Historical Significance or Value
The place has high value for its connections with Auckland’s development as an early colonial port and entrepot and for reflecting important stages in Auckland’s development as New Zealand’s pre-eminent commercial and financial centre. Erected as drapery store and warehouse towards the end of Auckland’s period as colonial capital, the former D. Graham and Company’s Building has special significance as the oldest known surviving commercial building in Auckland’s Queen Street; and as one of very few mid-nineteenth-century mercantile buildings to survive in the commercial heart of the city. The place has historical significance for reflecting the importance of the drapery trade in early New Zealand society, and for its close association with David Graham. Graham commissioned the Queen Street building in 1862 to better provide for his business that grew out of Victoria House, old Auckland’s leading drapery establishment.
The historical importance of the place is reinforced by its close association with individuals that contributed to Auckland’s municipal, infrastructure, commercial and economic development. As noted, it has special value for its association with early townsman, local body politician and well-established member of Auckland’s colonial business community, David Graham, who was a co-founder and director of several important business institutions including the New Zealand Insurance Company (1859) and the Bank of New Zealand (1861), entities that achieved colony-wide influence and contributed to Auckland’s dominance as the commercial capital of New Zealand after 1880. As a member of the first Auckland City Council (1854); chair of the Auckland Harbour Board (1856); a founding director of the Auckland Gas Company (1862); and a member of the City Board of Commissioners (1863-8), Graham enjoyed considerable influence and made a substantial contribution to the overall development and stewardship of the early city.
The building has historical significance as the location of an early Auckland restaurant - St Mungo Café - (1871-82) a venue type that evidently appeared in New Zealand in the 1860s. The place also has historical significance for its association with noted nineteenth-century photographer and property entrepreneur John Nicol Crombie and his estate who owned the property for over four decades (1871-1914). Crombie is a figure of considerable historical significance well known for his photographic record of Auckland, its people and events over the formative years of 1855 to 1869.
The place has further historical significance for its seven-decade service as a drapery store in the main street of New Zealand’s largest city and for its associations with notable figures in the trade including Ralph and John Keesing (1868-71) members of an early Auckland family who were among the founders of the city’s first synagogue; William Rattray (1871-81) who was instrumental in construction of an early twentieth-century St John ambulance station and headquarters in Auckland; and John Court (1889-1910) whose enterprise developed into one of Auckland’s twentieth-century landmark department stores.
The place has considerable value as the former premises of one of two pioneering branches of Boots the Chemist retail stores established in New Zealand, the first branches created outside Britain by England’s largest manufacturing and retail pharmacy chain. Following demolition of the Willis Street building in which Boots opened in Wellington on 29 January 1936, the former D. Graham and Company’s Building at 104-106 Queen Street - which opened as a pharmacy on 1 July 1936 - represents the earliest-surviving former branch premises of Boots outside Britain.
Aesthetic Significance or Value:
The D. Graham and Company’s Building (Former) has aesthetic value as an important visual element in a notable group of four nineteenth-century commercial buildings on the east side of Queen Street immediately to the south of the Shortland Street intersection. The building and the broader group enhance the aesthetic value of Queen Street, one of New Zealand’s premier commercial thoroughfares.
The place also has some aesthetic value for its overall Italianate appearance including surviving ornamental features such as pronounced decorative quoins, window detailing on the upper-storey including a lugged sill incorporated within the string course, and an entablature below the parapet. The D. Graham and Company’s Building, the nearby former Gilfillan’s Store and the former Bank of New Zealand are the only known remnants of 1860s streetscape in Auckland’s main commercial thoroughfare.
Architectural Significance or Value:
The place has high architectural significance as one of comparatively few surviving early 1860s commercial buildings. The structure reflects the scale of development in central Auckland during the colonial period, when buildings rarely exceeded two or three storeys in height.
The building exterior has architectural value as an early colonial Italianate design, substantial elements of which survive. Its comparatively simple appearance informed by an earlier Georgian-style building constructed for Graham in Shortland Street demonstrates the emergence of mid nineteenth-century Italianate-style commercial architecture in urban Auckland and contrasts with more ornate Italianate-style buildings erected later in the century.
The building also has architectural significance as one of few currently known surviving commercial building designed by architect James Wrigley, an early Auckland architect of note.
Technological Significance or Value:
The former D. Graham and Company’s Building constructed in 1862-3 has technological significance as an example of a particularly early use of brick mortar created from Raglan limestone, a natural resource discovered in 1862. The limestone product later used by the building trade in the wider North Island in the 1880s and early 1890s was found to be excellent for plastering.
(a) The extent to which the place reflects important or representative aspects of New Zealand history:
The former D. Graham and Company’s Building has special significance for reflecting important stages in Auckland’s emergence and development as New Zealand’s pre-eminent commercial and financial centre, from the mid-nineteenth century onwards. The place located near the original foreshore reflects early surviving stages of Auckland’s commercial development as an entrepot, its reliance on imported goods, and the importance of the drapery trade in colonial New Zealand.
(b) The association of the place with events, persons, or ideas of importance in New Zealand history:
The place has special value as the earliest surviving former branch premises of Boots the Chemist retail stores in New Zealand and outside Britain, an enterprise intimately associated with the twentieth-century expansion of overseas retail pharmaceutical chains into the New Zealand market and development of policy relating to pharmaceutical benefits as part of the First Labour Government’s free-at-point-of-use health system instituted under the Social Security Act 1938.
