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201-207 Cuba Street - Bryant Building

Building Details 

Building Name: Bryant Building
Address: 201-207 Cuba Street
District Plan Category: 2
Building number: 30
Heritage NZ Catagory: 2

Stage 1
207 & Upstairs - 205 Cuba Street - shop nearest Rangitikei St
Construction date: 1905
Architect: unknown                       
Builder: unknown

Stage 2
203 Cuba Street - middle shop
Construction date: 1911
Architect: unknown                        
Builder: unknown          

Stage 3
201 Cuba St - shop nearest Lombard St
Construction date: 1915
Architect: F de Jersey Clere & Son, Wellington
Builder: unknown

Physical and Social History 

This block of three two-storey shops appears at first glance as being likely to have been built together. However, early photos held in the Palmerston North City Library's photographic collection reveal otherwise. At present the three are leased as a single shop, and possibly two of them have been operated as one shop for many years. The upper floor is understood to be rented as flats, and this area, numbered 205 Cuba Street, is accessed from Cuba Street via a stairway in (but walled off from) the oldest of the three shops.

Prior History
CT WN96/294 was issued in 1898 to Carston Jesson Hansen, a draper, and the pre-1910 photo of Cuba Street (STC 14) reveals a two-storey building on the site that appears to have been a pair of shops. This building occupied the space now occupied by Stages 2 and 3 of the present building - and Stage 1 of this building is already present in the photo.

In 1899, the property, Lots 5 & 6 of DP 352, was transferred to Frederick Bryant, a butcher, and the Bryant family was to own two-thirds of the property until 1960. The remaining third belonged to Frederick Bryant's wife until her death in 1929, and then passed to a woman in England, who owned it until 1971.

Frederick Bryant

Frederick Bryant was born in Auckland in 1860, to parents from Bristol, England. He later lived in Thames before moving to Palmerston North in 1883, where he soon established himself in business, buying Joseph Beale's butcher shop in 1885, then the town's oldest butcher shop. His business partner in Palmerston North was William Reed, who eventually predeceased him by a few months. In 1899, Bryant began farming and took up a large acreage at Shannon. He was still one of the largest landowners there at the time of his death.

His obituary states that although not involved in municipal affairs, he had substantial property interests in Palmerston North, including business blocks in The Square, Rangitikei Street and Cuba Street. He had also owned a large area of land in the vicinity of Bryant and Chelwood Streets, as well as land in Roslyn opposite Featherston Street. He was responsible for subdividing and roading these areas for residential sections. Bryant had bought the Roslyn land during the 1903-4 rating year and subdivided it between 1911 and 1913. He bought the Bryant-Chelwood area land during the 1910-11 rating year, and subdivided it between 1911 and 1915. Possibly these sales influenced his decision to build this building in stages and at the times he did. Of these streets, Bryant Street was obviously named after the family. Chelwood Street was named after Chelwood, Tunbridge Wells, his wife Mary Ann Bryant's home village. Kingswood Street was named after Kingswood Road, Tunbridge Wells and Lyndhurst Street traces to Lyndhurst Gardens, Tunbridge Wells. In Roslyn, Keith Street was named after his son Keith.[1]

Frederick made 16 trips to Tunbridge Wells, where his family was raised. His business interests ensured, however, that New Zealand was really his home. Mary Ann Bryant died at Tunbridge Wells in 1929. The couple's son Frederick William Bryant, then 41, had also died there in 1927.[2] Frederick Bryant senior died at his Wood Street home aged 74 on 18 June 1939. The couple were survived by sons Dr EH Bryant, a medical practitioner in Auckland; AG Bryant, a partner in the legal firm Roche, Neale & Son, Old Jewry, London; and Keith Bryant, who was then a commercial artist in Sydney.[3]

Stage One
The first stage of this building appears in the aforementioned photo STC 14, taken from the old fire station bell tower in Coleman Place, which was removed in 1910. The streetscape in the photo includes many shops, and the dozens of people strolling individually and in small groups down along Cuba Street at the time, suggests that they are probably heading for the showgrounds.

