat larger scale than Masterton, and featuring Ionic columns instead of Doric columns. It is classified Category II.

The National Bank in New Plymouth was built in 1939. Interestingly, it is designed in a stripped classical mode, in which the detail of, say, the 1920's buildings has been pared back to a much flatter style which still preserves the tempo (as defined by column spacings etc.) of earlier buildings. It is a Category II building.

The Masterton National Bank building is a worthy addition to the register of bank buildings generally, and National Bank buildings specifically. This kind of building had an important place in the commercial community and they were carefully designed to enhance the prestige of their respective commercial houses. The detail and form preserved at Masterton in the National Bank building make a Category II classification appropriate.


Construction Professionalsopen/close

Mitchell, C H

No biography is currently available for this construction professional

Additional informationopen/close

Construction Dates

Original Construction
1925 -

Other Information

A copy of the original report is available from the NZHPT Central 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.