The place also has special value for the strength of its association with the companies of two individuals of significance in Auckland’s commercial history.
The place is of special value as a remaining example of a place that reflects the importance of businessman and early local body politician David Graham, an individual who made a substantial contribution to the development of early Auckland. Graham was a founding member of a number of significant local government and infrastructure bodies influential in development of the early colonial capital, and of financial institutions including the New Zealand Insurance Company and the Bank of New Zealand.
The place also has special value for its two-decade association with John Court, one of two particularly influential Court brothers who each established major department store chains in New Zealand’s largest city.
(f) The potential of the place for public education:
Located within a group of four highly visible nineteenth-century commercial buildings in an area of high public and visitor activity in Auckland’s main street, the place has potential for public education about aspects of Auckland’s commercial development and colonial architecture. The building constructed in 1862-3 has special value for insights it can provide into Auckland’s development during the early 1860s, particularly the change from single- and two-storey timber commercial premises, to taller three-storey brick buildings.
(g) The technical accomplishment or value, or design of the place:
The place has special significance as a rare surviving purpose-built commercial building of early colonial Auckland, and the earliest known surviving example in Auckland’s main street. The design retains its 1860s three-storey scale, its discrete visual identity, and substantial elements of its original external detailing particularly above first storey level. The place also represents an early known example of the use of brick mortar created from Raglan limestone, a product used throughout the wider North Island in the late nineteenth century.
The design has special value as one of few currently known surviving commercial buildings designed by architect James Wrigley, an early Auckland architect of note.
(i) The importance of identifying historic places known to date from early periods of New Zealand settlement:
The place is important as one of comparatively few surviving buildings in central Auckland that date from the period preceding relocation of the colonial capital to Wellington in 1865. It is also one of few surviving commercial buildings erected prior to 1865 on or near the original shoreline in the Lower Queen, Fort and Shortland area of Auckland. The place reflects the city’s economic development during the early phase of colonial history.
(k) The extent to which the place forms part of a wider historical and cultural complex or historical and cultural landscape:
The former D. Graham and Company’s Building is of special significance as an early part of an important historical and cultural landscape in Auckland’s Lower Queen Street, Fort Street and Shortland Street area. This landscape reflects the city’s development as a major commercial and financial centre, including its emergence as the country’s main port and entrepot. The place is particularly important for its location one block south of Auckland’s early foreshore, and for its association with Queen Street’s 1860s evolution as Auckland’s main street eclipsing Shortland Street. The proximity of the place to two surviving 1860s buildings in Lower Queen Street (the former Gilfillan’s Store and the former Bank of New Zealand); and to three adjoining later nineteenth-century commercial buildings south of Shortland Street, increases its value by allowing comparisons to be made about evolving architectural design. The place also represents an early surviving element within a significant nineteenth- and early twentieth-century historical and cultural landscape bounded by Shortland Street, High Street and Vulcan Lane - part of which has been formally recognised for its considerable historical, townscape and landmark qualities as the Vulcan Lane historic area. As the oldest known surviving building in Queen Street, the now comparatively low-rise three-storey D. Graham and Company’s Building (Former) makes an important contribution to the Queen Street landscape and represents the earliest surviving stage of over a century and a half of commercial development on Auckland’s main street.
Summary of Significance or Values:
It is considered that this place qualifies as a Category 1 historic place.
The former D. Graham and Company’s Building has special significance as a rare surviving commercial building of early Auckland, and as the earliest known surviving commercial building in Queen Street. It reflects Auckland’s development as a major import centre and commercial hub over the past century and a half, during which period Auckland emerged and developed as New Zealand’s main commercial and financial centre. The place retaining its discrete visual identity and original three-storey scale has special value for insights it can provide into Auckland’s development during the 1860s, particularly the transition from single- and two-storey timber premises, to taller three-storey brick commercial buildings. The place is of special value as a remaining example of a place that reflects the importance of entrepreneurial businessman and early local body politician David Graham, an individual who made a substantial contribution to the development of early Auckland, and financial and business institutions of national importance.
The place has special architectural value as one of few currently known surviving commercial buildings designed by architect James Wrigley an early Auckland architect of note; and represents a particularly early use of brick mortar created from Raglan limestone, a product used in the wider North Island in the late nineteenth century.
The place is intimately associated with the twentieth-century expansion of Boots overseas retail pharmaceutical chain into the New Zealand market, and has special value as the earliest surviving former branch premises of Boots the Chemist retail stores in New Zealand and outside Britain.
Early history of the site:
Prior to the founding of colonial Auckland, the Queen Street gully was known as Waihorotiu and was subject to intermittent Maori occupation. Te Whatu waka landing and mooring area was a rocky ledge at the foot of what became Shortland Street. Ngati Whatua’s offer to transfer a large area of land to the British Crown for the creation of a colonial capital was formally agreed in September 1840.
The site of D. Graham and Company’s Building, within Allotment 1 at the southern corner of Queen Street and Shortland Crescent (Street), formed part of an 1842 Crown Grant to Robert Tod of Nelson. The allotment had not sold at the first land sale on account of its proximity to swamp. At that time the sea reached the foot of Shortland Crescent one block from the foreshore - Fore (later Fort) Street - which along with the Queen Street wharf formed the main landing place for imports and people during much of the period when Auckland was colonial capital of New Zealand. The port was the main entrepot in northern New Zealand.
