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195-199 Cuba Street - Snelling Building

Snelling -Building

Building Details

Building Name:  Snelling Building (now Harris Meatmarket and others)
195-199 Cuba Street
District Plan Category: Street Character 8
Building number: 100

Stage 1
Construction date: 1902-3 rating year (or early 1928)
Architect: Unknown
Original Owner: Herbert R Brewer (or GL Snelling)
Builder: Unknown

Stage 2
Construction date: 1928
Architect: Unknown
Original Owner: GL Snelling
Builder: NM McLean
Description: The exterior of Stage 1 (butcher's shop) has white tiles, while Stage 2 has grey tiles.
Street Character: 8

Physical and Social History

It is not clear who built the first stage of this building - the butcher's shop on the corner. However, it is likely that it was built during the 1902-3 Rating year, and then has been modified gradually to the stage it was at in 1928, where it appears on the plans for Stage 2 as an existing shop. A very similar building to the present one appears on this site in the pre-1910 photo STC14 of Cuba Street held by the PN Library. The building has the (painted over) words "Snelling Buildings, Est 1920" on the upper façade above the butcher's shop door. However, in light of no corresponding increase in value to the property in the c1920 Rate books, this date is probably only applicable to the year the business was formed.

Prior History
CT WN88/159 was issued in 1897 to Rose Mary Aisher, the wife of Frederick Aisher, described as a fruiterer[1] of Palmerston North. The 1897-98 Rate Books reveal that at that time, the two properties concerned, Sections 303 Lot 3 and 303 Lot 4, were both bare land. The butcher shop was to be sited on Lot 4.

The 1898-99 Rate Book shows Lot 4 has gained a £4 improvement (a shed perhaps), while Lot 3 has increased in value by £340. The aforementioned photo shows a house on that site (the future site of Stage 2), and this seems likely to have been the Aishers' new home as certainly they lived in Cuba Street. The Aishers were Irish and had migrated to New Zealand in about 1879. They settled in Palmerston North in 1888 and soon established a business in The Square, manufacturing confectionery in a shop between Coleman Place and The Square.

During the 1880s and 1890s, Frederick Aisher was the sole manufacturing confectioner in Palmerston North. His obituary in 1933 stated that his shop was well remembered by many people. As was not unnatural the premises were the rendezvous of the majority of the young folk in the town. The Aishers disposed of their business in 1900 and later Frederick undertook an array of community and public roles, including serving as a PN Borough Councillor. It seems likely that the property being studied here was also disposed of as part of this transition.[2]

The Building

Stage 1 - 1902-1928
CT WN88/159 records that property was sold in 1902 to Penelope Fraser, wife of Palmerston North storekeeper, carrier and former goldminer, William Fraser.[3] Within about a month, she had sold it to Herbert Richard Brewer, whose occupation was not given other than he was a "settler" of Palmerston North. In mid-1903, Brewer sold the property to Joseph Johnson, who was described as a "gentleman" of Palmerston North.

The 1902-03 Rate Book records the transfer of the property from Rose Aisher directly to Herbert Brewer. It also records that something valued at £150 had been added to the now combined property (Sec 303, Lots 3 & 4), and this subsequently appears as the increased value of Lot 4. Given the amount, this is almost certainly the shop shown in the c1910 photo STC14. The 1903-04 Rate Book records the transfer from Brewer (of Cuba St.) to Joseph W. Johnson, who is usually referred to as Joseph Webb Johnson. The two sections are valued separately from this point onward, with the house section having a significantly higher value than the shop site.

Joseph Webb Johnson, of Broad Street, sold off some of his properties during the 1905-06 rating year, which is probably when he left Palmerston North. However, he retained this property, the 1906 Wises Directory listing George Cotton, butcher, as occupant of both the shop and the house next door.[4] Joseph Webb Johnson then leased it during the 1906-07 rating year to Patrick O'Connor. O'Connor, who the 1908 Wise's Directory also lists as a butcher (the latter volume adding that his private residence was next door), retained it until the 1908-09 rating year, at which time it passed to Henry Couper, another butcher.  Patrick O'Connor had earlier taken on Henry Couper as a partner in a firm they named 'O'Connor & Couper', and the regular notice to this effect that they published in the Manawatu Evening Standard for their Cuba Street Butchery, dated the event as 1 August 1907.[5]

The CT records that Joseph Webb Johnson died on 28 December 1911, and as his death is not on local records, it is likely that he was in Auckland.

The property was transmitted in 1912 to Johnson's widow Eliza Jane Johnson; Joseph Kew Hartz, insurance manager; John Peter Heaton, merchant (all of Auckland) and John Howe Oscar Colby, gentleman of Onehunga. Mrs Johnson must have died around 1924, as that year the property was transmitted to the other three as survivors.

