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Lawrie and Wilson

Built in 1910, the building at 210 Tuam Street was originally a showroom for furniture auctioneers, Lawrie and Wilson.

CCC Traffic Department/Laurie & Wilson Auctioneers
Christchurch City Council on Tuam Street.CC BY-NC-ND 3.0 NZ

210 Tuam Street is situated on part of Town Section 1135 which, from 1908 to 1913, was occupied by the coal and timber firm, R. W. England and Sons. During their occupancy, part of this section was subdivided, forming the separate address of 210 Tuam Street. This property was purchased by James Thomas Lawrie and Harry Wilson, and by 1910 constructed had started on a new building.

Having both worked as carvers and furniture manufacturers, Lawrie and Wilson established a partnership to sell and auction furniture direct from their factory. The building was completed by 11 July 1910 when it opened with a social function. 

Although built from brick, the two storey building featured a 28 feet wide façade made from Oamaru stone. Designed in Edwardian Classicism, the façade was carved by Wilson and featured elaborate decorative motifs, including two parrots which were generally regarded as a symbol of prosperity. The ground floor featured a furniture show room, an auction room, and an office. Stairs led up to the first floor which was a general show room. 

On 16 May 1913, Lawrie and Wilson dissolved their partnership. In place of Wilson, Lawrie went into partnership with Thomas Dalton, becoming the firm Lawrie and Dalton.

Although Lawrie died on 15 August 1934, the firm continued to trade under his name. In 1936, the building was advertised for sale as part of Lawrie’s estate. It was eventually sold on behalf of the trustees of Lawrie by March 1938.

After being purchased by a new owner, the ground floor of the building was subsequently occupied by Andersen and Hudson Leather Merchants, and in July the first floor became Fritz Holland’s Gymnasium. The first floor was damaged when a fire swept through the gymnasium on 21 April 1939.

From 1951 to 1954, Modern Fashions was situated on the first floor. Once again, a fire broke out on the first floor on 23 September 1955, but the damage was minimal. From 1964 to 1968, the occupant of the first floor was Tailored Fashions. 

In 1971, the building was occupied by Garden City Entertainment Centre. In July 1972, a license for a dance hall on the first floor was granted by the council.

The Pink Pussycat Club, a strip club, opened on the first floor on 8 March 1973. Originally, Terry Priest, in his role as manager for the club, applied for a licence on 28 February 1973. This was declined by the Christchurch City Council. One of the owners of the club, Rainton James Hastie, applied for the licence on 7 March 1973. When the club opened on the following day, it was the second strip club to be operating in Christchurch. Yet to get around the need for a licence, the club advertised that it was only open to members. Hastie's application was declined and he applied again in May. A licence was finally granted on 16 July 1973 after another application was made, this time in the name of Pinky Pussycat Company whose directors included Hastie, Kathleen Rose Hastie, and Herbert James Hastie.

By May 1978, the owner of the club was J. S. Nicholson. The club closed later in the year, as by December 1978, the first floor had been repurposed by Geoff Goodson as the Diamond Horseshoe Restaurant which offered cabaret performances. However, by June 1979, the first floor was a night club, Zippers Nite Spot. In August 1979, the venue became Rock City, before being renamed as Strummers in November 1979. 

The Pink Panther strip theatre opened on the first floor by August 1980. From 1985 to 1989, the first floor was Whites Signs. City Photographics operated on the ground floor as Photek Laboratories from 1983. 

The building was purchased by Christchurch City Council in 1990. After meetings held in April 1991, the council decided to demolish the building and convert the land into a car park. However, it was eventually decided to retain the building for use as storage. By 1995, the need for more parking, as a result of council staff relocating to the civic offices on Tuam Street, resulted in the council once again considering demolition of the building. However, the building was restored, and in October 1997, it reopened as the Parking Unit building of the Christchurch City Council. 

The building was purchased by Environment Canterbury (ECan) in 2020 and reopened in July 2022. At the time, the ground floor was rented by Taumata Arowai while the first floor is an office for Environment Canterbury.