Cromwell Kilwinning Lodge No 98

69 Melmore Terrace, Cromwell

  • Cromwell Kilwinning Lodge No.98, Cromwell. CC BY-SA 4.0 Image courtesy of
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  • Cromwell Kilwinning Lodge No 98, Cromwell. Image courtesy of
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  • Cromwell Kilwinning Lodge No.98, Cromwell. Gate detail CC BY-SA 4.0 Image courtesy of
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List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 2 Public Access Private/No Public Access
List Number 2130 Date Entered 22nd June 2007 Date of Effect 22nd June 2007


Extent of List Entry

Registration includes the land in certificate of title OT151/202 and the pillars, fence and gate, and the building and its fixtures and fittings, thereon. (See plan in Appendix 4 of the Registration Report).

City/District Council

Central Otago District


Otago Region

Legal description

Secs 13-14 Blk IV Town of Cromwell, and Lots 1-3 DP 1891 (RT OT151/202), Otago Land District


The Cromwell Kilwinning Lodge No. 98 was founded in 1869 for the Freemasons of Cromwell, with the Lodge building constructed in 1900. The Lodge is a small but impressive building, constructed of local stone set in the old part of Cromwell, immediately adjoining 'Old Cromwell Town' which is the surviving section of the largely flooded historic Cromwell business district. The Lodge has provided a meeting place for its members for over 105 years.

Assessment criteriaopen/close

Historical Significance or Value

Historical Significance

The Lodge demonstrates historical values as the Freemasons have operated for nearly 150 years in Cromwell and for 105 from this building. The Lodge is one chapter in the history of Freemasonry in Otago, and New Zealand in general, and is an important element in the history of Cromwell. In addition it is one of only a few of old Cromwell's town buildings still standing on its original site.

Architectural Significance

The Lodge has architectural significance. The Lodge is a small but impressive structure with an ornate façade. The façade features the traditional symbols of Freemasonry, the square and compass, giving an indication of the purpose of the building. Its careful detailing and imposing appearance give an indication of the cultural importance of Freemasonry. Its builder, stonemason William Gair, is notable for many schist buildings he constructed in the region. The construction in local stone ties it to the typical vernacular materials of Central Otago.

Cultural Significance

The Lodge has cultural significance. This is a prominent building with ties to a chapter of the Freemasons which link to the 1860s gold mining era in Cromwell. The building demonstrates the culture and importance of the Masonic Lodge from the first years of gold mining in Central Otago, when men prominent in the local business community were also active in the Masonic Lodge and the construction of this building.

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

The Cromwell Kilwinning Lodge No.98 represents the historical importance and presence of the Masonic Lodge during the early years of Central Otago gold mining when the Lodge played an important role in the town's formation. The building demonstrates historical values as it is one of Cromwell's significant historical buildings.

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

The members of the Masonic Lodge hold it in high esteem for its history as part of their order, and the broader Cromwell community also values the building as it forms an integral part of the buildings on Melmore Terrace, many of which are now part of the Old Cromwell Town historic precinct. This value is shown by its inclusion in local pamphlets describing the significant surviving buildings in old Cromwell.

(e) The community association with, or public esteem for, the place:

The Lodge has an association with prominent members of the local community, such as Vincent Pyke, David Jolly, William Foreman, and William Bell. The involvement of such individuals demonstrates the important role the organisation played in the community when the mutual support was vital in the early years of settlement when there were no wider welfare provisions, and where Lodges and Friendly Societies often played this role. The Lodge also demonstrates the significance of the ideas of the Masonic Lodge in New Zealand's history. The organisation values the principles of integrity, goodwill and charity as the foundations for an individual's life and character. The Masonic Lodge is one of the world's oldest and largest fraternal organisations and is heavily involved in supporting charity and community service.

(k) The extent to which the place forms part of a wider historical and cultural complex or historical and cultural landscape:

The Kilwinning Lodge, standing on its original site in Melmore Terrace and neighbouring the historic precinct of Old Cromwell Town, forms an important part of the cultural and historical landscape of Cromwell and its environs.


