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331-341 The Square: Former Grand Hotel

Former -Grand -Hotel

Building Details

Building name: Grand Hotel 
Address: 331-341 The Square
Construction date: 1906
Architect: JC Maddison
Architectural style: Second Empire
Distract Plan Category: Street Character 27
Building number: 13
Heritage NZ Category: 1
Building number: 192


The site later occupied by the Grand Hotel was originally occupied by a boarding house which in the 1880s became the Provincial Hotel. The leaseholder Martin Craven bought the hotel in 1896. This timber building was destroyed by fire in January 1906 and the foundation stone of the Grand Hotel was laid on 19 May the same year. The hotel's builders, Trevor and Sons, purchased it from Craven in 1908. The building remained in the hands of the brother until 1927. From then the buildings changed hands a number of times. The hotel has hosted two Royal visits; the Duke and Duchess of York in 1927, and Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh in 1954. In 1985 the then owners Manawatu Holdings Ltd converted it to commercial offices and retail space. Since 1987 the building has been owned by Henry B Norcross Holdings.


The style of the building is Second Empire, which was a popular style in the late nineteenth century, having been initiated by the reconstruction of Paris by Napoleon III. The mansard is a hallmark of the style with circular dormer windows, and included many Classical elements such as columns, rusticated masonry, pediments, and entablatures. The remaining authentic interior feature of the building - the main staircase - is consistent in scale and decoration to the exterior style.


Maddison was born in Greenwich and came to Lyttelton in 1872. He settled in Christchurch and commenced practice as an architect. He designed a large number of public buildings, mainly in Canterbury, including the Church of the Holy Innocents, Amberley, the Anglican Church at Port Levy, Warner's Hotel (1881) and Clarendon Hotel (1902), both in Christchurch, Government Buildings, Christchurch (1913) and numerous residences. Maddison was well known as an industrial architect and was responsible for the warehouses of the Kaiapoi Woollen Company. His specialty however was in the design of freezing works. Among his designs were the Canterbury Freezing Works, Belfast (1883) and the Mataura Freezing Works, Canterbury and he is considered to have been one of the chief exponents in this field during the late 19th century. He was admitted as a Fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects.

Summary of Heritage Values

As a significant hotel, it has associations with the entertainment and accommodation of locals and visitors.

The building is a good example of the style, and because of the style and its scale, the building is a critical element in the urban design of the Square. As with the Square Edge, the building is a significant corner gateway building to the Square.

The building is a landmark building in Palmerston North.

In its new use, it has economic, functional, educational and social values.

Statement of Significance

The Grand Hotel is a substantial and important link with Palmerston North's prosperous Edwardian past. It is still a physically prominent building despite the passing of the years. The hotel has nearly 90 years of association with the local community and in its heyday was a well known hostelry throughout New Zealand. In common some of New Zealand's other fine hotels, the Grand has hosted royalty. Although now converted to offices it gives an insight into the standard and style of hotel accommodation from earlier this century. The building is a critical landmark building in the Square and Palmerston North, and a good example of the Second Empire style.

NZHPT Buildings Classification Report
NZHPT Register of Architects
Billens RH and HL Verry (Comp) 1937, From Swamp to City, PN
Saunders BGR 1987, Manawatu's Old Buildings, Department of Geography, Massey University, Palmerston North