Wellington Town Hall

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Wellington Town Hall
Wellington Town Hall.jpg
General information
Type Town hall, concert hall
Architectural style Neo-Renaissance
Location Corner of Wakefield Street and Civic Square, Wellington
Current tenants Wellington City Council
Construction started 1901
Completed 1904
Owner Wellington City
Design and construction
Architect Joshua Charlesworth
Main contractor Paterson, Martin and Hunter
Designated: 11 December 2003
Reference No. 3275

The Wellington Town Hall is a concert hall and part of the municipal complex in Wellington, New Zealand. The foundation stone for the building was laid in 1901 and construction began the following year. It was officially opened on 7 December 1904.

The Town Hall was originally fronted (on the Cuba Street side) with a Roman styled portico and a 150 foot clock tower. A clock was not installed in the tower until 1922, when John Blundell, owner of The Evening Post newspaper, donated one. In 1934 the tower was removed as a precaution following the 1931 Hawke's Bay earthquake, and the main portico, pediment, balustrade, parapet and bold cornice were also removed. The building was earthquake strengthened in 1943 following an earthquake the previous year. During the strengthening the Corinthian capitals on the exterior were replaced with Tuscan detailing.

The Town Hall may have been a low maintenance priority of councils over the years. By 1973 during a concert (Kenny Rogers and the First Edition) their sound levels caused dust to begin to drift down over the stage. When their music hit a crescendo during the chorus of one piece (may have been Something's Burning), the stage ceiling collapsed on them, dropping pigeon bodies, empty and dead eggs, nesting material and plaster rubble and dust all over the stage and the band's equipment. The concert did continue, with black-dressed stage hands creeping around the stage sweeping up detritus, removing carcasses, and dusting the amplifiers, speaker cases, keyboards, and anything else covered with plaster dust. Shortly after, Wellington citizens began to call for an improved concert venue.[1]

In 1980 the Michael Fowler Centre was built immediately in front of the Town Hall's main entrance in anticipation of the older building's demolition. However the New Zealand Historic Places Trust persuaded the City Council to retain the Town Hall. In 1989 plans were unveiled to create Civic Square between the town hall and the old city library. As part of this, the Town Hall underwent full refurbishment in 1991-1992. During this process the concert chamber was demolished and replaced with reception rooms.

The main auditorium has been rated one of the best in the world for acoustic quality.[2] It has hosted numerous live performances (including The Beatles & The Rolling Stones) as well as fashion shows, debutante balls, political rallies and degree conferrals.

Although the council offices have spread beyond the Town Hall since 1904, the building still houses the offices of the Mayor and Wellington City Council members.

In 2014, quake strengthening was put on hold by the Wellington City Council, after cost projections increased from $43 million[3] to $60 million due to unforeseen technical issues.[4]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Lynne Street, who attended that concert.
  2. ^ Wellington Convention Centre - History of the Town Hall
  3. ^ Katie Chapman (13 June 2013). "Town Hall to be strengthened". The Dominion Post. 
  4. ^ Dave Burgess (14 February 2014). "Wellington's $60 million question". The Dominion Post. 

Sources[edit]

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 41°17′21″S 174°46′38″E / 41.2893°S 174.7773°E / -41.2893; 174.7773