While no specific information has been found in relation to the actual construction of this building, the 1904-5 Rate Book shows that at the time, Section 303, Lot 6, was bare land, having the sum of £214 as both the unimproved and the capital values. Meanwhile, Lot 5 (the corner section with the older shop on it) had an unimproved value of £231 and a capital value of £531.

The 1905-6 Rate Book, however, shows two additional sums written in red ink (ie new entries) for Lot 6. The greater of the two is £1080 - being the value of this new building - and a further £250, which could relate to the construction of a bakery elsewhere on the property.

CT WN96/294 records the lease for seven years of this building, starting on 20 October 1905, to Walter Thomas Cotton. The 1906-7 Rate Book then records the lease of the new building to Cotton, described as a baker. Thereafter for the duration of this lease, the tenant had responsibility for the rates. The 1908 Wises Directory lists Walter Cotton, baker and confectioner as occupant of this shop. However, he may have moved on early, as the 1911 Wises Directory lists William Everitt, baker and confectioner, as the shop's occupant.

There are no other entries on this CT except those relating to the subdivision of the property into three parts in 1913, by which time planning for the third stage was probably in progress.

CT WN220/118 was issued to Frederick Bryant in 1913. It records the transfer of this property in 1921 from Frederick, to his wife, Mary Ann Bryant. Doubtless this was to protect it from potential loss in the event of any business failures he might experience - as was often the case when land was transferred into the names of businessmen's wives. However, she predeceased her husband in 1929.

In 1933 the registered mortgagees exercised the power of sale in Mortgage 98423 on the property (the mortgages had undergone a lot of activity since 1930), and the property was sold to Nellie Stevenson, a spinster of Tunbridge Wells, who was probably a sister or niece to Mary Ann Bryant (nee Stevenson). The property remained in her name until 1973, when it was transmitted to Laurie Laurenson as executor, before being transferred to Peter Bares, retired restaurateur, the same year.  It was then transferred to Alan Terry Ibbotson, a Nelson businessman, in 1987, at which time the three titles came under the same ownership again.

Stage Two
The first evidence of the arrival of Stage 2, the middle section sited on both Lots 5 and 6, is also photographic. This is PN Library photo Sq 142, taken from the old main Post Office Clock Tower This photo was taken about 1912, based on the presence or otherwise of buildings shown, and certainly the future site of the (former) Hallensteins building, built on the corner of Coleman Place and George Street in 1913, still has trees standing on it.

In the background of this photo are the upstairs windows of the two buildings, with visibility that was previously blocked by the older building, now being unobstructed.

The 1910-11 Rate Book records the property's changed value and so indicates the construction of Stage 2. With the rates due on the Stage 1 of the building now charged to W Cotton, the rest of Lot 6, plus Lot 5, are now rated as bare land with both their unimproved value and a capital value being £528. Noted in red ink with the entry are the sums of £600 and £250 (presumably caused by the boundary line this building sits on), and the following year the capital value is £1,378. A further £40 was added to the property's capital value the 1912-13 rating year.

CT WN220/117 was issued to Frederick Bryant in 1913. It was duly transferred in 1931 to his son, Keith Bryant, then an artist of Tunbridge Wells. He retained it until 1960 (with the help of a mortgage from Nellie Stevenson in 1950), when it was sold to Peter Bares, retired restaurant proprietor of PN. It was then transferred to Alan Terry Ibbotson, a Nelson businessman, in 1987, at which time the three titles came under the same ownership again.

Stage Three
The third stage of this building has a little more known detail. Tenders to build it were called by architects F de Jersey Clere & Son, of Wellington, in the Manawatu Evening Standard of 1 June 1914. The building was described as being two-storied and of brick.[4] Given that architectural firm's prior involvement with the Manawatu, it is likely that the other two buildings had the same origin. The 1914-15 Rate Book then shows an additional sum of £1,088 being added (in the usual red ink) to the property's capital value. With the lease of Stage 1 to Cotton and later Everitt now apparently over, and the presence of Stages 2 and 3, the property now had an unimproved value of £988 and a capital value of £4,326.