Tod’s holding was subdivided in 1843 and Queen’s Lane created. In 1844, the steep section of Shortland Crescent was cut down to fill the lower-lying portion of the Crescent, and form and metal Queen Street. Portions of Allotment 1 changed hands several times before John Graham (1820-68) purchased rear Lot 5 in October 1859 from boot-maker Andrew Rooney - to which he added Lot 4 occupied by Boylan’s premises fronting Queen Street, in May 1861.
Graham had arrived in Auckland in the 1850s to join his brothers David (1822-73) and Robert (1820-85) who settled in the early 1840s. The Grahams were born in Lanarkshire, Scotland, to Barbara Stirling Rennie and her husband Robert Graham - a farmer and coal merchant - so had financial backing. Robert was to become the most prominent of the siblings. A land speculator and developer he was a pioneer of the New Zealand tourist industry; laid out Grahamstown at the Thames goldfield opened 1867; and was a Superintendent of Auckland Province (1862-5).
David and Robert Graham with business partner John Dickson opened a drapery store known as Victoria House in February 1844 part way up Shortland Crescent. In September 1844, Victoria House relocated to the Queen Street corner; and in 1848 to a purpose-built, three-storey brick store on the corner of Queen’s Lane. The partnership R. and D. Graham dissolved in 1849. The firm continued as Graham and Henderson until 1853 then became D. Graham and Company. By the 1850s, clothing formed about a third of total imports to the colony with drapery items being the largest single class of goods imported. An 1884 newspaper article recalling the early city cited Victoria House as the leading drapery establishment of old Auckland.
Construction of Graham’s Building (1862-3), Queen Street:
Encountering mortgage difficulties, in January 1862 John Graham conveyed the Queen Street holding to David a well-established member of Auckland’s business community.
David, the first of three Graham brothers to settle in New Zealand, had arrived in 1840 setting up as a general merchant at Kororareka before moving to Auckland by 1844. He was one of seven townsmen elected to Auckland’s first City Council (1854); was a chair of the Harbour Board (1856), and the City Board of Commissioners of which he was member (1863-8); and co-founded several important business institutions - some achieving colony-wide financial influence that led to Auckland’s dominance as the commercial capital of New Zealand after 1880. Graham was a founding trustee of the Auckland Savings Bank (1847); inaugural Deputy Chairman of the New Zealand Insurance Company (1859); and a director (1862-3) of the Bank of New Zealand founded in 1861.
Whilst retaining ownership of Victoria House in Shortland Crescent, in 1862 D. Graham and Company commissioned a new drapery shop and warehouse fronting Queen Street. As the commercial and mercantile character of the inner city became more pronounced the price of Queen Street land accelerated, displacing Shortland Street as Auckland’s main business thoroughfare. The stewardship exercised by businessmen like Graham who served on local bodies, played a significant part in Queen Street’s rise - as did the Auckland Gas Company of which Graham was a founding director in 1862.
Messrs D. Graham and Company’s purposed-designed drapery and warehouse was an early three-storey brick building on the east side of Queen Street, surrounded by timber structures of two storeys or less. Some five-and-a-half decades later respected local architect Edward Bartley (who arrived in Auckland in 1854) was to attest in a witnessed declaration that in 1862 Graham had erected the brick building - still standing in 1914 in its original state as to its main external walls - across the rear right-of-way (Queen’s Lane).
Site excavation began in June 1862 for the scoria block foundations that were to support the 27.5 x 8-metre (90 x 26 feet) structure clad with slate roof. The basement was constructed as a bonded store.
Brickwork contractor George Boyd’s use of a mortar of burnt Raglan limestone supplied by Graham was a particularly early use of a resource the discovery of which was reported in October 1862. Graham had nine tons of the limestone brought up and burnt at Onehunga to create a product said to be of excellent quality for building purposes. Raglan lime, used by Seccombe and Son for their Khyber Pass Brewery (1864) and more generally in Auckland, Taranaki and Whanganui in the 1880s and early 1890s, was later found to be excellent for plastering and drew favourable comment from members of the Auckland Institute of Architects in 1885.
In mid-March 1863 Messrs. D. Graham and Company’s new premises approached completion. Reflecting growing unease at the shift of the demographic centre of gravity south following the rise of pastoralism and the discovery of gold in Canterbury and Otago, the building was promoted in the local press as ongoing evidence of Auckland’s stability and progress.
The stucco-finished façade incorporated decorative quoin-work. The shop’s centrally-located entrance and two large plate-glass windows were protected by specially imported, revolving, fire-proof shutters. On both upper floors a centrally-located opening accommodated three window divisions side by side each containing double-hung sashes. The window opening on the first floor was trimmed by a plain pediment; that on the second floor by a moulded lintel supported by brackets, and a string course that doubled as a window sill. The façade was completed by a shallow entablature.
Internally, a staircase led from the basement to the three upper floors. The ground-floor shop extended the length of the building and was lit by a large roof-light. The walls and ceiling were plastered. The two upper floors were showrooms.
The premises were designed by the prominent Auckland-based architect James Wrigley (1837?-1882) who after his arrival in Auckland in 1859 is reported to have erected the original portion of the Whau Lunatic Asylum in 1865 (later known as Carrington Hospital) at the time the largest building in the Auckland Province. Known as the designer of a number of churches in the Auckland region, Wrigley was also the architect for substantial additions made to the Northern Club in 1870 and to Robert Graham’s Waiwera Hotel in 1880.
