NZ Clothing Company Limited Building (Former)

20 Dowling Street, Dunedin

  • NZ Clothing Company Limited Building (Former), Dunedin.
    Copyright: Heritage New Zealand. Taken By: Arielle Filippi. Date: 30/03/2021.
  • NZ Clothing Company Limited Building (Former), Dunedin CC BY-SA 4.0 Image courtesy of
    Copyright: Grutness - Wikimedia Commons . Taken By: Grutness. Date: 3/12/2018.
  • NZ Clothing Company Limited Building (Former), Dunedin.
    Copyright: Heritage New Zealand. Taken By: Rebecca O'Brien. Date: 5/05/2009.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 1 Public Access Private/No Public Access
List Number 2159 Date Entered 27th July 1988 Date of Effect 27th July 1988


City/District Council

Dunedin City


Otago Region

Assessment criteriaopen/close

Historical Significance or Value

Bendix Hallenstein was born in Brunswick in 1835 and came to New Zealand in 1863. He became a storekeeper and wool buyer in Queenstown and built a flour mill (1867) and the grand house of Thurlby (now an attractive ruin). He was Mayor of Queenstown (1869-72), on the Provincial Council (1872-75) and a Member of Parliament (1872-73). Having opened stores in Arrowtown, Cromwell and Lawrence he needed clothes to supply them without having to pay middleman. He began manufacturing in a building opposite the Cargill Monument beside the Bank of New Zealand in 1873 but soon found the premises too small and built the new factory in Dowling Street. By 1905 the factory was supplying 26 branch stores of HBs throughout New Zealand. They specialised in making men's and boys' clothing, using mostly female labour. The factory was much praised in its day for its good design and provision for the comfort and health of its workers.


This is considered to be the best of Dunedin's early warehouses (McCoy and Blackman 1968) and the façade is remarkably intact for such an early date as 1883.


An important building on Dowling Street with a well proportioned façade.


Construction Professionalsopen/close

Ross, David

David Ross (1827-1908) was one of a significant number of architects who came to New Zealand from Australia in the early 1860s prompted by the news of the Otago gold rushes. Born in Scotland, Ross worked in Victoria in the late 1850s before settling in Dunedin in c.1862, whereupon he entered into a brief partnership with William Mason (1810-97). After establishing his own practice, Ross designed the Congregational Church (1863-64), Dunedin's oldest ecclesiastical building, Fernhill house (1867) which is now home to the Dunedin Club, and the central wing of the Otago Museum (1876-77).

In the mid-1860s Ross worked briefly in Hokitika (1866) before returning to Dunedin and in 1870 he applied for a patent for the frames and apparatus required for the construction of works in concrete. This application lapsed but it is nevertheless significant as it places Ross at the forefront of the development of mass concrete construction in this country. In addition to his professional responsibilities David Ross was also a member of the first Dunedin City Council (1865-66) and in 1876 he became the first president of the joint Institute of Engineers and Architects in Otago. Ross may have returned to Australia in the early 1890s and it would appear that he spent the rest of his life living in the United States and Japan.

Additional informationopen/close

Physical Description


The style is classical, with arched and keystoned windows, large columns at street level, a rusticated wall on the first storey and pilastered windows on the second and third floors. There is some fine carving of flowers and leaves under the arches of the ground floor. There are three heavily bracketed cornices across the façade and a relatively simple parapet, which unlike so many parapets on Victorian buildings has remained intact, presumably because it is plaster and not Oamaru stone.


The façade today is almost identical to that of 1905 except for the addition of the first storey bridge over the alleyway. This was built to provide a board room beside the main offices. A modern door and window has been let into one of the ground floor window arches. The interior layout of the factory was modified first to allow the use of modern conveyor machinery and more recently to provide more office and warehouse space. Other than lower ceilings in the modern office space at the front of the first floor, the basic shell of the building (ceilings, floors, stairways, doors and window frames) is virtually unchanged.

Notable Features

The well designed and unmodified classical façade, and an unmodified structure. It is notable as one of Hallenstein's early factories.

Construction Dates

Original Construction
1883 -

Construction Details

The façade of this four storied building mostly in plastered triple brick but the detailed stone work of the ground floor is in Port Chalmers breccia. The building has a sixty foot frontage and runs back 200 feet with an alleyway on its upper side which was bridged by a matching façade at the first storey some time after 1905. The long side walls are made of rough dressed Leith Valley andesite up to the first floor and triple brick above. These walls have not been plastered, and have great character. The doorways and windows on the ground floor are framed in brick. The back of the building butts up against the rock of Bell Hill and the rear loading yard is walled on one side with ground rock. The roof is corrugated iron and has probably been replaced from the original. The ceilings of the lower floors are supported by round iron columns with ornate flared capitals, presumably to support the machinery on the factory floors above. Recent engineer's reports say that there has been no sign of shifting of wall supports. Interior walls were mostly tongue and groove panelling and ceilings plank and board.

The ground floor was designed as a bulk store and packing area adjacent to a loading yard and alley on the lower side of the building which also opened through to Burlington Street. A massive goods lift was installed and is still in working order. The front of the first floor contained the offices of the founder. Bendix Hallenstein, and his partners, Willi Fels, E Hallenstein and Henry Hart, with warehouse space at the back. The factory floors were above with a canteen for the workers. The upper floor was built as a wide gallery to let light from the skylights down on the factory floor below. The ceiling and skylights of the gallery are supported by an elaborate structure of wooden truss beams. A Crossley gas engine was installed behind the building on the solid rock of Ben Hill to generate power for the machinery. It was probably in the small structure which now houses an oil fired boiler. The builders were Meikle and Campbell.

Information Sources

Cyclopedia of New Zealand, 1905

Cyclopedia Company, Industrial, descriptive, historical, biographical facts, figures, illustrations, Wellington, N.Z, 1897-1908, Vol. 4 Otago and Southland, Cyclopedia Company, Christchurch, 1905

Other Information

This historic place was registered under the Historic Places Act 1980. This report includes the text from the original Building Classification Committee report considered by the NZHPT Board at the time of registration.

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.