Tuesday, June 8, 2010

The Municipal Buildings

The City Council Offices, Christchurch, NZ
W & T Series
Whitcombe & Tomes Ltd

This Queen Anne style building
designed by Samuel Hurst Seager opened in 1887 and was used as the City Council Offices until 1924.

After 1893 Samuel Hurst Seager
became a lecturer in architecture and decorative design at the Canterbury College School of Art and continued in this position until 1918. He served on the college's board of governors from 1910 to 1919 and his 1913 scheme for the completion of the college buildings played a decisive role in ensuring that the complex was architecturally coherent. [1]

Samuel Hurst Seager born 26 June 1855 London, England - died 5 October 1933 Sydney, Australia.

The Municipal Buildings.

[16 March 1886]
At noon, to-day, his Worship the Mayor, in the presence of a large number of ex-Mayors and past and present Councillors of the city, laid the foundation stone of the new Municipal buildings. At the time appointed, the Union Jack was hoisted, and his Worship ascended the scaffolding erected for the purpose, and Mr Martin presented him with a handsome silver trowel. After the usual ceremony of placing sealed bottles containing copies of the local papers in the cavity beneath, and of lowering and levelling the stone, had been gone through, his Worship declared the stone to be "well and truly laid." He then addressed the assembled crowd to the following effect:— The present occasion was a very important event in the history of the city. The associations connected with the site on which he stood were of a very varied character. Those present who had been here for a number of years would remember the importance which had always been attached to that spot. He had been credibly informed that the site on which he had had the pleasure of performing the ceremony was the first site on which any public building had been erected within the City. Here had been the first Government buildings, the Land Office, the Survey Office, and the office of the Supreme Court. Here also had been the Hall of the Masonic body, who first met here in their solemn conclave. The events of the day were interesting from various aspects. There were some who could say that these buildings should long since have been erected. All would admit that this was the case. His predecessors had expressed to him that they had often felt a degree of shame when Mayors from other places came to the city to have to show the old buildings as the Municipal offices. However, what had been in the past, was no longer to obtain in the future. Some people might have had a difference of opinion as to the place where these buildings ought to be erected. It was natural and often beneficial that in all matters there should be a difference of opinion. He might say that no one had complained that the Council had not been ambitious enough before now. All, he thought, would remember that the City Council had had the ambition to build a town hall, but the means at their disposal had been insufficient to carry out their ideas in a proper manner. What was being done that day was absolutely necessary. He could not help being struck when he had that day got the picture which he now showed. That picture represented the site they were on as it appeared thirty-four years ago. It was really worth looking at in the light of the present day. Anyone who had seen the place as there represented would have considered it incredible had he been told that it would be as it was now, especially when it was borne in mind that there had been no goldfields or anything of that kind to promote the growth of the City. The people here had had to pass through periods of depression to some extent, but when it was remembered that that picture represented the site as it was thirty -four years ago, there was sufficient to make every citizen of Christchurch proud that he was so. It should be remembered that if the City Council had not erected large municipal buildings they had done good work in making the City what it was, a desirable place of residence. It might be said without fear of contradiction that very few cities had made so great an advance, or had effected so many improvements in the same short space of time. What had been done should stimulate the citizens to further exertions; though perhaps under a cloud at present, they should be prepared to put their shoulders to the wheel. If they had made so many improvements during the past thirty-four years, they might reasonably be prepared to expect even greater results in the future. He would not detain them longer except to wish prosperity and success to the new Municipal Buildings and to the Colony generally. He thanked those present for their attendance, and invited them to inspect the picture representing the site as it appeared thirty-four years ago. The following inscription was on the stone:-
"This stone was laid
"March 16, 1886.
"A. Ayers, Mayor.
"S. Hurst Seager, A.R.I.B.A.,
"England and Martin,
The trowel used was of silver, with an ebony handle, and made by Messrs Jones and Gapes. It bore the following inscription, surmounted by the City arms, enclosed in a wreath of ferns:-
"Presented to Aaron Ayers, Esq., Mayor of Christchurch, By the contractors, Messrs England and Martin, on the occasion of his laying the foundation stone of the Municipal Building. March 16, 1886."
After the ceremony, His Worship invited the Councillors and ex-members of the Council to a glass of wine in the temporary offices, where the health of the ex-Mayor, Mr C. P. Hulbert, was drunk and responded to.
The Star, Issue 5568, 16 March 1886, Page 3.

Lochhead, Ian J. 'Seager, Samuel Hurst 1855 - 1933'. Dictionary of New Zealand Biography, updated 22 June 2007
URL: http://www.dnzb.govt.nz/

No comments:

Post a Comment