A plumbing plan for this building, dated 10 October 1914, survives in the Plans section of the Ian Matheson City Archives. This shows the plumber to have been C Whithers, and that the bakehouse was directly behind the new shop. However, it is not clear if the bakehouse and shop were built at the same time.[5]

The 1915-16 Rate Book records the five-year lease of Part Lot 5 (Stage 3) to baker and confectioner William B Everitt, of an area some 22 feet by 99 feet. As he had been listed in the 1911 Wises Directory as an occupant of this shop, he evidently switched from his original shop (Stage 1) to the new shop. Things did not go as well as expected though, and by June 1917 he had gone. The Manawatu Evening Standard duly announced that William Benjamin Everitt, of Pokeno, Auckland, had been adjudicated a bankrupt on the petition of Wellington and Palmerston North creditors, and that the case was being transferred from Auckland back to Palmerston North.[6] This shop was by this time leased to by the bakery firm Boniface Bros.

CT WN220/119 was also issued to Frederick Bryant in 1913. It too was transferred in 1931, along with the Stage 2 shop, to his son, Keith Bryant. He retained it until 1960, when it was sold to Peter Bares, retired restaurant proprietor of PN. It was then transferred to Alan Terry Ibbotson, a Nelson businessman, in 1987, at which time the three titles came under the same ownership again.

Combined Ownership
In mid-1987 all three properties again came under single ownership, that of Nelson businessman, Alan Terry Ibbotson. They were then immediately transferred to Brian W Donnelly of Palmerston North, and he duly sold them in 1995 to Malcolm Henry Johnson, a PN clinical psychologist, his wife Marion Ethyl Helen Johnson (being a half share), and Stephen Raymond Rowsell, a PN builder, and his wife Bridget Meryon Joan Rowsell (as the other half share) as tenants in common in equal shares. The property was then transferred to current owners Michael David Murphy and his wife Jan Marie Murphy, in 2004.

Some Occupants

Stage 1 - 207 Cuba Street
Shop nearest Rangitikei Street (1905)
1907 (CT) - Leased for 7 years to William J Cotton, baker
Wises 1911-14 - 56 Cuba St - William B Everitt, baker & confectioner    
Wises 1916-20 - 56 (later 71) Cuba St - United Friendly Societies' Dispensary
Wises 1925 - 71 Cuba St - Louis Noedl, fancy goods
1933-44 - 161 (later 207) Cuba St - Hugh Olliver, store (ref Stones & Wises)
Wises 1950-60 - 207 Cuba St - Cuba St Consumers Co-op (Manawatu) Ltd, grocers
c1998-2008 - Housing Advice Centre
Now - Part of Crankit Cycles shop
Upstairs - 205 Cuba Street - unknown

Stage 2 - 203 Cuba Street
Middle shop (1911)
Currently wall open between this and 1915 shop - these two having always had the same owners.
Wises 1914 - 58 Cuba St - Percy Morgan, store
Wises 1916-20 - 58 Cuba St - William J. Horn, grocer
Wises 1925 - William J Wilby, grocer
Stones 1933 - Nil
c1989-c1992 - Trenz Cycles & Mowers (phonebooks)
c1993-c2006 - Affordables /Methodist Social Services (phonebooks)
c2007-now - 203 Cuba St - Part of Crankit Cycles shop