Construction Professionalsopen/close

Grant, William

William Grant is described by local historian James Crombie Parcell as a carpenter, but gives no further biographical information.

Gair, William (1851-1944)

William Gair was born in the Shetland Islands in 1851 and arrived in New Zealand in 1878. He was a stonemason and plasterer by trade, but also tried his hand at farming and gold mining. He returned to his trade, setting up business in Cromwell. He was involved with the Borough Council and the local Presbytarian Church. He died on 4 February 1944.

Additional informationopen/close

Historical Narrative

The history of the town of Cromwell is intrinsically linked with the history of the discovery and mining of gold in Central Otago.

Gold mining began in Central Otago with Gabriel Read's discovery of gold in Gabriel's Gully, near present-day Lawrence, in 1861. The following year Hartley and Reilly left this gully and travelled further into Central Otago. They spent the winter prospecting in the now-flooded Clutha Gorge between present day Clyde and Cromwell, finding enough gold to precipitate a rush to the area. Cromwell, at the northern end of the gorge and only a mile or so from Hartley's claim, was first known as The Junction, for its location on the junction of the Kawarau and Clutha Rivers. The town was surveyed in 1863, and given its official name of Cromwell by its Irish surveyor, Connell. Cromwell was declared a municipality in 1866, when it had a population of 470.

By the early 1860s Cromwell had started to become a settled community: local government institutions, schools, churches and social institutions were formed. Social life was centred on clubs and societies, including concert groups, bands, a chess club, and various Friendly Societies and lodges. The first Friendly Society was a Foresters' Lodge founded on 2 March 1868. These lodges had strong membership and were a focus for social activities such as galls and picnics. Freemasonry is a ritual based, male only benevolent institution, which promotes ethical conduct and mutual support for its members. It was first practised in New Zealand in 1842. The movement grew out of trade and guild organisations in England in eighteenth century and provided mutual social support for members. The Lodge was the basic unit of organisation, with each Lodge managing its own affairs. Each Lodge followed the same ceremonies, procedures and rituals, and aimed at providing charity for members and others. Visits to other Lodges were an important part of membership, promoting business contacts, community participation and friendships. Lodges were prominent parts of the social landscape in goldfields Otago, with their activities noted in newspapers, and a Lodge being present in many of the small towns. There has been little analysis on their role or contributions to the community.

The Freemasons of Cromwell decided to found a Masonic Lodge at the end of 1869, and on 31 March 1870 met at Smitham's Hotel where the chapter was consecrated by Vincent Pyke. As with other Lodges and Friendly Societies it met at the Athenaeum Hall. The Lodge was dormant in the mid 1880s, but revived with vigour in the 1890s. According to local historian James Crombie Parcell, the newly energised lodge was able to erect its own hall in 1895. A later publication indicates the new building was opened in 1900. In common with other Lodge buildings, the Lodge building provides privacy for the activities undertaken within: The architecture was consistent with the Freemason architecture - reflecting the need for members to be drawn apart from the rest of the world and shielded from prying eyes. Lodge buildings were generally very discreet and gave no sign of the purposes or activities within. The main hall of the Lodge was used for ceremonies, and there was often another room used for "convivial" activities.

According to local sources James Stuart of the Victoria Hotel donated the land on which the building stands. Early certificates of title show that George Brown Aitken was first owner of the land on which the lodge was built. Aitken sold the land to James Stuart in 1883. After Stuart's death in 1899 his widow Susan Stuart transferred the title to lodge members William Bell, William Foreman and David Jolly in 1907.

Those listed on the title were prominent members of the community. William Bell (1840-1927) was born in Ireland, arriving in New Zealand aboard the Aldinga, and travelling to the goldfields in Otago and the West Coast. He settled in Cromwell, where he first bought the Bannockburn coal mine, and later moved to Tarras where he owned a farm. William Foreman worked for the prominent dredging company Hartley and Riley. He was a founding member of the company, which along with two other partners was floated, with all shares taken up by 1898, and which operated with reasonable returns until 1913. Scottish born David Jolly (1842-1916) had settled in the town in the early 1860s as a gold miner, and by 1870 was running his own successful storekeeping business, and playing a prominent part in local politics - he served several terms on the borough and county councils, was mayor for a number of years, and involved in the Masonic and Oddfellows Lodges, all sporting clubs as well as the Volunteers. A local history suggests 'he may well be said to have been a foundation member in every institution the town possesses'.

