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42-50 George Street - Nash Building

Nash -Building

Building Details

Building Name: Nash Building
Address:  42-50 George Street
Construction date: Stage 1: 1925. Stage 2: 1929
Architect:  Stage 1: H Leslie Hickson, Stage 2: OA Jorgensen
Builder: Stage 1: unknown, Stage 2: Drinnan & Price 
District Plan Category: 2
Building number: 63 
Heritage NZ Category: Nil     

Physical and Social History 

This building was erected for Elizabeth Lily Nash, wife of long-time Mayor of Palmerston North (1908-1923) and Member of Parliament for Palmerston North (1918-1935), James Alfred Nash.[2] He and his firm are outlined in the story in this study of the one-time linked The Arcade buildings in Coleman Place and Cuba Street. He (and to some extent Elizabeth) is also the subject of a biography in Volume Four of The Dictionary of New Zealand Biography.[3]

The Nash Building began in 1925 as four shops with flats upstairs, and then a matching shop was added at the Cuba Street end in 1929. The join between the two is visible in the brickwork of the façade.

Prior History
CT WN31/270 was issued to Louisa Matilda Snelson, wife of George Snelson in 1882. She sold it to John Carmody, a local contractor, in 1889, and he in turn sold it to Elizabeth Lily Keogh, a Palmerston North spinster, in 1894. She then married James Alfred Nash on 14 February 1895.

In 1911, Mrs Nash leased part of the property for 37 years and 9 months (starting 6 July 1910) to Thomas John Rodgers, who was in the process of establishing the His Majesty's Theatre next door. Thereafter the lease of this alleyway (which is on Part-Lot 11, which has belonged to this property Louisa Snelson's time) and the granting of the right to use it, passed to the array of people and organisations associated with the neighbouring property, going to three members of the Fuller family in 1911; the Kairanga Auctioneering Company in 1925; The Palmerston Paramount Pictures and Albert Ernest Blackbourn the same year; and to William Robert Kemball in 1927.

The previous building on this site was probably another small block of shops, and certainly one of these was occupied for many years prior to the construction of this building (possibly since he entered this business in 1907) by the JA Nash & Co estate agents' office.

The Building

H Leslie Hickson designed the plans for the main part of this building, the tender notice being published on 10 August 1925. This described the work as being brick shops in George Street. The Building Permit was subsequently issued on 7 September 1925, with the building being valued at £4,700.

Photo St134 from the PN Library's photographic collection shows the upper façade of this building in its original four-shop form. The photo has been taken after a snowstorm, from the third floor of the CM Ross & Co building across the road. At the time, the future site of the neighbouring Andrews Building contained just a narrow single storey building, only the roof of which can be seen.

The second stage of this building took up the space between the original part and the Andrews Building. This narrow shop, which is about the same width as the others in the building, was designed by OA Jorgensen, who had just finished the Andrews Building next door.  Possibly this space had previously been a driveway - however, it was part of Lot 10, the main Lot on which this building stands. The tender notice for this building was published on 7 March 1929. It was described as a two-storied business premises of brick and concrete.  Its Building Permit was issued on 1 February 1929, and the value was £940. The successful tenderers were Drinnan & Price.[4] CT WN31/270 - and also the CT for the Andrews Building - records the establishment of part wall rights between the two buildings. This marks the construction to the Stage 2 building at the Cuba Street end of the main building.

Elizabeth Lily Nash MBE

In most cases in earlier times where a woman owned a property like this one, it was because her husband owned a business and the ownership of some properties, especially the family home, were placed in the wife's name to protect them should the business fail. However, Elizabeth Lily Keogh (as she was named on the CT) had already owned this property for at least six months prior to her marriage - as Elizabeth Lily Grater, nee Keogh - to James Alfred Nash at Palmerston North on 14 February 1895.

The Manawatu Times published her obituary on 16 June 1942, two days after her death: A life of useful activity was brought to a close on Sunday last by the peaceful passing of Mrs Elizabeth Lily Nash, wife of Mr JA Nash, of Western Avenue. Although of a retiring nature, the deceased lady was a great worker for the good of the community, ably filling her part in the public positions she was called upon to fill as wife of the Member of Parliament for over a quarter of a century and as Mayoress for 15 years. In recognition of her work at the time of the Great War she was awarded the MBE.

The late Mrs Nash was the second daughter of Mr and Mrs Keogh, of Dunedin, and was born in Birmingham, England. In her childhood days she visited New Zealand twice and America also before her parents decided to settle here. About two years ago she had a very severe nervous breakdown but later recovered to some extent. She then went with Mr Nash to Christchurch, but there she unfortunately suffered a relapse, and subsequently returned. About twelve months ago, the effects of the illness were then telling on her, and she has been a patient sufferer since then.

