Napier 2

Napier Art Deco Building 8: Government Building

This is a former New Zealand Government building.

Originally a government building, it was designed by a Wellington-based architect named John Thomas Mair, who was born in Invercargill. He became architect to the Department of Education, after which he was appointed Government Architect in 1923, a post he held until 1941. Always open to change in his profession he deftly stepped into the new Art Deco inspired Napier and produced an appropriate government building. Situated at 21-23 Browning Street it later became the Ministry of Works building and remained so for many years. JT Mair designed it as a symmetrical, stripped-classical building in 1936, but its construction was not completed until 1938. On the plaza in front is an Art Deco lantern on a fluted, classical column.

Napier Art Deco Building 9: Hayne’s Butcher’s/Public Trust/ Charleston Pharmacy

In its second incarnation as the Napier Public Trust

There is some potential for confusion here as one of the original buildings of central Napier that survived the earthquake was the purely neo-Classical 1921 Public Trust Office at 100 Tennyson Street, designed by Hyland & Phillips. This is a fine building but it is mistakenly listed as Art Deco. At some point in time the Public Trust moved from there into the 1932-33 building on Emerson Street which was originally the Art Deco Hayne’s Butcher’s shop. It was designed by the architect JA Louis Hay. Hayne’s Butcher’s were still in business there up until at least the 1970s. This building features some superb spiral motifs in which one can clearly define a Maori flavour, yet in which one can also see the original French spiral forms, a meeting of cultures. Recently, however, the Public Trust moved out, and the Hayne’s Butcher’s façade has now been restored. It is now occupied by the Charleston Pharmacy.

Hayne’s Butcher’s building decoration.

Napier Art Deco Building 10: Tennyson Chambers

Tennyson Chambers

You find Tennyson Chambers at 54 Tennyson Street and its detailing has given it to association with some of Frank Lloyd Wright’s work. Tennyson Chambers was another building designed by a local firm, this one named Charles Tilleard Natusch & Sons. The exterior detailing, in particular the geometric capitals, was created by James Augustus Louis Hay, a Natusch employee. Louis Hay was also a local, though born in the South Island, in Akaroa. He moved to Napier with his family in 1895. Tennyson Chambers is a modest, yet stylish one story building which was completed in 1932.

A detail from Tennyson Chambers.

Napier Art Deco Building 11: Scinde Building

Façade of the Scinde Building.

The Scinde Building is also in Tennyson Street at number 71. It had more than one local architect involved, namely EA Williams, working with HA Westerholm in 1932. After this initial phase HA Westerholm teamed up with Walter Phillip Finch to create a new firm of architects and they did more work on the Scinde Building in 1933. This is a symmetrical, one storey building with a variety of decorative elements with panels below the windows and above the central entrance, and crowned by a roofline frieze.

A detail of the Scinde Building in Napier.

Napier Art Deco Building 12: Abbott’s Building

The Abbott’s Building is a long, two-storey edifice.

Sitting atop six ground floor shop fronts is Abbott’s Building at 6-18 Hastings Street. The architects listed are JA Louis Hay and DB Frame. It seems likely that the main façade was handled by Louis Hay, given the obvious connection to Frank Lloyd Wright and the Prairie School, with its horizontal lines and deep set windows grouped in bands along them.

Napier Art Deco Building 13: Halsbury Chambers

Halsbury Chambers

Located at 74 Tennyson Street the one-storey Halsbury Chambers building is only a short distance from Tennyson Chambers at 54 Tennyson Street. They both came from the same architect, Louis Hay, are about the same size, and were both completed in 1932. Halsbury Chambers, however, shows no sign of Hay’s penchant for Frank Lloyd Wright inspired designs, and is instead based on classical forms.

Napier Art Deco Building 14: Rainui Flats

Rainui Flats

Overlooking the beach and the sea at 541 Marine Parade are the 1938 Rainui Flats, a symmetrical Streamline Modern apartment block. This style was globally popular by the late 1930s and this two-storey building is a fine example of it with its curved bays and balconies. It was designed and constructed by WJ Green. Sitting to the south of the city centre buildings it carries the Art Deco theme along the Marine Parade where it is visible to anyone enjoying the promenade.

Napier Art Deco Building 15: Suburban House

A typical suburban Art Deco bungalow.

There are still plenty of suburban bungalows in the suburbs of Napier. This one has its boxy quality alleviated by the diagonals of the window awnings and the bar and circle motif just below the roofline.

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