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The Public Trust Office building before the earthquakes – a council heritage grant will kick-start what will be a multi-million-dollar restoration project

City council grant saves Christchurch heritage building

A central Christchurch heritage building will get a reprieve from almost certain demolition thanks to the willingness of its new owners and a significant Christchurch City Council grant.

WEB EXCLUSIVE

The former Public Trust Office building at 152 Oxford Terrace had been in grave danger of being demolished until new owners, Box112, stepped up and committed to restoring it to its former glory.

The city council has awarded the project a central city landmark heritage grant of $1.9 million to kick-start what will be a multi-million-dollar restoration project. A grant for the same amount was recently awarded to the purchasers of McLean’s Mansion in Manchester Street.

“This is exactly what the central city landmark heritage grant fund is intended for,” says deputy mayor Andrew Turner. “This grant will allow another significant heritage building to be saved from demolition. It’s a great outcome both for the building and for the wider Avon River Precinct in which it stands.”

Heritage listed

Mr Turner says that with the loss of so many of the city’s older buildings in the 2010 and 2011 earthquakes, preserving the few that remain is more important than ever.

The Public Trust Office building was designed by renowned architect Cecil Wood in a stripped-back classical style, with the main facade facing west to the Avon River. It is one of only two of Wood’s municipal buildings remaining in the city. It opened in 1925.

While it has had some alterations made to the interior over the years, the facade has remained largely unchanged. The building is listed as ‘highly significant’ in the council’s district plan and carries a Heritage New Zealand category 2 listing.

The building stayed in Public Trust ownership until 1997, after which time its upper floors were retained as office space and the ground floor was converted to include a restaurant and bar.

Buildings of significance

The building was seismically strengthened in 2009, but sustained significant structural damage in the earthquakes of the following two years. It is one of the few heritage buildings remaining on the east bank of the Avon River between Cashel and Gloucester Streets.

Mr Turner says the building is highly deserving of its ‘landmark’ status. “With the nearby Canterbury Club, and potentially Harley Chambers, it is part of a cluster of buildings of significance that add character and identity to this part of the central city, helping to ensure the area is grounded in the past, as well as looking to the future,” he says.

“We’re delighted to have been able to work with the incoming owners to secure a future for this building. It’s a really good outcome.”


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