Timaru Herald, 3 July 1869, Page 5
[From the Timaru Herald, June 19.]

Over six months have now elapsed since the great fire on the 7th of December, 1868, and as a number of buildings have, been since then finished and occupied, and others are still in course of erection, we think it may not be uninteresting to our readers to give a sketch of the locale and other matters connected with the buildings which have been erected on the site of those destroyed. Notwithstanding the large losses incurred by a majority of the sufferers through the fire, yet the destruction of the wooden buildings has led to the erection of buildings on a much improved style of architecture; and where formerly wooden buildings of inferior workmanship and finish stood, stone buildings of first-class character have been, and are being erected.

We will commence our sketch at the point where the fire broke out, and point out the various improvements which have m the last six months taken place on the line traversed by the fire. The plot of ground where the fire originated, at the back of Mr D. Munro's furniture warehouse, is vacant, and still shows signs of the fire, by burnt bricks and twisted ironwork lying about. There is, however, erected on the site of the old furniture warehouse a wooden building of most modest pretensions, occupied and used by Mr Munro for the same purpose as his former building. At a distance of a few feet to the southward commences the stone and brick block of buildings belonging to Mr Henry Cain. This block, which is two stories high, has a street frontage of 66 feet, with a depth of 40 feet, and is divided into three large shops, measuring 27ft x 19ft. Behind each shop there is a smaller shop or room, measuring 12ft x l9 feet. On the second floor there is a sittingroom with two bedrooms over each shop and as there is a separate entrance to each, there are thus three distinct dwellinghouses. Moreover, to make the houses still more complete, they have each a moderately sized kitchen, with servant's room overhead, built on at the back. The back, side, and partition walls are built substantially of bluestone, and the front wall of brick stuccoed, with a handsome cornice at the top, and a lower one of smaller dimensions under the upper windows. A light and handsome verandah is now being built along the whole front of the block, and when finished it will add considerably to the general appearance of the buildings but to our mind the posts are too slender. Mr Ross, of Dunedin, is the architect, and Mr Cliff contractor for these buildings, the work in which seems to be m every particular well executed. A little plastering is now all that is necessary to complete the buildings, and preparations are being made by the occupiers to take possession. The shops are taken respectively by Messrs Todd, drapers, Wood, Brothers, saddlers, and Dr Butler, chemist.

Next in order, and attached to Cain's buildings, is a row of one-story buildings, extending down the street about 150 feet. The back and side walls are built of bluestone, with wooden fronts. The row is divided off into nine separate premises, each with a good sized shop in front with a room m the rear. The style of architecture does not call for any remark, but it is a pity that the building at the end of the row should be so distressingly ugly, with no redeeming feature. The wooden fronts m the row are objectionable, as they but afford a hold to fire, if fire should unfortunately break out. We believe the reason these buildings are of such a composite nature is, that the land is held at such short leases as to virtually preclude the leaseholders from building on it really substantial buildings. The three first of the premises are occupied respectively by Mr Knight, painter, Mr Salomon, draper, and Mr Fisher, solicitor, and are the property of Mr Durand. The two next shops m the row are built and owned by Mr French the one occupied by himself as seedsman, and the other by Mr Wade, baker. Continuing on the row, we come to four more shops, the property of Mr F. LeCren, occupied by the Bank of New Zealand, Mr Jacobs, watchmaker, Mr Hudson, butcher, and Mr Kempthorne, chemist.

From Mr Kempthorne's, chemist, to the next block of buildings there is a gap of about 35 yards, when we arrive, at a block of four neat-looking shops, with a street frontage of 66 feet, built entirely of wood, the property of Dr M'Lean. The shops are roomy and comfortable, and the two most southern ones have two or more rooms attached as dwelling rooms. The shops are occupied by Mr Drake, grocer, Mr Riddle, glass warehouse, Mr Nelson, tailor, and Mr Beldy, tobacconist and hairdresser.

Proceeding southwards there is a large vacant space where the bank of New Zealand formerly stood, and there are at present no signs of a new building but we believe that plans are now being prepared for the erection of handsome bank premises in stone, very nearly on the site of the old bank.

