Friday, 24 October 2014

Auckland's Town Hall

The Heritage Images database has a marvelous feature called ‘Through the decades’ that shows how a building and its surroundings change over time. Some of the significant places featured include Albert Park, the Ferry Building and in its prominent Queen Street location, the Auckland Town Hall -- a building of cultural significance noted for its unusual shape. It has been described as “a wedge of cheese or a decrepit flat iron.”

The dozen photographs in the 'Through the decades' section document significant aspects of the Hall's history from its construction in 1910, to the creation of Aotea Square in the 1970s.

Ref: Hubert Vaile, The Auckland Town Hall under construction,
1910, Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, 2-V1409
Ref: Henry Winkelmann, Auckland Town Hall from the corner of Wakefield Street, with
the Grey statue, 28 January 1921, Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, 1-W1746

Interestingly, a piece of land between Kitchener and Lorne Streets (across the road from the Art Gallery) was designated as a site for the Town Hall but was rejected. In 1905, the council purchased the current Queen Street site and designs for the new building were welcomed. Forty-six anonymous designs were submitted. The successful firm was a well-known Australian company, JJ and EJ Clark, designers of the Melbourne Treasury building.

Ref: Auckland City Council, The Beatles at the civic reception in front of the Auckland Town Hall,
August 1964, Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, 580-10702
Ref: John Daley, The Town Hall in Queen Street (centre) and Aotea Square under construction including what is now the Civic carpark, 1974, Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, 7-A13629 
Ref: Auckland City Council, The Town Hall (left) and Aotea Square completed, January 1981,
 Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, 580-81005-A5
The Town Hall - constructed out of Oamaru limestone and Melbourne bluestone is seen as an example of Italian Classical Revival Architecture. It was opened on 14 December 1911 by New Zealand’s governor, His Excellency Baron Islington.

Further reading: Auckland Town Hall: Cultural Significance, Auckland City Council Architectural Division and Ministry of Works, 1998.

Author: Joanne Graves, Central Auckland Research Centre


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