The contractors were Messrs Boyd, brickwork; Thorpe, carpentry and shop fittings; and Gough, plaster work. John Thorpe appears to have been the most senior of a number of carpenters in Graham’s employ. His responsibilities extended to overseeing sawyers working in the Waikato. George Boyd (1825-86) who styled himself as a builder was the founder of the Newton brick and tile works, an important nineteenth-century Auckland enterprise.
Early use of D. Graham and Company’s Building (1863-71):
The drapery store opened on 11 April 1863 on a portion of Queen Street reputed to be one of the principal locations for the city. Stock included clothing; fabrics; hats; haberdashery; fancy goods; damask table cloths; rugs; writing paper; and, wallpaper. Skilled staff included mantel-makers and milliners. The Company owned one or more provincial drapery businesses.
A hoist raised goods from the back lane. Direct communication was provided between the Shortland Street store and the new building separated by a fire-proof-door. At the rear of the premises the laying of foundations was progressing for a three-storey building intended as a residence for Graham’s young male employees.
In 1867 D. Graham and Company succumbed to the economic depression. War expenditure had ceased after the Waikato Campaign (1863-4); many Maori withdrew from the colonial economy; and the rural hinterland on which Auckland’s merchants and businessmen had counted failed to materialise. Relocation of the colonial capital to Wellington at the beginning of 1865 removed General Government spending enjoyed by local businesses. Graham had outlaid substantial capital in 1865 erecting a bonded store in nearby Vulcan Lane for grocery and liquor wholesaling.
Graham sold D. Graham and Company to his brother John and brother-in-law John Kirkwood in early 1867. Graham, Kirkwood and Company drapers traded from the Queen Street store but failed shortly after.
Some held the Grahams and three other notable businessmen ‘the clique in Queen Street’ responsible for the collapse of Auckland’s prosperity; although in December 1867 Graham was presented with an address signed by many of the province’s bankers, merchants and farmers assuring him of their continued regard and esteem. Following his death in 1873 aged 51, Graham’s remains were interred in Symonds Street cemetery - one tribute noting that there was not an enterprise which tended to the advancement and progress of the city that David Graham had not identified himself with.
In 1868 Graham’s Building opposite the recently-completed landmark Bank of New Zealand was purchased by Auckland drapers Keesing, Doitsh, and Keesing. Ralph (d.1913) and John Keesing (d.1914) had arrived at Auckland in 1842 with their parents. The family was among the founders of the first Hebrew congregation where Ralph assisted with services prior to the appointment of a rabbi in the early 1850s. In keeping with Jewish religious observance the Queen Street store was closed on Saturdays, although resumed business at sunset. The business ceased in 1871.
St Mungo Place (1871-89):
The building, well-fitted for the drapery trade but said to be equally well adapted for a banking-house or first-class hotel, was bought in 1871 by noted photographer and property investor John Nicol Crombie (1827-1878) who also purchased adjoining property including the City Club Hotel (Victoria House, 1848). Crombie, well known for his photographic record of Auckland, its people and events over the years 1855 to 1869, returned to England in 1872.
The building was advertised as suitable for letting to jewelers, tobacconists or other fancy traders and divided into three leases. Plaster lettering ‘St Mungo Place’ was added to the façade. A street verandah, in place by 1881, may have been added at this time.
The drapery shop, said to be one of the most commodious in the city, became St Mungo House. Alterations by Dickson (builder) included construction of a further stairway to the first floor to provide access to the top floor (within the tenancy). Prominent Auckland draper William Rattray (d.1934) whose business retained the name New Zealand House took a ten-year lease in 1871. London-born Rattray’s strong financial management skills enabled the construction of a substantial St John ambulance station and headquarters in Auckland’s Rutland Street in 1912-13.
Another portion of St Mungo Place was let in 1871 to Hill, Fenton and Hulbert, retail hatters. Prior to the firm’s arrival from Melbourne, all hats and caps were imported to Auckland (attracting heavy customs duty) and sold at draper stores. The firm commenced manufacturing in Victoria Street, employing a number of people to create hats for both sexes, in addition to the making of ceremonial and military headwear. By 1872 when Hulbert left, the partnership was hatter to Sir George Ferguson Bowen the colonial Governor (1868-73). Trading as W.H. Fenton after late 1877, the firm moved out in 1879.
The third portion of St Mungo Place (part ground floor, and the entire first floor) was fitted out as St Mungo Café - a shop, out-catering business and café opened in September 1871 by Charles Canning (c.1823-1897).
Edinburgh-born Canning had been in business as a confectioner in Auckland since his arrival in 1855. Advertisements promoted the sale of breads, biscuits and confectionary, including tinned biscuits that had been kiln-dried and were mentioned as suitable for long voyages. Jellies for invalids were also available. On the first floor was a complete suite of rooms set aside for the accommodation of Auckland’s ladies.
Nineteenth-century café culture appears to have come to New Zealand in the early 1860s. Canning’s Queen Street premises, including its dining establishment, was a reflection of social change and the development of an increasingly prosperous and growing middle class in mid-Victorian Auckland society. Men were generally able to dine out in restaurants, hotels or public dining-rooms. With the emergence of shopping as a middle-class leisure activity, however, there were few places where respectable non-chaperoned women could dine before the widespread development of tea rooms and related dining establishments.
The café, drapery and hatter’s co-located at St Mungo Place, although physically discrete tenancies, anticipated in some small way the emergence of New Zealand department stores in the early twentieth century.
