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Heritage grants welcomed

Landmarks get helping hand

Published: 7 June 2018

Newton’s Espano Flats and the old John Courts Department Store (Whitcoulls) in the city centre have both been awarded funding to help protect their futures.

Both Category B historic heritage places, Espano is to get $10,600 towards a conservation plan to guide ongoing conservation work, and there is $6800 for the repair and re-installation of the clock on the Queen Street former department store.

Auckland Council’s Planning Committee approved $82,000 in funding from the 2017-18 Regional Historic Heritage Grants Programme.

Chair Chris Darby said eight of 25 applications were approved. “The grants programme encourages Aucklanders to be more involved in the care of heritage sites and places. The successful projects include some of Auckland’s iconic heritage buildings.”

Waitematā Local Board deputy chair Shale Chambers said the Espano, sitting atop the Spanish Stairs overlooking Myers Park, is a city landmark.

“Hundreds of thousands of us must have taken those steps and admired the beautiful building at the top, and anything that protects it for future generations is to be welcomed.

“Espano is one of the most significant buildings in the park while restoring the clock to Queen Street will be like welcoming back an old friend.”

The land for Myers Park was gifted by the Myer family, and the flats were built in 1927-28 on the site of what was the Nathan family – the developers of St Kevin’s Aracade – tennis court, on what had become Poynton Terrace.

 They were designed in the Spanish Mission style by Arthur Sinclair O'Connor, an Australian who arrived in New Zealand about 1908, and remain an excellent example of early urban apartment-style living coming to the developing city.

One of the biggest influences of the time was the cinema, and people wanted to emulate film stars who lived in Spanish Mission mansions. The setting of the block of 12 self-contained flats among the park’s greenery reinforced that glamorous image.

O’Connor died suddenly in 1943 aged 59, after operating his practice since 1935 from Civic House.

He designed many inner-city apartments, including the Radnor, Middle Courtville, Westminster Court and Brooklyn Apartments. His commercial work included the Keans Building, Civic House and Fergusson Building, all on Queen Street.

Epsom’s Lido (then the Regent) is another of his buildings, and he was also the architect for the Orange Coronation Hall in Newton Road and Otahuhu’s Church of England in 1931.

Other projects to receive funding are:

  • Christ Church, Ellerslie ($20,000) to restore and maintain the stained glass windows
  • Former Onehunga Post Office ($10,000) towards completion of a structural upgrade
  • Minniesdale House, Rodney ($15,000) for the replacement of the roof
  • Selwyn Anglican Church, Mangere ($4000) towards revising the conservation plan
  • 19 King Edward St, Mt Eden ($5600) for mortar reinstatement and repair of mortar joints
  • William Granger's Brick House, Whitford ($10,000) to replace the roof.