St Elmo Courts

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St Elmo Courts
St Elmo Court, Jan 2010.jpg
St Elmo Courts in January 2010
General information
TypeApartments in high-rise, mostly converted to offices
LocationCorner Hereford and Montreal Streets, Christchurch Central City
Address47 Hereford Street
Coordinates43°31′55″S 172°37′52″E / 43.5319°S 172.6310°E / -43.5319; 172.6310
Construction started1930
DemolishedMarch 2011
Technical details
Floor count8
Design and construction
ArchitectB. J. Ager
Reference no.3133
"St Elmo Courts". Register of Historic Places. Heritage New Zealand. Retrieved 21 March 2011.

St Elmo Courts was a residential high rise building constructed in 1930 in the city centre of Christchurch, New Zealand. Used mainly as an office building in later years, it had a Category II heritage listing by the New Zealand Historic Places Trust. It was demolished in March 2011, having suffered significant damage in the 2010 Canterbury earthquake and more damage in the subsequent February 2011 Christchurch earthquake.


The site of the building, on the corner of Hereford and Montreal Streets, was occupied by the St Elmo Boarding House. It was advertised as "superior private accommodation".[1] A replacement building, St Elmo Courts, was designed in 1929 by B. J. Ager.[2] This reflected a movement in the larger New Zealand cities in the 1920s and 1930s for apartment living. The appeals were inexpensive living in a central location, with apartments offering modern conveniences and built in furniture.[3] St Elmo Courts was constructed in 1930.[4] Accordingly, St Elmo Court provided bedsits and two-bedroom apartments. Many of those were later converted to office space.[5]

After the 2010 Canterbury earthquake, the building was yellow stickered (meaning restricted access only).[6] The building's owner and his insurance company agreed that it was too damaged after the 22 February 2011 earthquake for it to be saved. Demolition began on 20 March 2011.[7]

Structural design and failure mechanism[edit]

Demolition of St Elmo Courts in March 2011.
Shear failure detail.

St Elmo Court had a light reinforced concrete frame that was infilled with masonry. Following the 4 September 2010 earthquake, diagonal shear cracks were visible in the façade in the vertical piers.[8] One column had a shear failure. The damage became more extensive in the 22 February 2011 earthquake.[9]


A modern, 5-storey replacement has been constructed on the Hereford Street site.[10] The new building is to 180% of the new building code, and features base isolators. Law firm Wynn Williams has taken naming rights and the building is now called Wynn Williams House.

Heritage listing[edit]

On 26 November 1981, the building was registered by the New Zealand Historic Places Trust as a Category II historic place, with the registration number being 3133.[4]


  1. ^ "St Elmo Boarding House on Worcester Street, between Montreal Street and Cambridge Terrace, was advertised as superior private accommodation". Christchurch City Libraries. 1921. Retrieved 20 March 2011.
  2. ^ "St Elmo Courts (1st of 2)". Te Ara – the Encyclopedia of New Zealand. Retrieved 20 March 2011.
  3. ^ "City flats". Te Ara – the Encyclopedia of New Zealand. Retrieved 20 March 2011.
  4. ^ a b "St Elmo Courts". NZHPT. Retrieved 20 March 2011.
  5. ^ "St Elmo Courts floor plan (2nd of 2)". Te Ara – the Encyclopedia of New Zealand. Retrieved 20 March 2011.
  6. ^ "Quake: Day three as it happened". TVNZ. 6 September 2010. Retrieved 20 March 2011.
  7. ^ Brown, Giles; Keith Lynch (21 March 2011). "Heritage building too damaged to save". The Press. p. A3. Retrieved 21 March 2011.
  8. ^ Knox, Charlotte. "Central Christchurch – Before and After the Earthquake– a Photo Essay" (PDF). New Zealand Society for Earthquake Engineering Inc. p. 7. Retrieved 20 March 2011.[permanent dead link]
  9. ^ Weng, Y Kam. "PRELIMINARY REPORT FROM THE CHRISTCHURCH 22 FEB 2011 6.3MW EARTHQUAKE: PRE-1970S RC AND RCM BUILDINGS, AND PRECAST STAIRCASE DAMAGE". New Zealand Society for Earthquake Engineering Inc. p. 2. Archived from the original (PDF) on 11 March 2011. Retrieved 20 March 2011.
  10. ^ "A new building on the cutting edge". The Press. Retrieved 27 April 2012.