Kennetts Jewellers

Built in 1904, 207-209 High Street was an example of the commercial classicism style of architecture. 

In February 1878, parts of Town Section 984, owned by William Wilson, were advertised for sale. Lot 2 was described as adjoining the Borough Hotel on High Street. Lot 3, was described as ‘…having a frontage of 48 feet to High Street, and immediately adjoining the lot No.2’.

At some point a building was erected on what was probably Lot 3 as in 1884 Robert Kennett, a jeweller who had started his business in 1880, occupied a building which was originally designated the address of 181 High Street.

By December 1886, Robert Kennett had relocated his business to the adjoining premises at 183 High Street and Henry Staunton a bootmaker briefly occupied 181 High Street before relocating by February 1887. By September 1887, the shop was the premises of J. McCallum, a watch and clockmaker. By March 1889, the shop was a jewellery and watchmaker’s store, known as the Excelsior.

In January 1890, David Couper Shier was operating the Excelsior and by October 1891 the business had become known as David Shier and Co. In 1895, the property was purchased by David Couper Shier, watchmaker, and John Shier (the younger), jeweller. The property was transferred from John Shier to his son Malcolm Shier in 1899. By 1900 the business was named Shier and Co.

In May 1903, Clarkson and Ballantyne advertised tenders for the construction of two brick and stone shops for Shier Brothers on High Street. The new premises was designed in the architectural style of commercial classicism. The ground floor had display windows on the street front, while the facade of the first floor featured four arched windows. Set in each of the four windows was a keystone decorated with a face. On either side of the two central windows were pilasters which featured capitals decorated with leaves and fruit. Set above the capitals was an entablature with a dentil frieze. Above this was a cornice. The building was open by 4 March 1904.

In August 1903, George Oswald Viertel, a photographer, leased a part of the building (then still in construction) for five years. This was renewed again in 1908. Viertel claimed to have been the first to have produced photographs of natural colour in both New Zealand and Australia while in residence at this address. In 1911, the lease of Viertel was transferred to John Candlish of Crown Studios.

By 1912 the address of the property had changed to 207-209 High Street.

On 21 June 1914, a fire broke out in the building which damaged Crown Studios on the upper floor. Although D.C. Shier and Co. on the ground floor was damaged by water, it continued to operate. The building was renovated as in November 1915 Crown Studios was advertising that it possessed ‘up to date studios.’ By mid-1918, Crown Studios was known as Millard’s Crown Studios.

Following the death of David Couper Shier in 1942 his interest in the property was transferred to John Harris Shier, Ellis Porter Shier, and Ada Couper Killner in 1943. In 1945 Ada transferred her interest to John and Ellis. Eventually the property passed into the ownership of Albert Ernest William Kincaid.

In 1960 the property, still known as D.C. Shier and Co., was purchased by R.L. Kennett and Company Limited who relocated their business from the adjoining store. By then, Anthony Kennett, the grandson of Robert Kennett, had taken over the management of the jewellery and watchmaking business with his wife, Neroli. Eventually the business came to be known as Kennetts Jewellers. They continued to run the business until the building suffered damage in the Canterbury earthquakes. Following this, in 2011, the building was subsequently demolished.