The Lodge was built by W. Grant, with the stonework completed by William Gair. Gair was born in the Shetland Islands in 1851, arriving in New Zealand in 1878. A local history describes him as a stonemason and plasterer, with many local buildings bearing “eloquent testimony to his skill.”

Little is known about the intervening history of the Lodge.

In the 1970s the government developed plans to flood the Clutha Valley in a scheme for power generation. While many of Cromwell's residents were dismayed by these plans that involved submerging a large part of their town, in 1992 the flooding finally took place. Much of the original town in Melmore Terrace, built close to the banks of the Clutha, disappeared under Lake Dunstan, with a new township being constructed on a higher terrace closer to State Highway 8B. The Masonic Lodge, along with its neighbour Murrell's cottage, were two buildings unaffected by the flood. Prior to the flooding of the town a group of residents formed the Old Cromwell Society with the aim of reconstructing some of the town's early buildings in the higher part of Melmore Terrace. The Cromwell Kilwinning Lodge No.98 is included in the Old Cromwell Town pamphlet which aims to recognising representative buildings from the original town, and encouraging their future preservation.

The Lodge now stands on the edge of this historic precinct in the company of its reconstructed neighbours, still used by the Cromwell Kilwinning Lodge No. 98 N.Z.C.

Physical Description

The Cromwell Kilwinning Lodge No.98 sits on high ground on Melmore Terrace in the old part of Cromwell in Central Otago. The Lodge overlooks the reconstructed 'Old Cromwell Town' which recreates the main business street of the town which was drowned when Lake Dunstan was formed as a result of the construction of the high dam down river at Clyde.

The Lodge is a small but impressive single storey, rectangular plan structure with an ornate façade. It is constructed from local stone, shaped and brought to course.

The façade has a portico with a segmental portico above. This is mirrored by a larger segmental portico above the cornice of the main body of the Lodge. Acroteria decorate the pediments and the Masonic symbol of the square and compass appears in the centre of both the pediments. The windows flanking the portico feature triangular pediments, and are the only windows in the building. Stone work above the door indicates that the building was completed in 1900.

The street frontage of the section has an ornate cast iron fence with a matching gate and pillars that complements the building and is included in the registration.

The interior is divided into two main rooms - the lobby, and the meeting room. The main entrance is on the south elevation and opens into the rectangular lobby room. There are two double hung sash windows on the south wall. The lower part of the wall of lobby is match-lined with tongue and groove timber, the upper part is plastered. There is a fireplace on one wall. Two four-panelled timber doors on the north wall provide access to the meeting room. The ceiling is also match-lined.

The meeting room is an open windowless hall. In common with the lobby, it is match-lined on the lower part of the wall, as is the vaulted ceiling. The intervening portion of the wall is papered with a decorative wallpaper and frieze. The ceiling is painted to resemble a night sky, with clouds giving way to a clear starry sky at the highest point of the ceiling. There is what appears to be a skylight well (possibly the site of an earlier lantern) in the centre of the ceiling.

There is a concrete lean-to addition on the north elevation. This houses the kitchen and toilet facilities for the lodge.

Construction Dates

Original Construction
1900 -

Lean-to addition added

Construction Details

Stone with a corrugated iron roof.

Completion Date

22nd June 2007

Report Written By

Heather Bauchop

Information Sources

Bevins, 2001

Alan B. Bevins, A History of Freemasonry in North Island New Zealand, Auckland, 2001

Curl, 2002

James S. Curl, The Art and Architecture of Freemasonry: An Introductory Study, London, 2002

Gilkison, 1978

R. Gilkison, Early Days in Central Otago Whitcoulls, Christchurch, 1978

Parcell, 1951

James C. Parcell, 'Heart of the Desert: A History of the Cromwell and Bannockburn Districts of Central Otago', Christchurch, 1951

Other Information

A fully referenced registration report is available from the NZHPT Otago/Southland Area 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.