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Southland Building Society

Built in 1883 for Milner and Thompson's Music Depot, 226 High Street was originally known for its decorative façade.

In April 1882, Milner and Thompson’s Music Depot, situated in Wilson’s Buildings on the corner of High Street and Cashel Street, acquired the freehold of an adjacent section on part of Town Section 836 with the intention of erecting a new building. The section had a frontage on High Street and backed onto a right of way which led from Cashel Street to Hereford Street.

The architect, Frederick Strouts, drew the architectural plans for the new building and advertised the tender for the building’s construction in June 1882. Consisting of three floors and a cellar, the ground floor was intended to accommodate a shop, offices, and a box office for theatre performances. From the ground floor, a staircase led to the first floor. Above the landing was a recess in the rear wall of the building, which featured an arched stained glass window that was decorated with figures associated with music. The first floor of the building was a showroom, and from there, an iron spiral staircase led to the second floor above.

The façade facing High Street was extensively decorated. The central window of the first floor was shaped like an organ and featured a balcony made of white stone and Petershead granite. There were two pilasters on either side of this window, topped by an entablature and pediment. On either side of the central window were two arched windows. On the exterior of the second floor were five arched windows and medallions of composers Joseph Haydn and Carl Maria von Weber. The entablature was topped with balustrades and two pediments with lyres at either end and a central pedestal atop of which was a statue of the Greek god, Apollo.

An advertisement for the property adjacent to the north, dated January 1885, described the building of Milner and Thompson’s Music Depot as having ‘one of the most handsome fronts in the Colony’.

Milner and Thompson appear to have relocated from their former shop in Wilson’s Buildings to the new building by May 1883. Initially the address of Milner and Thompson’s Music Depot was 206 High Street. It was also known as Milner and Thompson’s Music Saloon and Milner and Thompson’s Music Warehouse.

By 1895, the building could no longer provide the adequate space required by Milner and Thompson. In October they relocated to a new premises on the corner of Manchester Street and Bedford Row. By January 1896, their former building on High Street was advertised for lease. On 11 August 1896, the Commercial Club opened its new clubrooms in the building with a lease of fourteen years.

To accommodate the club, which occupied the first and second floors, alterations were made to the building by W. Jacques. Situated on the first floor, which was now accessible via a staircase in the neighbouring building, was a billiards room with a small bar and lavatories. A staircase from the billiards room led up to a vestibule on the upper floor which was used as the club’s social hall. Two smaller rooms, a room for playing cards, and a reading room, were accessible from the vestibule. Both were 24 feet long and 12 feet wide. On the top of the building was a storage area accessible by a lift in the right of way behind the building.

On 9 September 1896, the Commercial Restaurant opened on the ground floor of the building. Adjoining the restaurant was an oyster, poultry, and game shop with aquariums and a fountain. By November 1897, George R. Fail was operating the Commercial Restaurant. In December 1898, the Commercial Club advertised its lease with twelve years left.

Fail appears to have taken up the lease as he was operating The Commercial Restaurant and a Fish Department in the following year. In 1903 he purchased the property.

George Fail sold the property in November 1906 to Mary Ellen Gertrude Darby, wife of Bernard Darby, a chemist. Tenders were advertised in March 1907 for renovations to be made to the building, still occupied by Fail, for Wallace and Co., chemists (Bernard Darby had purchased the chemist business, Wallace and Co., from Charles A. Fletcher in 1902). In June 1907, Fail relocated his fish business to the site of Wallace and Co.’s former premises in High Street before putting his fish business up for sale in December 1907.

Wallace and Co. remained in occupation until August 1934 when the company amalgamated with another pharmacy, McArthurs Limited, and vacated their premises at 226 High Street.

Following this, the building had some short term tenants. In January 1936, it was the premises of Maeder Salon. Beth’s fur clothing store was in occupancy in 1937 but in August, Universal Fur opened their shop in the building. In 1944, the building was purchased by Andrew Lees Limited, glass, paint, and wallpaper merchants. The company moved in by September 1944 and remained in occupancy until 1978.

In 1979, the building was purchased by Timothy Charles Glasson. In 1982, it was occupied by Broadlands Savings and Loans. By 1989, the Southland Building and Investment Society was in occupancy.

Prior to the Canterbury earthquakes, the building was occupied by the snowboarding and skateboarding store, Quest. After the earthquakes, the building was subsequently demolished.