Hastings Clock Tower.

Hastings, New Zealand (North Island)

The city of Hastings is approximately 18 kilometres south of Napier. The two are sometimes referred to as: ‘The Bay Cities’ or ‘The Twin Cities’, and in the future will possibly merge. The Hastings district is a prosperous food producing and processing area with fruit and vegetables and wine all key products.

Napier was not the only city destroyed by the powerful earthquake on 3 February, 1931. Nearby Hastings also saw the collapse of many buildings, though the ensuing fires were put out more promptly than in Napier. Ninety-three people died in Hastings, and like in Napier, the city centre had to be completely rebuilt. What this means today is that while the sea is a little farther away, Hastings is also a well preserved and brightly painted Art Deco paradise deserving of similar praise and accolades of the sort which too often only go to Napier.

Hastings Art Deco Building 1: Hastings Clock Tower

The entrance to the Hastings Clock Tower.

The main Post Office of Hastings and its clock tower were destroyed by the earthquake in 1931. In 1934 a nationwide architectural competition was held for a design for a new, freestanding clock tower. The winning design was created by a local architect, Stanley G Chaplin, and it was built in 1935. One historic feature incorporated within the new clock tower was the old Post Office bells which had been recovered from the wreckage of the old building.

Hastings Art Deco Building 2: State Theatre

Originally the State Theatre of Hastings.

Sitting at 124 Heretaunga Street East is the Art Deco State cinema, which became the Reading Multiplex Cinema in the 1990s and ran as such until 2012. It is a survivor and still functions as a cinema, most recently under the name: Focal Point Cinema & Cafe. The State Cinema, amalgamated in a building with shops and a billiards hall, was constructed in the early 1930’s for Dennis Donovan, a successful local businessman.

The initial building was designed by the architect JT Watson, while the cinema itself was designed by Wellington architect Edmund Anscombe, and a talented architecture student from Auckland named Vernon Brown. This was originally within the confines of a two-storey building, however the 1990s makeover into a multiplex quadruple cinema included the addition of a third storey. This addition may seem a bit top heavy, but that’s show biz, and if this cinema continues to survive then it may have helped the show go on.

Hastings Art Deco Building 3: Holden’s Buildings

Colourful exterior of Holden’s Buildings.

Holden’s Buildings survived 1931 earthquake with some damage and was repaired and run for a couple of years until 1933 when the owner John Holden decided to demolish and rebuild, perhaps to give his business a more contemporary Art Deco look. Situated at 200-206 Heretaunga Street East at the corner of Karamu Road, it consists of several shops and on the corner is Kippers East Takeaway shop.

Looming above the Kippers’ sign is one that spells out vertically: Nutters. This was neither a nut shop or something connoting crazy but rather a drapery shop owned by a man named Francis Nutter, who had been running the business in the corner shop of the original building. Nutters remained there until the 1960s. The architect of the new building was Albert Garnett, who followed the same lines as the first building in designing a one-storey update which was completed in 1934.

Not a nut shop… it’s for fish and chips.

Hastings Art Deco Building 4: Bank of New South Wales

Olive green pilasters with Art Deco capitals.

When the terrible earthquake struck in 1931 most of Hasting’s banks were knocked down, including the Bank of New South Wales at 129 Heretaunga Street. The bank had been there since 1884 and had already been rebuilt once after the calamitous 1894 Hastings fire when much of the business district was destroyed. Thus in 1936 a new building representing the branch opened to plans by Wellington based architects Crichton, McKay and Haughton. They appropriately chose stripped-classical and applied delightful Art Deco style Ionic capitals to its upper storey pilasters.

An inset window pilaster and capital.

Hastings Art Deco Building 5: Former Pharmacy

A continuous row of polychrome sunbursts.

The former Richardson’s Pharmacy on King Street has some fine decoration with polychrome chevrons and triangles.

Hastings Art Deco Building 6: Carlsson House

A study in beige: Carlsson House.

A long two-storey apartment block, Carlsson House features curving balconies and has some nice detail on the centre and corner parapets.

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