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14-18 Broadway Avenue - Ansett House (Former T&G Building)

Ansett House

Building Details

Building Name:  Ansett House (Former T&G Building)
Address: 14-18 Broadway Avenue
Construction date: 1938
Architect: A & K Henderson (Mitchell & Mitchell, supervising architects)
Architectural style: Art Deco/Moderne
District Plan Category: 1
Building number: 2
Heritage NZ Category: 2
Building number: 7375

History

The Temperance and General Mutual Life Society was established in 1876 and took over the business conducted by the Assurance Branch the Independent Order of Rechabites in Melbourne.  Melbourne became the company's head office.  Expansion was swift. Operations were extended to New South Wales and South Australia by 1885.  The firm was established in New Zealand in 1903 and the company's local head office was located in Wellington. By that year there were nearly 700 agencies in Australasia.  Expansion in New Zealand was also rapid. Throughout Australasia in the 1920s and 30s the company erected many new buildings or replaced existing ones. Using the same company of architects, the Melbourne firm of A&K Henderson, a "house" style was developed including the distinctive T&G motif, the ziggurat tower. Palmerston North's T&G building was built toward the end of this period. When built the T & G building was the tallest in the city. It was notable for the very early use of fully automatic lifts and at the time of its completion was much lauded for its modem facilities. In recent years the name T&G has disappeared with the company's takeover by the National Mutual Life Insurance Co.

Architecture

The building is designed in the Inter-War Art Deco style; the style and ziggurat tower a symbol of T&G. The building's vertical emphasis, with Stripped CIassical elements, articulated skyline, and shallow wall planes, are typical of the style. The tower houses the stair and Iiftwell to the upper open plan floors. Unlike other T&G buildings, the Palmerston North building is not located on a corner, which would have allowed for greater prominence for the tower.

Architect

CH Mitchell (1891-1949) was born and educated in Wellington and began his architectural career with the firm of Atkins and Bacon in 1909. After a few years as a junior with the firm he went to London. He qualified as an architect in 1913 and was registered with the New Zealand Institute of Architects. At the same time he became Associate with the Royal Institute of British Architects.  In 1918 he returned to New Zealand and again worked for Atkins and Bacon.  He was made a partner shortly thereafter.  The following year Alfred Atkins died and R Bacon moved to Blenheim.  The firm, now known as Atkins and Mitchell, had to be rebuilt.  In 1922 AH Mitchell came to work for his brother.  He completed his studies in England in 1930.  After 1925 the firm of Atkins and Mitchell established itself as a major architectural firm in Wellington.  In 1932 A H returned to Wellington and was admitted to the firm as a junior partner.  The firm was known as Mitchell and Mitchell after this.  CH died in 19?? but the firm maintained the same title and continues to this day.  Some of the principal buildings designed by the firm were DIC Building, Wellington (1927), Commercial Travellers' Club, Wellington (1929), Wellington Central Fire Station (1934), Waterloo Hotel, Wellington (1936) and MLC Building (1938).  The firm also supervised the erection of the T&G Building in Wellington and Palmerston North.

Statement of Significance

The T&G Society was one of the biggest insurance companies in Australasia before it was incorporated in National Mutual. The extraordinary confidence shown by the company during the 1920s and 30's saw many large, architecturally eloquent buildings erected throughout both New Zealand and Australia. The Palmerston North branch reflects this confidence. When built it was probably the tallest building in the city. The distinctive T&G tower was a bold statement in the low-rise city and showed that the company considered New Zealand's provincial centres an important part of their business (a large domed office was built in Napier just two years earlier). The building is a landmark building in the urban design of central Palmerston North.

Sources
Building Permit Plans, PNCC (Microfilm file), 72/16-22
Building Permit Regiser, PNCC, Archives Series 4/13/1
NZHPT File, former T&G Building, Wellington 12009-180
Local History Photograph Collection, PNCC Public Library, (Photo; BC31)