In 1882 Canning’s St Mungo Café moved into ornate purpose-designed three-storey premises on the adjoining property - a project undertaken during Auckland’s economic boom of the late 1870s and early 1880s and instigated by Harriet Ashby, the remarried widow of the late Crombie who had died in 1878 during a trip back to New Zealand to check on his investments.
Rattray’s former tenancy was taken over draper and clothier John Leck in late 1881. Snedden bought Leck out in January 1884, closing three-and-a-half-years later during the economic depression of the late 1880s and early 1890s. Draper Robert Gray subsequently traded from the premises for two years until mid-1889.
In 1882 tobacconist Arthur Tilly became a tenant, selling cricketing material as a side line. Commencing in 1884, professional offices known as St Mungo Chambers operated above the shops.
Court Brothers and twentieth-century drapers (1889-1936):
In June 1889, the drapery tenancy was taken over by Court Brothers who appear to have occupied most of the building by the turn of the century.
John Court had joined the partnership established by his siblings George and Frederick Court on Auckland’s Karangahape Road three years before (1886). By 1889 the business founded in a deep economic recession had expanded to a second store - St Mungo Place, on Queen Street. The early partnership was dissolved in March 1891. The following year alterations and improvements by Julian (builder) evidently made the spacious and well-lit shop one of the largest in the city. An additional 15.25 metres (50 feet) of counter room was provided, and better lighting.
The Auckland firm split in 1902 with George Court remaining in Karangahape Road; and John Court in Queen Street. The premises at 104 Queen Street were the first retail outlet of John Court’s enterprise, a venture that expanded to become two separate shops on the east side of Auckland’s main street by 1905, and three by 1909. John Court consolidated with the purchase of premises on the corner of Victoria Street in 1910, a building doubled in size in 1916 to become one of Auckland’s landmark department stores.
Clothier John Dalton installed water closets in St Mungo Place circa 1911. The premises were briefly without a draper from circa 1913 until 1917. Outfitters E.C. Browne and Company Limited commissioned alterations designed by local architects May and Morran and installed electric lighting in the building in 1917. The three first-floor sash windows overlooking Queen Street were replaced by one large window. An upper-storey window on the south elevation was remodeled to provide an egress door for a fire escape to Queen’s Lane.
Boots the Chemists (1936-90) and after:
Some months before the election of the First Labour Government to office in New Zealand in December 1935, representatives of Boots - England’s largest manufacturing and retail chemists - acquired centrally-located premises in the dominion’s two main centres. The nineteenth-century enterprise founded by Jesse Boot (later Lord Trent, d.1931) sold drugs for less than competitors and branched into pharmaceutical manufacture in addition to the chemist shops of which there 1,120 employing 12,500 sales staff in Britain by 1936.
Boots’ proposal to establish a chain of pharmacies was opposed by the dominion’s retail pharmacists who were already experiencing growing competition from grocers and Friendly Societies and feared the foreign firm would displace small owner-operated businesses. Lord Trent, the chairman of directors of Boots Pure Drug Company Limited, visited in February 1936 to confer with the New Zealand government regarding the objections raised by New Zealand chemists. The Trents were accompanied by Colonel Braithwaite (a director of the firm) and Lady Braithwaite. As the remarried widow of Lord William Plunket a former Governor General of New Zealand (1904-1910), Lady Victoria Alexandrina Braithwaite (1873-1968) was already well known to New Zealanders. The mother of eight children had lent her name and support to the Royal New Zealand Plunket Society, a national voluntary organisation founded in 1907. Dedicated to improving the health and wellbeing of babies and their mothers ‘Plunket’ remains a household word throughout the nation, suggesting that Lady Braithwaite’s links with child health may have smoothed the way for Boots’ business endeavours.
Boots’ first retail store outside England opened in Willis Street, Wellington, on 29 January 1936 in a building since demolished, a parliamentary select committee having agreed with Company representatives that two shops could be opened pending a full state inquiry. Although the firm’s products had been exported all over the world, prior to entry into the New Zealand market, Boots had not established retail outlets overseas.
The Auckland branch opened six months later in the former Graham’s Building, 104 Queen Street, a property later bought by Boots in 1939. Boots’ interior alterations were designed in 1936 by the Wellington architectural firm, Clere and Clere. The staircase remained within the rear of the building. Decorated plaster scotia and centre-pieces on the ceiling and cast iron columns with foliated capitals (ground floor) may have been part of the 1917 renovation. On the second floor, separate toilets were provided for the sexes. The remaining section of the roof light was closed over.
As at the Wellington store, a photographic section is likely to have been provided for a developing and printing service; and a small room for the measuring, fitting, and applying of surgical apparatus. Prescriptions were filled in a windowed booth open to public view. Although the staff serving behind counters along both ground floor side walls was predominantly male, the company provided new employment opportunities and a good career structure for women in a male-dominated industry.
A government policy was devised to reduce the number of pharmacies and the price of medication through licensing, a deliberate precursor to introduction of pharmaceutical benefits as part of a free-at-point-of-use health system instituted under the Social Security Act (1938). Boots was permitted to continue operating the two stores, but the Pharmacy Act of 1939 restricted expansion as all pharmacies had to be owned by a pharmacist.
Subsequent alterations to the Queen Street premises included the creation of openings in the north wall in 1957 to enable Winstone Limited to expand its offices from the adjoining Craig’s Building into Boots’ second floor - an alteration reversed in 1980. A mezzanine floor was provided within the rear portion of the ground floor in 1961, and various new shop fronts and shop ceilings installed over the ensuing years. At an unknown date the large window on the first floor façade was replaced with a timber-framed composite containing three windows and four transoms, an alteration more in keeping with the building’s early appearance.