Stage 3 - 201 Cuba Street
Shop nearest Lombard Street (1915)
1916 - Leased for five years to William B Everitt
Wises 1916 - 58A Cuba St - William Everitt, baker & confectioner
Wises 1920-25 - 67 Cuba St - Boniface Bros., bakers
1933-36 - 157 Cuba St - Sid Clarke, confectioner (ref: Stones & Wises)
Wises 1939 - 157 Cuba St - Whitcombe & Son, bakers
Wises 1944-54 - 205 Cuba St - Baigent & McKenna, pastry cooks
Wises 1957-60 - 205 Cuba St - The Larder, pastry cooks
c1989-c1992 - Trenz Cycles & Mowers (phonebooks)
c1993-c2006 - Affordables /Methodist Social Services (phonebooks)
c2007-now - Part of Crankit Cycles shop

Significant Tenants
During its first half century at least, this building had two especially noteworthy types of occupants, namely a bakery lineage that began in one shop and then swapped to another. The second noteworthy line of occupants is the series of grocers that culminated in the arrival of a branch of the well-known community grocery store of its day, the Consumers Co-op (Manawatu) Ltd.

A third occupant of note in this study is the presence of the United Friendly Societies Dispensary in the Stage 1 Shop around 1916-1920 (based on the Wises Directory dates), and possibly until about 1923 when that organisation bought the property at part Lots 2 and 4, of DP 6285 stretching between The Square and Cuba Street. They later built the UFSD building at 153-154 The Square that is also part of this study.

Boniface Bros Bakery
The most prominent business known to have traced to this building was Boniface Bros Ltd, which occupied the Stage 3 building, and the outbuildings (ie. the bakery itself) once behind it, from 1916 until 1930, when the firm completed a gradual move to its long-term premises near the corner of Cuba and Bourke Streets (see also the Elgin Buildings).

The brothers John and Amos Boniface who formed this business were the Australian-born sons of an English farmer who migrated to Australia and in due course built an oven to supply his family with bread. As the neighbours came to like the bread also, the Boniface family began supplying them too. John Boniface came to NZ in 1904, and by 1910 he was back in the baking trade. He and Amos purchased a farm in Taranaki, but when the First World War broke out in 1914, Amos left for the front. John then set about looking for an occupation with more scope for the pair when the war ended.

Seeing Palmerston North as a suitable business possibility, on 31 July 1916 John purchased the small bakery and confectionary business of the soon-to-be-bankrupt William Everitt.  At the time there were five bakeries in Palmerston North and this was the smallest. However, by the firm's 50-year jubilee celebrations in 1966, it was the only one that remained.

When Boniface Bros took over the bakery, the deliveries were done by pushbike. The bakery premises had no real place to stable horses and so in order to make the deliveries, John bought a model T Ford in November 1916 - the first of many Fords the company was to own. This was the first delivery van to be used in Palmerston North, and other businesses soon followed his example. When Amos returned from the war in 1918, it was soon necessary to find increased accommodation for the rapidly growing business. Consequently the two main sections of the business were separated, with the pastry-cook and confectionery portion being continued in the Cuba Street premises (wedding cakes being a specialty), while the bread making was removed to Waldegrave Street, where a bakehouse had been acquired.

Before long, even the two sites were too small for the business and in 1924, the firm acquired its future site near the corner of Bourke and Cuba Streets. In 1929 they built their new bakery there. They retained their shop in the original building for a further year, by which time a new shop and offices had been built at the new site - adjoining the Elgin Building.

The firm continued to grow at its new premises and in 1935 John Boniface became president of what subsequently became the NZ Association of Bakers Inc. He was later to recall that this was a crucial period for the association as Palmerston North was in the middle of a bread war. A chain of recently established grocery stores were being supplied with bread on contract from a baker and they were in some cases selling this for less than what it cost them in an effort to capture a share of the market. In November 1935, the Labour Government took office and set out to end the war by stabilising prices.

By the time of the 50-year Jubilee in 1966, the firm was producing many types of bread, rolls and fancy breads, buns, pies and cakes. At that time, the firm also donated £500 to build a pergola in the rose garden at the Esplanade in gratitude to the city for 50 years of successful trading.