During the 15 years in which Mrs Nash was Mayoress of Palmerston North she took an active part in a large number of public matters which affected women. In the Great War, she was at the head of the parcels activities and other war work. She organised the Paddy's Market in connection with the war and at the time of the influenza epidemic was in charge of the depot at the Opera house for a period of five weeks. Among many other activities, Mrs Nash organised fetes and fairs to raise funds for a number of projects, included in these being paying off the balance of the debt on the Technical School, building the baths at the Boy's High School, paying off the debt in connection with the Garrison Band, and the erection of the women's annex at the Hospital. She was also deeply interested in raising funds for the nurses' chapel at the Hospital. She took a very keen interest in the Hospital Day collections of other years in Palmerston North, and when Mayoress she entertained each year the members of the council in a day's outing to Tiritea. When Mrs Nash was Mayoress the lakelet enclosure was instituted in the current form and she officiated at the opening of the bridge between the two pools. For this reason she was presented with a paid of silver scissors. Mrs Nash also secured the land for the Coronation Hall at Terrace End, the councillors at the time presenting her with a key at the official opening of the building.

Two sons were born to Mrs Nash, one being Mr James Leslie Nash, who is engaged in farming at Linton, and the other Dr Horace Webster Nash, of Lower Hutt. There are five grandchildren. The funeral will be of a private nature.[5]

AGS Bradfield's The Precious Years, records that: Mr Nash was always giving praise to his wife. He (Nash) wrote: "In 1918 when the influenza epidemic came upon us we had no fewer than 131 deaths in this town. Mrs Nash was in charge of the First Aid depot at the Opera House and she and her committee attended to those in distress, with medicines, clothing and stimulants. I thank God for having had such a woman for my wife and I have sadly missed her since her departure. It was a great honour when she received the MBE (in 1919)[6]

Subsequent Owners
After Elizabeth's death, the property was transmitted in 1943 to her two sons, James Leslie Nash and Horace Webster Nash. A new CT, WN548/84, was issued to them in 1949. In 1963, it was transferred to five women belonging to or connected to the Nash family, as tenants in common. Of these, one lived locally and two lived in England. The four shares (of a total of 15 shares) belonging to Maude Nash (who was the local woman) were transmitted to her executors, Rodney John Port and Grant Garfield Roberts, both Pohangina farmers, in 1978. On the same date the property was transferred to the present owner, Hugh Russell Farquhar, a surveyor of Palmerston North.

Additions & Alterations
Semi-legible documents held on PNCC Building Permit file G5/40-48 are possibly some of the original specifications for this building. The originals - and the plans themselves - were not located.

An application for a permit to install a sterilizing sink in what was then 50 George Street was applied for in 1980 by the business concerned's owner, Mrs M Thomson. Possibly this involved the Omni restaurant. An undated permit application was also applied for by Omni for a basin and sink.

The file contains a letter dated 6 November 1997 from OSA Consulting Engineers to the building's owner, Mr HR Farquhar, providing an assessment as to what was needed for the building in terms of earthquake strengthening. This indicated that the linings would need to be stripped off all the brick walls and that these then be sprayed with concrete - at a cost of $300,000 plus GST. There is no indication as to whether this was done.

On 3 April 1998, PNCC wrote to Cathren Ishbell re upgrading the building for earthquake risk and advised of changing legislation etc.

The Occupants
JA Nash had moved on to more important things in terms of his career by the time this building was erected. However, a tenant in the 1929 extension in the latter 1950s was the firm of land agents, CH Plumtree & Co, which advertised itself as the successor to Nash, Plumtree & Co. Also in the extension for perhaps almost three decades was Mrs Jeanette Arthur, who advertised herself as toilet specialist, while in 1933 she had been advertised as having ladies toilet rooms. Possibly she sold ladies toiletries, and there is no sign that she operated women's toilets in her shop. Two of the others shops also sold guns at various points.

Shop 1 - 48 George St - nearest Main St
Stones 1933 - William George Bentley, tailor
Wises 1936-44 - 66 (& 28) George St - Bentley's Ltd, tailors
Wises 1950-51 - 66 George St - De Cleene's, tailors
Wises 1953-54 - 66 George St - Grundy's Rental Cars (Grundy's firm also at 70 George St)
Wises 1957-60 - 66 George St - Nil
Photo ST134 1985 - 60 George St - Discoveries, craft shop
Now - 48 George St - DingXin International Ltd

Shop 2 - 46 George St
Stones 1933 - Robert Irvine, hat renovator
Wises 1936 - 28 George St - Gordon M Simes, chiropodist
Wises 1939 - 64 George St - Butler & Co, hotel brokers
Wises 1944 - 64 George St - William Butler & Co, bakers
Wises 1950-60 - 64 George St - Hanson's Sports Depot, sports equipment, guns, etc
Photo ST134 1985 - 58 George St - Cumin Clothing, fashion shop
Now - 46 George St - Guilty As Sin boutique clothing, (uses #46A on website)