The property was sold in 1991. The ground floor retail store remains in use as a pharmacy (2013), over eight decades after Boots first put the Queen Street building to such use.
The former D. Graham and Company’s Building is located on the east side of the Queen Street gully in the heart of Auckland’s Central Business District (CBD). Queen Street, Auckland’s main commercial thoroughfare, connects the harbourside and the Karangahape Road ridge. The street has a comparatively large number of late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century buildings, particularly on its east side and in narrow thoroughfares immediately to the east. A number were constructed in the boom years of the late 1890s and first three decades of the twentieth century. Some date to earlier periods. Queen Street and its associated area is notable for reflecting Auckland’s development as New Zealand’s main financial and commercial centre.
The former D. Graham and Company’s Building retaining its original three-storey form and substantial elements of its early-1860s colonial Italianate exterior is a rare contemporary of the marginally later Gilfillan’s Store (NZHPT Register No. 9581) and former Bank of New Zealand (Register No. 95), two Category 1 historic places dating from 1865 and 1866-7 respectively, a short distance to the north on the opposite side of Queen Street. Collectively these are the only known surviving remnants of 1860s streetscape in the city’s main commercial thoroughfare.
Graham’s Building is located within a block bounded by Shortland Street to the north, High Street to the east and Vulcan Lane to the south. The block forms part of a significant nineteenth- and early twentieth-century historical and cultural landscape, part of which has been formally recognised for its considerable historical significance and townscape and landmark qualities within the Vulcan Lane historic area (Register No. 7011).
The former D. Graham and Company’s Building erected in 1862-3 - the earliest-known surviving example of commercial architecture in Auckland’s main thoroughfare - is an important element of a notable group of four adjoining mid-to-late nineteenth-century commercial buildings fronting Queen Street.
The three northernmost structures were designed by the noted Auckland architectural practice Keals and Son and erected over a four-year period commencing 1878, over a decade-and-a-half after D. Graham’s Building. Above verandah level the three well-preserved exterior designs incorporating arched window openings, ornately-shaped decorated parapets, and moulded and incised plasterwork reflect the appeal of colonial Italianate-style influences in late-Victorian commercial Auckland.
Blackett’s Building (Register No. 4483, Category 1 historic place) to which a fourth storey was added in 1910 is visually dominant in the group. Erected on the prominent site at the corner of Queen and Shortland Street in 1878-9 as the head office of the South British Insurance Company Limited, the place is notable for its very great architectural quality.
The heritage significance of the adjoining externally well-preserved building at 94-96 Queen Street, erected in 1882 as two shops with offices above, has not been assessed to date. The similarly well-preserved Craig’s Building (Register No. 4484, Category 2 historic place) at 100 Queen Street, also dating from 1882, was a purpose-built nineteenth-century restaurant and displays exterior ornamental detailing not commonly found on surviving nineteenth- and early twentieth-century commercial buildings in Auckland.
The contrasting simplicity of the lightly decorated Graham’s Building reflects its early-1860s construction date. The three-storey building of similar overall scale to the three later buildings to the north contributes to the value of the group and the streetscape, notwithstanding modernisation of the first-floor windows. Rectangular-headed window openings on the second floor complement those on the upper storey of the building at 94-96 Queen Street, creating an alternating pattern within the group.
D. Graham and Company’s Building occupies a rectangular site of 209 square metres. The brick structure comprises three storeys and a basement. The mid-Victorian colonial-Italianate, stucco façade has a painted finish and incorporates pronounced long and short quoins.
At ground floor level is an entirely modern glass shop-front, and a modern suspended verandah. The upper portion of transoms extending above the verandah suggest the potential survival of earlier remnant fenestration.
The two upper floors retain the original centrally-located openings, although the window joinery and fenestration has been replaced on the first floor by three modern windows and four transoms. Embellishment associated with the original first-floor window-opening has been removed. A plain lintel replaces the original pediment.
The second-floor window opening retains the original triple bay configuration containing double-hung sashes and detailing including a moulded lintel and supporting brackets. The parapet incorporates an entablature with a metope trim under the lower edge, an original detail. The division between the two upper storeys is marked by a string course that incorporates a lugged sill immediately below the upper windows.
The south side wall is exposed brickwork. Plaster quoin-work extending back from the façade is visible towards the top. Two original window openings (one modified) towards the rear on the first and second floors are visible from Vulcan Lane.
The building has a hipped roof with corrugated cladding. The former location of the longitudinal light well is discernable in aerial photographs.
The hip roof is largely concealed by a parapet extending around the entire building.
The interior of the building has not been viewed.
The internal layout has been modified many times during the fifteen decades since the building opened as a drapery shop and warehouse showroom. The extent to which wall and ceiling linings conceal older material is unclear. It may not be possible to easily identify such materials from superficial inspection.
Information on the property file suggests that access to the basement has been closed off by flooring-over the stair, leaving a hatch for maintenance access.
The ground floor is in retail use, has modern linings and shop fittings, and an enclosed mezzanine of recent construction located towards the rear.
The single retail tenancy may utililse comparatively little of the rest of the building. The 1917 stair balustrade between the ground and first floors appears to have been demolished as part of wider fire rating work including the installation of fire stop doors in the 1980s.
The two upper storeys may retain timber floors. A timber ceiling may survive on the second floor.