In 1969, the firm opened a new bakery in Tremaine Avenue and production was due to end at the Cuba Street site on 15 May 1970. The firm was taken over by Quality Bakers of NZ Ltd in August 1970, and then the Palmerston North bakery merged with AS Paterson & Co Ltd in 1973.[7] The subsequent history of the Tremaine Avenue bread factory has not been researched. However, it is understood that the last baking occurred there in late 2008 and that it is now a distribution centre.[8]

In their 1937 article in From Swamp to City, Boniface Bros published a photo (above) of their Balmoral Tea and Luncheon Rooms in Cuba Street. This shop was in this building, but changes since that time cause some identification problems. The Balmoral Luncheon Rooms were advertised in 1916[9] as serving morning and afternoon teas, arranging wedding breakfasts, and preparing wedding and birthday cakes, etc. Possibly it operated in this building until Boniface Bros left in 1930. That year another new shop was started at the site of their new bakery. In 1935, they opened the Pink Cake Shop in The Square.

The Cuba Street Co-op
The Stage 2 shop very likely started as a grocery shop, and sometime between 1925 and 1933 (these dates based on the Wises' and Stones' Directories) this business appears to have shifted into the Stage 1 shop. Hugh Olliver ran the grocery store throughout the 1930s and into the mid-1940s, before selling out to the Consumers' Co-operative Society (Manawatu) Ltd. (generally known as 'the Co-op'). As a result, the Cuba Street Co-op opened for business in September 1945. The company also purchased Anthony's Butchery as a going concern and renamed it in June 1947 as the Cuba Street Butchery. This is possibly the Co-op Butchers on the corner of Bourke Street opposite the Elgin Buildings, according to the 1950-51 Wises' Directory. However, the butchery shop had already closed in August 1949.[10]

The Consumers Co-operative Society (Manawatu) Ltd was founded in 1935 with the aim that the customers owned the business; that no individual or firm could take it over; and that no person could profit at the expense of another. By the end of the Second World War, the Co-op had established seven grocery shops, seven butcher's shops and a bakery. After continuing growth, the Co-op then bought the PDC department store in 1956.

After twenty-two years, the Cuba Street Co-op had evidently outgrown this shop. As a result the neighbouring property was obtained and a purpose-built Co-op building was erected there. This single-storey building, now Moose's Sports shop at 211 Cuba Street, was designed by David Lough & Associates, the plans being dated 7 March 1967. 

By the 1980s, the Co-op was under increasing pressure from supermarket chains and high interest rates, and began selling off its satellite stores. The Cuba Street Co-op last appears in the phonebook in 1982, and the Co-op in due course went into voluntary receivership in 1988. A brief administrative history of the business written in 1993, notes however, that The Co-op played an important part in the development of Palmerston North and the life of its citizens, as it was often the establishment of a Co-op store in a suburb which led to the growth of a suburban shopping centre.[11] Correspondingly, the failure of the very influential Co-op to establish a Co-op store in a new suburb was also attributed with stunting the growth of suburban shopping centres in some places.[12]

Additions & Alterations
The PNCC Building Permit records (C 100/203-207) are fairly limited. The earliest application, by Cameron Investments, is dated 14 September 1987, involves refurbishing the building. Next is an application from March 1989, to erect new shop fronts and upgrade the interiors to a value of $5,500. The plan of this shows the three shops, plus the single-storey Shop 4 and the two-storey Shop/Studio 5 both facing Lombard Street. These were part of the old bakery dating to between 1905 and 1915. Cameron Investments has not been researched, however, at the time Brian W Donnelly owned the building.

Finally in 2004 permission was sought to demolish the buildings previously listed as Shops 4 and 5, as their sites were to become park of the Carlton Hotel's carpark.[13]

The foundations at the front of this block show some evidence of their having been constructed in stages.  Other variations beneath the verandah might also reflect this, with the first stage building having original-type windows directly beneath the verandah roof. It also has an old-style tiled floor inside the entrance that the other two shops do not have.  The rear of the building shows the outlines of the demolished buildings.

