Salvation Army Fortress (Former)

37 Dowling Street, Dunedin

  • Salvation Army Fortress (Former), Dunedin.
    Copyright: Heritage New Zealand. Taken By: Sarah Gallagher. Date: 15/01/2019.
  • Salvation Army Fortress (Former), Dunedin. North Elevation of the Fortress showing the crenallated Gothic façade. The four small panes in the oriel window are engraved with the words (from east to west: Faith, Repentance, Salvation, Holiness).
    Copyright: Heritage New Zealand. Taken By: Sarah Gallagher. Date: 13/11/2018.
  • Salvation Army Fortress (Former), Dunedin. Eastern and northern elevations of the fortress showing the depth of the building.
    Copyright: Heritage New Zealand. Taken By: Sarah Gallagher. Date: 14/11/2018.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 2 Public Access Private/No Public Access
List Number 2215 Date Entered 2nd July 1982 Date of Effect 2nd July 1982


Extent of List Entry

Extent includes the land described as Sec 44 Blk IX TN of Dunedin (RT 108817), Otago Land District, and the building known as the Salvation Army Fortress (Former) thereon.

City/District Council

Dunedin City


Otago Region

Legal description

Sec 44 Blk IX Town of Dunedin (RT 108817), Otago Land District


An imposing building in Scottish baronial style, the Salvation Army Fortress (Former) is situated at 37 Dowling Street facing the Dowling Street Steps, in an area traditionally known to Kāi Tahu Māori as Otēpoti. The building has significant architectural, historical and spiritual value locally and nationally. It is the first Salvation Army Fortress barracks built in New Zealand and provided rooms for worship, education and social engagement until 1988 when the barracks were relocated to their current location on Princes Street. The building marks the beginning of New Zealand’s association with an international organisation that continues to provide places of worship and a wide variety of social services, welfare and education to the people of New Zealand.

The site has a history of being associated with community, having first been owned by a Friendly Society called the Independent Order of Odd Fellows of New Zealand (IOOF) in 1862. The Salvation Army’s presence in New Zealand was facilitated by Dunedin woman, Arabella Valpy, who wrote to William Booth, a Methodist minister who founded The Salvation Army with his wife Catherine in London, asking him to send members of his Army to help the poor and needy of Dunedin. The following year assistance arrived in the form of Captain George Pollard and Lieutenant Edward Wright from London; Pollard rented the Moray Street Temperance Hall for three years as a temporary headquarters. The Salvation Army’s mission was described in the Oamaru Mail as, ‘… to reach the degraded, the drunken, and the fallen, and they will go to their homes and haunts, and lure them out to services with singing and bands of music. From Dunedin they will send out officers, as these are enrolled, to other cities of the colony.’

In 1892 the land was purchased by Reuben Bailey, a Salvation Army Colonel. Plans for the Salvation Army to purchase the site must have been in process earlier though as architect Thomas Stoddart Lambert (1840-1914), who designed the Fortress, first called for tenders in May 1891. Lambert, a Scottish trained architect who moved to Dunedin from Christchurch, designed the Fortress in a castellated Gothic Scottish baronial style. Messers James Annand and Robert Johnston were contracted to build the Fortress within six months for £3200. The walls of the Fortress were unreinforced masonry with a corrugated iron roof. A retaining wall was erected on the rear boundary ‘with return walls and buttresses, also secured by railway rails to the solid rock … forming a yard.’ The building materials have been described as Port Chalmers stone for the plinths, Ōamaru stone for carved bosses, and Māori brand cement compo for the front elevation. The offices of the secretary, the major and the officer’s meeting rooms were either side of the main entrance. Behind this was the main meeting hall which could accommodate 670 people. Further rooms were placed behind the main hall for men, women and band practice. Concrete stairs at the front of the building led to the gallery on the first floor supported by iron columns with crown capitols. There was also a room for the Sunday School and beyond the gallery, a lower gallery or platform which was segregated for the sexes. In total, the building could accommodate 1368 people.

The Fortress was used by the Salvation Army as a meeting hall, Sunday School, practice rooms and office space. Following the long history of the land with community involvement, the building was then purchased by the Dunedin Masonic Club in 1991 and used as a meeting place, before being converted into apartments in 2011. The original façade of the building remains today and has been painted in a sympathetic colour scheme.


Construction Professionalsopen/close

Lambert, T S (1840-1915)

Thomas Stoddart Lambert (1840-1915) served articles and studied in Edinburgh before coming to Christchurch in 1874 where he worked for three years in Frederick Strouts' office. He established an independent practice in 1877 and rapidly gained a reputation as a sensible and economical architect. He designed a variety of structures including churches, warehouses, business premises and schools (serving as Education Board architect for four years). He was the architect for Christchurch's second Theatre Royal in 1876 gaining valuable experience for his commission to design the Tuam Street Hall five years later. The Odeon is now one of only few surviving examples of his many prominent inner city buildings. The Synagogue, 1880, Canterbury Farmers' Association Building, 1882, United Services Hotel, 1883, and Young Men's Christian Association Building, 1884, have all been demolished. In 1893 he moved from Christchurch and continued his practice in Dunedin and then Wellington.

Messers James Annand and Robert Johnston

No biography is currently available for this construction professional

Additional informationopen/close

Construction Dates

Original Construction
1892 -

- 1996
Converted to apartments

- 2011
Conversion to flats

Completion Date

29th May 2019

Report Written By

Heather Bauchop and Sarah Gallagher

Information Sources

Cyclopedia of New Zealand, 1903

Cyclopedia Company, Industrial, descriptive, historical, biographical facts, figures, illustrations, Wellington, N.Z, 1897-1908, Vol. 3, Canterbury Provincial District, Christchurch, 1903

Bradwell, 1950

Cyril Bradwell, An outline History of the Salvation Army in New Zealand, 1950, URL

Accessed 15 November 2018.

Other Information

A fully referenced upgrade report is available on request from the Otago/Southland Office of Heritage New Zealand.

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.