1. Buildings associated with Auckland businessman David Graham (1822-73)
D. Graham and Company’s Building is a rare surviving commercial building commissioned and occupied by significant colonial businessman and entrepreneur David Graham, a person strongly associated with the development of early Auckland.
During the two decades from 1844 until circa 1865, Graham’s extensive business interests were operated and managed from four different premises in turn within the block bounded by Queen, Shortland and High Streets and Vulcan Lane. A new building erected on the south side of Vulcan Lane was Graham’s base from 1865 until his bankruptcy in 1868.
The earliest of the above premises was a two-storey building occupied from February to September 1844 on the south side of Shortland Street leading up towards High Street (possibly occupying the site to the west of Queen’s Lane). The structure in the latter location was demolished in 1878 to make way for Blackett’s Building (Register No. 4483, Category 1 historic place). Any surviving structures further to the east were destroyed by the 1920s South British Insurance Building (Register No. 121, Category 1 historic place) and its 1960s addition.
The second premises (occupied from late 1844 until August 1848) was the two-storey timber building at the corner of Queen and Shortland Streets, demolished for the new Blackett’s Building in 1878.
The third was a three-storey brick store constructed in 1848 on Shortland Street, adjoining the east boundary of Queen’s Lane. Victoria House, later known as Steers’ or the City Club Hotel, was demolished in 1889.
The fourth is the surviving D. Graham and Company’s Building (Former) at 104 Queen Street (1862-3).
The fifth, constructed in 1865 in Vulcan Lane opposite the Occidental and Queen’s Ferry Hotels, was occupied by the Ireland Brothers after 1868 and demolished in the 1920s.
Also within the CBD are two commercial buildings with an indirect association with David Graham, a founding member of the institutions they accommodated. These are the former Bank of New Zealand (Register No. 95, Category 1 historic place) 125-129 Queen Street constructed 1866-7 of which only the façade remains; and Webb’s Buildings in Fort Street. The latter, erected in 1861 and rebuilt in 1873, forms part of the former Imperial Hotel (Register No. 4593, Category 2 historic place) and was the location of the Auckland Gas Company offices at some time prior to 1882.
A 1850s store established by Graham in Waiuku no longer exists. In the unlikely event that a store built on the beach at Tauranga in 1871 survives, the significance of its association with Graham would not rival that of 104 Queen Street at the hub of his business enterprise.
Surviving physical elements of Graham’s private residence (The Tower) built in 1855, are incorporated within the former house of nineteenth-century Auckland merchant James McCosh Clark, now part of Kings Preparatory School at 258 Remuera Road.
2. Surviving commercial buildings within the core of the colonial capital
Constructed in 1862-3, D. Graham and Company’s Building (Former) is the earliest-known surviving example of commercial architecture in Auckland’s main street.
It is also one of comparatively few surviving commercial buildings erected prior to 1865 on or near the original foreshore in the lower Queen, Fort and Shortland Street area - the oldest part of the early colonial capital. Apart from the former Isaac’s Bonded Stores (Register No. 7819, Category 1 historic place) erected in Fort Street in 1864, other early-to-mid-1860s examples are less visually evident. Elements of Somerset House / George Graham’s Buildings (1861-2) - also in Fort Street - are encased within the former 1883 Imperial Hotel (Register No. 4593, Category 2 historic place). Everybody’s Building at 56 Queen Street (Register No. 4595, Category 2 historic place) probably retains part of a 1860s-1880s structure behind the façade.
The former D. Graham and Company’s Building and Gilfillan’s Store (Register No. 9581, Category 1 historic place) are the two earliest known commercial buildings surviving on Queen Street. Both retain their discrete visual identity and three-storey scale. The D. Graham Building erected in its entirety in 1862-3 precedes Gilfillan’s Store dating from 1865 to which a substantial rear addition was made in 1874. Both places reflect the phasing out of timber as the primary construction material in Auckland’s commercial centre in the late 1850s and early 1860s following its prohibition by the City of Auckland Building Act 1856.
Other known 1860s commercial buildings in streets off Queen Street in colonial Auckland’s CBD in addition to the former Isaac’s Bonded Stores include: the circa 1861 Bluestone Store at 9-11 Durham Lane (Register No. 2647, Category 1 historic place) a simple two-storey stone structure initially occupied by agricultural merchants and auctioneers; and potentially, the Queen’s Ferry Hotel, Vulcan Lane (Register 630, Category 2 historic place) dating from at least 1871 which may incorporate remnants of a late-1850s retail store converted to hotel use in 1865.
3. Group context
The former D. Graham and Company’s Building (1862-3) is the oldest in a notable group of four adjoining commercial buildings - the largest surviving assemblage of nineteenth-century buildings on Auckland’s Queen Street. A fifth building, a nineteenth-century brick structure of two storeys (erected 1878-9) at 108 -110 Queen Street on the adjoining site to the south is concealed by a twentieth-century façade incorporating aluminium joinery.
The northernmost building, the lavishly-detailed corner landmark Blackett’s Building at 90-92 Queen Street, is the earliest of three surviving adjoining designs by Richard Keals and Son, architects. Built in 1878-9 as the head office of the South British Insurance Company, a fourth storey was added in 1910. This Category 1 historic place is recognised for its great architectural quality. Exterior plaster detailing includes an example of plant motifs widely in use in the second half of the nineteenth century and was especially ornate for late-1870s Auckland.