The 1914 Wise's Directory records that Henry Couper's butcher's shop was then numbered 60 Cuba St. The rating records state that he remained the occupant of the property for rating purposes until the 1924-25 rating year, however, this seems unlikely.

Work valued at £45 had been done on the shop site during the 1914-15 rating year, meaning that it had almost the same value by then as the house section (the shop section had a higher unimproved land value). In the 1921-22 rating year, the house section received a £93 increase in value due to unknown work being carried out.

CT WN 88/159 records that the property was leased in 1920 to Edsel Charles Gray and George Lelliott Snelling for a 5-year period starting on 1 February 1920. Local cemetery records reveal that both of these men were butchers, however, their relationship with Henry Couper is unknown. The 1922 Wise's Directory lists "Grey & Snelling", butchers, as occupants of this shop, now 65 Cuba St. Meanwhile the house next door at 63 Cuba St, was listed as occupied by Sidney William Jones, another butcher. The 1927 Directory lists Snelling as at the shop's occupant, while the house was now his private residence.

In 1922, Snelling took over the lease from Gray, and then in 1924 he took over ownership of the property from Hartz, Heaton and Colby. The 1924-25 Rate Book notes the transfer of ratepayer from Couper to Snelling The house site also receives more work to the value of £43. Its capital value is now £1073, while the shop site's capital value is £920, their sections having an unimproved value of £530 and £660 respectively.

Stage 2 - 1928
The next improvement activity on these two sections was in the 1927-28 rating year. This saw the shop property's capital value increase by £200.  It is possible this was a rebuild of the shop, or more likely it was additions and alterations. The next rating year, 1928-29, saw the house section increase by £1,100. A pencilled note in the rate book says that this was "four shops". The buildings on the property were then more or less as they are now in terms of their street appearance.

The PNBC Register of Building Permits, Vol 3, records (p393) the application for a permit to build something to the value of £200 on the shop section in March 1928. The register then records (p395) G Snelling being granted Permit No. 496 on 12 July 1928 to build the shops in brick to the value of £1,100.[6] The architect is not identified on the plans held by PNCC, however the builder of these shops was recorded on the plans as being NM McLean.

George Snelling died on 21 July 1946, aged 59, and in 1947, the property was transmitted to his wife Rubina Adeline Snelling, and Cecil Grant Wood, a Palmerston North farmer, as executors. Rubina Snelling died on 20 December 1950, aged 61, and in 1956 the property was transmitted to Cecil Grant Wood as survivor. On the same date (15 March 1956) Wood transferred the property to Marjory Sophia Hall (married woman of PN); Duncan William Snelling (dental surgeon of London); Kate Rebecca Tankard (married of Browns Bay); Patricia Ayson Snelling (spinster of PN); Peter George Snelling (dental surgeon of Browns Bay); and Peggy Winifred Donaldson (married of PN) as tenants in common. These people probably constitute the 'Snelling Trust'.

After more than six decades in the Snelling family, the property was sold in 1987 to Avedon Holdings Ltd. It was then transferred in 1992 to Garry Wong, a market gardener, and his wife Kaye Wong. Ownership was transferred to Cuba Street Holdings Ltd (then owner of the neighbouring Carlton Hotel as part of Axis Property Group) in 2004 and then in 2008 to the current owner, Trust Company Ltd, which also owns the former Carlton Hotel.

When work to enlarge the Carlton Hotel began in 2004, this building was also mentioned: The hotel expansion leaves Lombard corner shops intact. Axis Property general manager Patrick Daly said that while Axis now owned the property there was an agreement in place that protected the current residents. Some retail space not in use will become the builders' site office. At some future stage, Mr Daly said, the corner block may be considered for redevelopment.[7]

Additions & Alterations
The PNCC Building Permit file on 199 Cuba St (C100/199) records that in 1959, the Snelling Trust applied to alter the butcher shop for Snelling Bros. Then in 1969 the Trust applied to build a new verandah and to add an extension to the rear of the three shops.

Building Permit file C/195-197, entitled 'PO Fish Supplies' outlines the conversion of the two shops nearest to the hotel into the Post Office Fish Supply shop, in early 1988. This involved removing much of the wall between the two shops. As the altered shop was considered large enough to hold more than 30 people, the doors were also required to swing outward to permit an easier exit in case of emergencies. This shop last appeared in the phonebook in 1994.[8]

The building permit file also records that the building was re-roofed in 2006.  Of note are the loss of the caps from three of the pilasters.  These were still present in a 1950 photo of the Carlton Hotel.[9]

Known Occupants

Shop nearest Carlton Hotel[10]
Stones 1933 - 147 Cuba St - Ernest Williams, hairdresser
Wises 1936 - 147 Cuba St - Edward Wilkins, hairdresser
Wises 1939 - 147 Cuba St - Edward Williams, hairdresser
Wises 1944-54 - 191 Cuba St - Bernard C. Williams, hairdresser
Wises 1957 - 191 Cuba St - Jack O'Leary, hairdresser
Wises 1959-60 - 191 Cuba St - Basil J Parkinson, hairdresser (last entry in phonebook 1987)
1988-c1994 - 195 Cuba St - Converted to part of the Post Office Fish Supply shop
2010 - (former 191 Cuba) - No signage on this shop