Crossing George-street, we see opposite to us the large and really handsome stone warehouse in course of erection for Mr Turnbull. The building has a frontage of 62 feet on the Main South Road, and about 40 feet on George-street. As far as can be judged from the work now executed the building will be a first-class one, and, standing as it does on an admirable site, will be an ornament to the town. The massive pillars of dressed blue stone are all in position, as well as the handsome white stone cornice resting on iron bessemers above. The building is to be of two stories, and the height from the ground to the top blocking will not be far short of 40 feet. Mr Upton, of Timaru, is the architect, and Mr F. Wilson the contractor for the entire work.

Next to Mr Turnbull's building, and within a few feet, is the new post office, now rapidly approaching completion. The building is of bluestone rubble, with white stone dressings. It has a frontage of thirty feet on the Main Road, and extends backward 30 feet. Besides the necessary room required for post office work, the building contains offices for the telegraphic department. It is indeed a great pity that the plan of post and telegraph offices as originally furnished to the Government by Mr Williamson was not executed, for it was both a handsome and commodious building, and not, we believe, more than one or two hundred pounds additional cost. But economy and retrenchment being the order of the day, the plan was cut down to its present size. The accommodation provided m the present building will answer but for a short time, when additions must necessarily be made, which cannot be so perfect as if embodied m the first plan. The building stands back six feet of the path-way, which space will be covered with verandah. It is built on one-eighth of an acre of land, the property of the General Government. Mr Forgan is the contractor for the stone work, and Mr F. Wilson for the plaster and wood work.

Next adjoining, up the street, is a pretty looking two story building, with a brick front with cornice and dressings of stucco work, the property of Mr Clarkson, and occupied by Messrs Inwood and Bilton, as booksellers and stationers. The back and side walls are constructed of brick nogging, faced with sheet iron. The shop is large and commodious, and on the ground and upper floors are rooms and offices required by a family. The architect and contractor for this building was Mr F. Wilson.

At the distance of about four feet from the last building are the new stone offices built for the Timaru Herald, consisting of two offices in front, lighted by large circular headed windows, behind which is the large printing room, and which is lighted from the roof by a lantern light. The front of the building is blue stone work in courses, relieved at the doors and windows by free stone from the Point. The back and side walls are of blue stone rubble. Mr Williamson was the architect, and Messrs Kirkland and F. Wilson the contractors respectively for the stone and wood work.

This building ends the block from George street, and ascending the hill there is a considerable gap between the Herald office and the next block of buildings, which consists of two stories built of blue stone rubble, with white stone dressings, with a frontage of 66 feet on the main road. These buildings are divided into three large shops of 20ft by 20ft each. Kitchen and rooms at the back, and four rooms m the upper story to each shop make them most commodious premises. This block is not yet quite finished, but owing to the great accommodation afforded there is great likelihood of every shop in it being occupied on completion. It is the property of Mr Turnbull. Mr Upton is the architect, and Messrs Sibley and Wilson contractors respectively for the stone and wood work.

The last named block of buildings is on the site where the fire stopped on the west side of the main road, and we will now take our readers back to the east side of the street to the spot where the fire first crossed and commenced its destruction. It will be recollected that the first buildings seized upon by the fire on the east side of the main road were buildings belonging to Mr Weaver, tailor. These buildings hare now been replaced by three wooden shops rather nicely finished off, and occupied by Mr Weaver, tailor, Mr Erskine, grocer, and Mr Rowley, tinsmith.

Next to the above building is a one-storied stone building being erected by Mr King, on the site of the old Timaru Butchering Company's premises.

Next to this, at few feet distance, was the site of Mr Perry's former offices. The ground is still vacant, and Mr Perry has built handsome and compact offices lower down the street, adjoining Mr Stubbs' auction rooms. The front is of rubble work in courses, with dressings of chiselled bluestone, mixed with freestone. The doorway of these offices of dressed bluestone is a really handsome piece of workmanship, and would be a credit to any builder. Mr Williamson is the architect, and Messrs Sibley and Cliff contractors respectively for the stone and wood work.

We have now named the principal buildings which have been erected since the fire, but besides these, preparations are being made in many parts of the town on sites of buildings which were destroyed, and on fresh sites, for other stone and brick buildings. As the Building Act which precludes wooden buildings in the principal thoroughfares will soon become law, Timaru will probably in the course of a very few years present a most creditable appearance in its buildings, and second to no town of its size in New Zealand.

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