The adjoining 94-96 Queen Street erected as a double shop for tenant Chapman (bookseller) and another retailer, is not registered (2014). Contemporary reports described the 1882 design as of Italian style and intended to resemble the neighbouring building (Craig’s) then under construction. Apart from the modern shop fronts at street level, the exterior appears unaltered.
Craig’s Building at 100 Queen Street was built in 1882 for established tenant St Mungo Café and is a rare known example of a purpose-built nineteenth-century restaurant (Register No. 4484, Category 2 historic place).. A relatively well-preserved example of the Keals’ work and notable for its distinctive ornamental detailing, the building retains its extremely ornate parapet and (unlike Blackett’s) has not been altered by the addition of a further storey.
Two decades older and of comparatively simple design, the former D. Graham and Company’s Building at 104-106 Queen Street represents an early surviving example of a colonial commercial building. As such it provides a visual contrast to the highly ornate Italianate exterior detailing of its three adjoining late-Victorian neighbours. Notwithstanding modernised first-floor windows, the three-storey Graham’s Building is of a similar scale and makes a positive contribution to the group and the streetscape. The rectangular-headed window openings of its third storey and those of the upper storey of 94-96 Queen Street provide an alternating contrast within the group.
4. 1860s streetscape values (D. Graham’s and Gilfillan’s stores)
The former D. Graham and Company’s Building is one of only two known surviving Queen Street commercial buildings designed in the first half of the 1860s. The other, the former Gilfillan’s Store (a Category 1 historic place) is located to the north on the opposite side of the street. Both were constructed as mercantile premises and represent the earliest surviving stage of Auckland’s commercial development.
Both buildings reflect an evolution from the Georgian-style commercial architecture of 1840s Auckland, to an emerging Italianate style the simplicity of which was in turn eclipsed by more ornate examples in later nineteenth-century commercial Auckland. Aspects of the D. Graham and Company’s Building reflect Graham’s earlier Georgian-style Victoria House (1848) demolished in 1889: the stucco façade, quoins, plain side walls, and an absence of arched window heads commonly associated with Italianate-style trading premises including Gilfillan’s Store. Identifiable Italianate features of Graham’s early-1860s Queen Street building include the centrally clustered arrangement of windows on the upper floor, associated plaster detailing including bracketed cornice, lugged sill within the string course between the second and third storeys, and pronounced parapet entablature.
The Italianate-style Queen Street exterior of Gilfillan’s Store is marginally less plain than Georgian-style brick buildings erected in the early period of Auckland’s developing business centre. Unlike the continuous façade of David Graham’s Queen Street building, the design of Gilfillan’s Store suggests three vertical bays and incorporates three arched windows (on the second storey).
The ground floor shop fronts of both structures have been extensively modified. On each of the two buildings, the windows on one of the two upper floors have been altered. Three conjoined windows on the first floor of Graham’s Building have been replaced by a twentieth-century timber-framed composite containing a large central sash between two narrower openings, and four transoms. The replacement of double sashes on the upper floor of Gilfillan’s Store by modern six-light frames (in which the two central panes are hinged) has had less visual impact on the overall design.
5. Surviving Designs by architect James Wrigley (1837?-82)
Other than churches or chapels, few designs by architect James Wrigley have been recognised through registration. They include substantial additions made in 1870 to the Northern Club Building (Register No. 663, Category 1 historic place); Hamurana (Register No. 7733, Category 1 historic place) an elite merchant’s house erected at 29 Princes Street in 1876; and the original 1865 portion of the former Carrington Hospital (Register No. 96, Category 1 historic place) all in Auckland.
Interior alterations pharmacy conversion; roof light-well closed over
Second floor, openings north wall to connect with adjoining building
Mezzanine added to ground floor
Various new shop fronts, fit-outs, internal partitioning, linings. Slate roof replaced with a corrugated cladding. Façade modified: window (1917) replaced
Staircase to basement closed over, north wall openings closed up
Lot 4 occupied by Boylan’s premises. Lot 5 occupied by boot-maker Andrew Rooney
1862 - 1863
Construction of D. Graham and Company’s drapery premises
Staircase added between ground and first floor. Split into three tenancies including a café
Professional offices created upstairs
Internal alterations to drapery
Water closets installed
Interior alterations, new banister; panelling, electric lighting. Façade modified: first floor windows replaced by one large window. South elevation: upper-storey window remodeled as fire egress door to Queen’s Lane
Scoria basement, timber flooring, brick walls, timber roof framing, (roof corrugated metal?)
Public NZAA Number
6th May 2014
Report Written By
G .W. A. Bush, 'Decently and In Order: The Government of the City of Auckland 1840-1971', Auckland, 1971
Cyclopedia of New Zealand, 1902
Cyclopedia Company, Industrial, descriptive, historical, biographical facts, figures, illustrations, Wellington, N.Z, 1897-1908, Vol.2, Christchurch, 1902
R. C. J. Stone, Makers of Fortune: A Colonial Business Community and its Fall, Auckland, 1973
C. W. Vennell, Risks and Rewards, A Policy of Enterprise 1872-1972: A Centennial History of the South British Insurance Company Limited, Auckland, 1972
Stone, R.C.J., Logan Campbell’s Auckland: Tales from the Early Years, Auckland, 2007
Stone, Russell, ‘Auckland Business, 1841-2004: Myth and Reality’, pp.232-244 in Hunter, Ian and Diana Morrow (eds), City of Enterprise: Perspectives on Auckland Business History, Auckland, 2006
A fully referenced Registration report is available from the 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.