Architectural Description 

The building is designed in the Edwardian Italianate Palazzo style with symmetrical façade, Classical details such as a parapet, and pilasters to the full height of the building, a cornice with modillions and flat pediments over the windows.  The timber verandah  appears to be original although shopfronts are not.

The available plan of the buildings of 1987 shows three similar sized open shops on the ground floor with toilets at the rear and two further shops on Lombard Street.  These shops now no longer exist.

No construction information is given on the drawings.  The description above states the building is of brick construction and from observation it has a timber framed verandah and timber joinery.

Statement of Significance 

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

This building has high historic values in its connection to Frederick Bryant, a businessman with significant property interests in Palmerston North as well as being the largest landowner in Shannon at the time of his death. Reflecting a high level of continuity is the continuous tenancies of bakers from 1907 to 1957.  The building has high age value as is one of the few in the central city over 100 years old.

Contributing to high historic values is the likelihood that all stages of the building were designed by F de J Clere and sons, a highly significant practice in the lower half of the North Island from the late Victorian to the Inter-War period. 

The building has moderatedesign values as a representative example of the Late Victorian/Edwardian Italianate 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 external authenticity, particularly above the shopfronts.

[1] AGS Bradfield, Forgotten Days (Palmerston North, 1956), pp162-176.

[2]Manawatu Evening Standard 10 November 1927 1(1)

[3]Manawatu Evening Standard, 19 June 1939 8(2); F Bryant file, Ian Matheson City Archives, PN City Library. 'The Manawatu Meat Market Co Ltd' in Robert H Billens & H Leslie Verry, From Swamp to City (Palmerston North, 1937) page unnumbered; IR Matheson, 'The Birth of Palmerston North', Manawatu Evening Standard supplement, 13 March 1971, p69.

[4] Pam Phillips Papers Vol 5, p35, Ian Matheson City Archives, PN City Library.

[5] Plan 141/205-7, PNCC 4/13/6, Ian Matheson City Archives, PN City Library. This plan was for Permit 221, 10 October 1914.

[6]Manawatu Evening Standard, 12 June 1917 4(6); 4 July 1917 8(7)

[7]Manawatu Evening Standard 17 December 1930 19(5-8), 19 August 1966 p6-7, 16 August 1966 1(2), 5 November 1969 3(6-7), 11 May 1970 3(1), 28 August 1970 p1, 5 June 1973 p1; 'New Zealand's Model Bakery' in Robert H Billens & H Leslie Verry, From Swamp to City (Palmerston North, 1937) eight un-numbered pages.

[8] Personal conversations on 12 January 2010 with Steve of Steve's Bulk Barn, Midway Plaza; and Paul Burr of Manawatu Hydraulics Ltd, whose firm maintained the bakery's equipment and overhauled its oven three weeks before the decision to stop baking in November 2008. He said the small goods baking had stopped there a few years earlier - VAB

[9]Manawatu Evening Standard, regular advert 2 September 1916 1(2)

[10] 'Jubilee & History Notes', in Consumers' Co-op Society (Manawatu) Ltd, Folder 5, Box 2, Series 26, Ian Matheson City Archives, PN City Library.

[11] Plans for new shop at 215 Cuba St, dated 7 March 1967, Building Plans, Folder 1, Series 33, Misc Building Plans; Penny Allen, 'Consumers' Co-operative Society (Manawatu) Ltd: Administrative History' (1993) Preamble to the Consumers' Co-operative Society (Manawatu) Ltd: Administrative History files in the Community Archives Series List, Vol Co-Cy, Ian Matheson City Archives, PN City Library.

[12] Personal conversation with former PNCC planner Ken Tremaine around 1990, who said that the Co-op had actively prevented any small grocery shops being established in Kelvin Grove suburb between the suburb's beginnings in the mid-1960s, and the early 1980s (when the present two shops were built), by which time he had acted to end this Co-op position - VAB

[13]Manawatu Evening Standard 30 April 2004, p3