Upstairs Flats - 46A George St
Stones 1933 - Miss Elsie MacLennan; Miss J McAnulty, department manager
Wises 1936 -  29 George St - Ms Ross
Wises 1939-44 - 62 George S - Ms Merle I Scoble (see also Union Bdgs, Coleman Pl)
Wises 1950-51 - 62 George St - Ms EB Ross
Wises 1952-53 - 62 George St - James O Neill; Rosvall Bros, electrician
Wises 1957 - not listed
Wises 1959-60 - 62 George St - BL Hambling; Ms M Scoble; -- Grant
Now - unknown

Shop 3 - 44A George St
Stones 1933 - Miss Mary Margaret Mousley, dressmaker & costumier
Wises 1936 - 33 George St - Mrs Millicent Smiter, draper
Wises 1939 - 60 George St - Mrs Kath Hickson, draper
Wises 1944 - 60 George St - Ms Alecia Smythe, dressmaker
Wises 1950-54 - 60 George St - Allan D Macdonald, electrical contractor
Wises 1957 - 60 George St - Rosvall Bros, electrical contractors
Wises 1959-60 - 60 George St - Lyall Loveridge, radio technician
Photo ST134 1985 - 54 George St - Nostalgee Children's Wear
2006-Now - 44A George St - Alladin's Cave Fashion Accessories

Shop 4 - 44 George St
Stones 1933 - A & W McCarthy, gunsmiths & sports depot, AH McCarthy manager
Wises 1936-39 - 35/58 George St - A & W McCarthy, sports dealer
Wises 1944-54 - 58 George St - IR Davy, pastrycook
Wises 1957-60 - 58 George St - Auto-Needs, motor accessory dealers
Photo ST134 1985 - 52 George St - Seiko watch shop
Now - 44 George St - Bruce McKenzie Educational Booksellers

Shop 5 - 42 George St - the 1929 extension - nearest Cuba St
Stones 1933 - Mrs Jeanette Arthur, ladies toilet rooms
Wises 1936-44 - 37/56 George St - Mrs J Arthur, toilet specialist
Wises 1950-4 - 54 & 56 George S - Mrs Jeanette Arthur, toilet specialist
Wises 1957-60 - 56 George St - CH Plumtree & Co (successor to Nash, Plumtree & Co), land agents
Photo ST134 1985 - 50 George St - Omni - The Food Place, an avante-garde restaurant
Mid-2000s - Zen Zan shop
Now - empty

Architectural Description 

No original plans are available from the PNCC archives so that a description of the planning, construction, and materials, other than the visible façade materials of render and brickwork, cannot be given.

The style of the building is Stripped Classical with simplified Classical details including a simple stepped parapet, cornice, sill apron, cross detailed windows and vents and fluted pilasters between the ground and first floors.  The shopfronts are a joy of original clear coated timber framing, leaded toplights, and tiled spandrels and pilasters.  The central front entry to the first floor is clear -coated timber glazed door with leaded toplight.

Statement of Significance 

This building has high local significance for historical and design values, representivity of building style and type andlevel of external authenticity. 

This building has high historic values in its connection to Elizabeth lily Nash, who owned and had it built and who was awarded the MBE for her public service during the First World War.  The building is also associated with two local architects, HL Hickson who collaborated with regionally significant AR Allen in designing the CM Ross Building and Oscar Jorgenson a well-known local architect. 

The original and later ownership and tenants reflects a moderate level of continuity as a typical pattern of similar commercial buildings throughout the city.

The building has moderate design values as a good representative example of the Inter- War Free Classical style.

The building has high design values as one of a number of buildings in the Cuba Street, George Street, Coleman Place, and The Square area which, when considered collectively, form a coherent group of buildings of a similar age, general style, form, use, and scale.

The building's street façade design has a high level of authenticity, particularly the original shopfronts.

[1] PNCC Schedule of Buildings and Objects of Cultural Heritage Value

[2] Ian Matheson, Council & Community: 125 years of Local Government in Palmerston North (Palmerston North, 2003), pp92, 99

[3] Jim Lundy, 'Nash, James Alfred', in The Dictionary of New Zealand Biography, Vol 4 (Wellington, 1998), pp. 370-371. A list of JA Nash's roles on various committees etc. - 21 of them, to that time - appears on his advert prior to the 1928 General Election (MES 12/11/1928 2[2])

[4]Manawatu Evening Standard 10 August 1925 2(2) & 7 March 1929 2(1); Building Permit Register, Vol 3, pp287, 382, PNCC 4/13/1, Ian Matheson City Archives, PN City Library.

[5]Manawatu Times 16 June 1942 2(4)

[6] AGS Bradfield, The Precious Years (PN, 1962), p59