University of Otago Staff Club

Union Street, Dunedin

  • University of Otago Staff Club, Dunedin. CC BY-SA 3.0 Image courtesy of .
    Copyright: Benchill - Wikimedia Commons. Taken By: Benchill. Date: 19/09/2009.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 1 Public Access Private/No Public Access
List Number 2230 Date Entered 27th July 1988 Date of Effect 27th July 1988


City/District Council

Dunedin City


Otago Region

Legal description

Pt Lot1 DP8790 & Lot4 DP9986 & secs 11/20 pts1/2 10 DP1649 etc

Assessment criteriaopen/close

Historical Significance or Value

Otago University was opened in 1871 and is the oldest of the New Zealand universities. This was the first major building occupied by New Zealand's Dental School and was built specifically for it in 1907. The building was far too small and the piecemeal additions suggest that the training of dentists did not have high priority at the time. In 1929 the Dental School moved in a much larger three storied building on Great King Street, closer to the Medical School. This building was modified to accommodate the Registry and the WEA. The Law Faculty occupied it between 1966 and 1980 and the Staff Club since 1980.

Architectural Significance:

Although this building is across the Water of Leith from the main part of the University complex, it is visually well related to it. The Gothic complex of University buildings built between 1878 and the 1920s constitutes a major example of nineteenth and early twentieth century Gothic in New Zealand, impressive in its size and completeness.

Townscape/Landmark Significance:

The Staff Club building has an important frontage on to Union Street and is the first Gothic building seen as the complex is approached from the west.


Construction Professionalsopen/close

Anscombe, Edmund

Anscombe (1874-1948) was born in Sussex and came to New Zealand as a child. He began work as a builder's apprentice in Dunedin and in 1901 went to America to study architecture. He returned to Dunedin in 1907 and designed the School of Mines building for the University of Otago. The success of this design gained him the position of architect to the University. Five of the main University buildings were designed by Anscombe, as well as Otago Girls' High School and several of Dunedin's finest commercial buildings including the Lindo Ferguson Building (1927) and the Haynes building.

Anscombe moved to Wellington about 1928 and was known for his work as the designer of the Centennial Exhibition (1939-1940). Anscombe had travelled extensively and had visited major exhibitions in Australia, Germany and America. The practice of Edmund Anscombe and Associates, Architects, had offices in the Dunedin, Wellington and Hawkes Bay districts, and Anscombe's buildings include the Vocational Centre for Disabled Servicemen, Wellington (1943), Sargent Art Gallery, Wanganui, and several blocks of flats including Anscombe Flats, 212 Oriental Parade (1937) and Franconia, 136 The Terrace (1938), both in Wellington. As well as being interested in the housing problem, Anscombe held strong views concerning the industrial advancement of New Zealand.

(See also )

Salmond, James Louis

James Louis Salmond (1868-1950) was born in North Shields, England. He was educated at Otago Boys' High School and began his career articled to Robert Arthur Lawson (1833-1902). Salmond initially practised on his own account but later rejoined Lawson in partnership. Salmond took over the practice when Lawson died in 1902.

Salmond was the architect of over 20 churches in Otago including the Presbyterian churches at Roslyn, Kaikorai, North Dunedin and the Wesleyan church at Mornington. He designed many private residences including Watson Shennan's house at 367 High Street, as well as those at 114 Cargill Street and 14 Pitt Street, all in Dunedin.

Salmond was president of the Otago Art Society, and also served a term as president of the New Zealand Institute of Architects.

His son Arthur joined the firm having studied in London and his grandson John continues to work in the firm today. It is now known as Salmond Anderson Architects.

Additional informationopen/close

Physical Description

Architect/Engineer or Designer:

The architects were James Louis Salmond for the first part, E Anscombe for the extensions and Miller and White for the alterations in 1929.

Architectural Description (Style):

Anscombe followed the style set by Bury, influenced by Sir George Gilbert Scott's design for Glasgow University built in 1870. Bury improved on Scott's design with more lively Gothic details. This smaller building had wider windows with broad pointed arches which do not have stonework tracery.


Besides the exterior alterations listed the interior has been modified so many times that it is difficult to discern the original floor plan of the building. A balcony has been added for the Staff Club.

Notable Features

The strongly designed stonework in contrasting black and white stone and its historic association with the Dental School.

Construction Dates

Original Construction
1907 -
The South end of the building was completed

1909 -

1921 -

1922 -

1929 -
Interior modified for Registry

1966 -
Interior modified for the Law Faculty

1980 -
Interior modified for the Staff Club

Construction Details

The south half was constructed in Leith Valley andesite with slate roof and the 'temporary' north end was originally rough cast and corrugated iron. During renovations about 1950 the roof was entirely covered with orange tiles and the temporary work at the north end tidied up, the plaster being painted gray with white markings to imitate the pattern of the stone work. The massive front doors and some of the joinery around the hall, stairway and passages have been retained but otherwise the interior is heavily modified.

Information Sources

New Zealand Historic Places Trust (NZHPT)

New Zealand Historic Places Trust

J Stauchen, NZHPT Assessment Report, 1973

Stacpoole, 1976

John Stacpoole, Colonial Architecture in New Zealand, Wellington, 1976

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.