Middle Shop
Stones 1933 - 149 Cuba St - Arthur James Pascoe, herbalist
Wises 1936 - 149 Cuba St - Oliver P Liddell, pastry cook
Wises 1939 - 149 Cuba St - Mrs Mary Tongs, pastry cook
Wises 1944 - 193 Cuba St - Ronald K Beale, dairy
Wises 1953 - 193 Cuba St - Howard Rowland, radio manufacturer (Phonebook: moved c1988)
1988-c1994 - 197 Cuba St - Post Office Fish Supply shop
2004 - Builders' site office during Carlton Hotel upgrade (MES 30/4/2004, p3)
c2005-now - 195 Cuba St - Westside Foods

Shop nearest Butcher's Shop
1933-mid-'50s - 151 (later 195) Cuba St - Joe & Joe, fruiterers
Wises 1957-60 - 195 Cuba St - Joe Wah, fruiterer
c2003-now - 199 Cuba St - Hana Mart Asian Grocery Shop

Known occupants of the Butcher's shop
Ratebooks c1902-4 - Herbert R Brewer (occupation unknown)
Ratebooks c1904-6 - Joseph Webb Johnson, gentleman (occupation unknown)
Wises 1906 - George Cotton, butcher
Ratebooks c1906-8 - Patrick O'Connor, butcher
Ratebooks c1908-c1920 - Henry Couper, butcher (still charged the rates till 1924??)
Lease (CT) 1920-2 - Edsel Charles Gray & George Lelliott Snelling, butchers
Lease (CT) 1922-4 - George Lelliott Snelling, butcher
Owner 1924-46 - George Lelliott Snelling (died 1946)
Wises 1950-c1975 - VJ Toohey, butcher (at least)
Phonebook mid '70s - Harris Meatmarket (to present day)

Architectural Description 

The building is designed in a very simple version of the Inter-War Stripped Classical style, which was a common commercial style in the period between the wars.  The main indicators of the style on the building are the pilasters on the above verandah section of the building, which project beyond the parapet.  The pilasters are repeated in the below verandah section of the building and coincide with the shop divisions.

The shop fronts are tiled with black trim to grey tiles in the two central shops and white with black tiles forming a panel in the spandrel of the butcher shop on the corner.  It appears that the tiled surfaces are of a similar period to the construction of the building.  The two central shopfronts are timber with toplights over the shopfront and entry doors.  There are clerestory windows above the verandah.

1928 plans for the shops show the layout of each shop with an open space facing the street with an angled ingo on one side and corridor with room to the rear.  The exterior appears to have been all tiled except for the pilasters.

Statement of Significance 

This building has moderate local significance for historical and design values, representivity of building style and level of external authenticity. 

This building has moderate historic values as the butcher's shop in this building seems likely to be one of Palmerston North's oldest (if not the oldest) butcher's shops still in continuous operation for at least 105 years.  Further investigation of the period 1902-5 could reveal that it was always a butcher's shop.

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

The building has moderate design values as a very simple 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 is largely authentic.

[1] The term "fruiterer" seems to have meant more than just selling fruit in earlier times, and he in fact made and sold lollies etc.

[2]Manawatu Evening Standard: Obituary RM Aisher, 6 April 1923 4(8); Obituary F Aisher, 26 May 1933 6(7), 27 May 1933 2(4).

[3]Manawatu Evening Standard: Obituary W Fraser, 14 August 1912 5(2), 16 August 1912 5(1); P Fraser 1 July 1935 8(4)

[4] Possibly this is George Cotton, farmer of Bourke St, PN, who died on 12 April 1943, aged 83. Ref: PNCC cemetery records & Manawatu Evening Standard 12 April 1943 1(1)

[5]Manawatu Evening Standard, this copy 5 October 1907, 3(2)

[6]  PN Borough Council Register of Building Permits, Vol 3, PNCC 4/13/1, Vol 3, Ian Matheson City Archives, PN City Library

[7]Manawatu Evening Standard 30 April 2004, p3

[8] Note that the Post Office Fish Supply shop was then moving from 489-491 Main St. The photo of the demolition of the original Post Office Fish Shop, sited between the old main Post Office and Princess Street and built before 1900, was published in the Manawatu Evening Standard on 16 August 1966 (p3, [1-4])

[9] Photo Ho59, Photographic Collection, PN City Library.

[10] Note that until 1955, the Carlton Hotel's shop, on the opposite side of that building, was also a men's hairdresser. So the Carlton's patrons were well provided for should they be in need a quick trim.