ANZ Bank Chambers

The building at 188 High Street, also known as ANZ Bank Chambers, was built in the first decade of the twentieth century as a combination of offices and commercial shops. 

Manchester Street-Lichfield Street intersection
Manchester Street-Lichfield Street intersection. © Doc Ross

In 1900 part of Town Section 983, on the corner of High Street and Lichfield Street, was owned by Francis Arenas, the vice-consul for Spain and hotelkeeper. In July 1904 he leased the site to Edward Reynolds, a cycle dealer, for thirty one years. A lease for a three storey building on the corner of High Street and Lichfield Street, occupied by a bankrupt cycle shop business run by William Hendry on behalf of Edward Reynolds and Company, was advertised in August 1909. In September 1909, the former lease of Edward Reynolds was transferred to William Albert Paxton Clarkson and Robert Anderson Ballantyne.

The building may have been built prior to 1909. In April 1907, the architectural firm Clarkson and Ballantyne advertised for tenders for the construction of a brick building consisting of offices and shops on the corner of Lichfield Street and High Street.

By 1912 Clarkson and Ballantyne were operating out of offices in the upper floor of the building which had gained the name Tower Chambers (or Clock Tower Chambers) with the address of 184 High Street. At that time J.F. Lewers, a dentist, also had an office on the upper floor. On the street level were shops including Henry Hulston, a tobacconist and hairdresser (190 High Street).

Following the death of William Albert Paxton Clarkson in 1917 the interest in the lease was taken up by Ernest William Clarkson in conjunction with Robert Anderson Ballantyne. In 1920 they transferred the lease to Henry Hulston. Hulston transferred his lease to William Hugh McMenamin in 1928. During the 1930s the offices in Tower Chambers were occupied by various individuals, including Elaine Moody, a guitar teacher, Lucy Cowan, an elocution teacher, and J. Ardagh, a dentist. The ground floor continued to house shops including Todd and Company, outfitters.

In 1938 ownership of the site was transferred to Rita Mabel Batchelor, Irene Gertrude Evans, and Amy Claudine Featherstone. In 1947 they transferred the ownership to Alexander James McDonald and Joseph Brady McDonald. Both remained in ownership until they transferred the section to Australia and New Zealand Bank Limited in 1954. The bank renovated the neighbouring building (180 High Street) while commercial businesses continued to occupy Tower Chambers which was renamed ANZ Bank Chambers.

The bank remained in ownership until 1982. In 1981 the building was registered as a Category 2 Historic Places by the New Zealand Historic Places Trust. In this same year, the property was purchased by Peter John Oakley.

During the 1980s the shop on the corner ground floor was occupied by The Supa Sandwich. In 1987 Sunrise Health and Fitness Studio, a brothel and massage parlour, was operating on the top floor of the building. This floor featured rooms which catered for client’s tastes and spa pools. Around this time the building also featured in a music video Block of Wood by The Bats. In the 1990s the brothel became known as Blondies.

In 1998 the building was purchased by developer Dave Kettle. In 1999 Andrew Hodge and Craig McWilliams purchased the building. Following an arson attack on the brothel, they renovated the building to accommodate their business, Inspirations Metaphysical Gifts. The upper floors were converted into apartments which were first sold in 2003.

The building was damaged in the 22 February 2011 earthquake and was subsequently demolished.