Athenic Building

Martin’s Building

45-47 Courtenay Place, Te Aro, Wellington
Map
  • Constructed

    1922 - 1922

  • Builder(s)

    Builder: Alex Campbell & Son - Structural Engineer: S. T. Silver

  • Built in 1922, this building is a rare and distinctive design, being an example of the transition between Classical and Art Deco architectural styles. The decorative motifs on the pilasters and the spandrels are precursors to the elaborate geometric details that became popular with the Art Deco style.

    The building has historic links to the film industry, with many early occupants being agencies and distributors for American production companies.

    The building makes a positive contribution to the streetscape of the Courtenay Place Heritage Area.

    The materials, appearance and workmanship of the façade of this 1922 building and its 1923 4th floor addition are largely authentic.

  • close History
    • The building was originally known as the ‘New Martin’s Building’. It was designed by little-known architect H.C. Walton for the original owner, Wellingtonian James William Martin. Martin was a boot importer and member of the Courtenay Place Area Association. In drawing up the 1922 plans Walton was assisted by the structural engineer S.T. Silver, who did calculations for beam sizes. The builder contracted for the work was Alex Campbell and Son and the estimated cost of the three-level structure was £6950. An additional storey built the following year cost an £2,000.

      The building was originally designed and built for shops and office space. A range of tenants have occupied the building, most for relatively short periods of time. For several decades, untl the late 1950s, the building was something of a home to players in the early film and cinematography business, perhaps not surprisingly given the great many picture theatres that had sprung up in the vicinity of Courtenay Place. In the 1920s, Selznick Pictures, an agency of the Australasian arm of the American production company set up by film industry pioneer Lewis Selznick, occupied part of the building, along with local agencies of Universal Pictures and First National Pictures, also American production companies. In the early 1940s Joseph Vinsen sold cinematography supplies, and in the 1950s Murray Hurdle pursued the same line of work from rooms in the building. From the early 1950s until the 1960s, Scammell & Eglington, motion picture engineers, also occupied rooms in the building. Later, in the 1960s, there was an assortment of other occupants, including the Delahunt School of Modelling and, in the 1970s, Jimmy James operated a studio for Ballroom Dancing.

      In 1962 Louisa Papageorgiou purchased the building and renamed it the ‘Athenic Building’, presumably in honour of her Greek heritage. Today the building is still in use as retail and office space.

    • Modifications close
      • 1922
      • Built. (00055:7:A659)
      • 1923
      • Additional storey, cost £2,000. (00055:16:A1552)
      • 1934
      • Sign erected. (00056:146:B13125)
      • 1939
      • Shops remodelled. (00056:234:B19659)
      • 1955
      • Shop alterations. (00056:506:B37917)
      • 1972
      • Building additions and alterations. (00058:808:C36238)
      • 1999
      • Construction of tenancy wall and strengthening of hole in floor. (00078:260:54597)
      • 1999
      • Office kitchen renovated to comply with requirements of unregistered eating kitchen. (00078:220:52224)
      • 2005
      • Alterations to ground floor shop. (00078:2212:125369)
      • 2006
      • Restaurant additions and alterations. (00078:2188:145208)
      • 2007
      • Dwelling additions and alterations, level 2. (00078:1988:163597)
      • 2007
      • Restaurant additions and alterations. (00078:2094:161407)
      • 2009
      • Amended head and sill details to level 4 exterior windows. (00078:2861:170341)
    • Occupation History close
      • 1924
      • Selznick Pictures , NZ Film
      • 1925
      • Selznick Pictures Ltd, Universal Pictures Corp, Premier (First) National Pictures
      • 1941
      • NZR Booking Office , W. Warner, Joseph Vinsen (cinematography supplies) , Jason F Ewen, taylor , Ted Edward (novelties) ,Jenkins & Co Ltd, EM (soft goods) , De Forest Phn films NZ
      • 1948 - 1949
      • Zip Heaters Ltd , Sutherland & Wilkinson (motor engineer)
      • 1952
      • Regal Quick Lunch, NZR Booking Office , Jenkins & Co Ltd (soft goods) , Murray Hurdle, (cinematography supplies) , Apex Films Ltd ,Scammell & Eglington (motion picture supplies) , FJ Ewen, tlr, De Forest Phn films NZ Ltd.
      • 1961
      • Regal Sponge Kitchen, Warner Linotype service printers, Jason F Ewen (taylor) ,Service Federation of NZ Industries Ltd, Jenkins & Co Ltd EM (manufacturers of ladies and staff wear), Gisbourne Garmets, Delahunt Modelling School , Scammell & Eglington, motion picture engineers, Andrea Theatrette , Martin McNeil & Co Ltd (electrical appliances)
      • 1967 - 1968
      • Regal Sponge Kitchen, Delahunt School of Modelling ,Jenkins & Co Ltd EM, clothing manufacturer , Gisbourne Garments Ltd , Andrea Theatrette Film Services, Warner Linotype serv, printers, Edward H. King (ladies wear manufacturers)
      • 1975
      • Jimmy James Studio Ballroom Dancing ,LV Martin & Son, NZBC Engineering Services, Cheeryn Lee Coiffures
      • 1977
      • Jimmy James Studio, Ballroom Dancing, LV Martin & Son, NZBC Engineering Services
      • 1980
      • Jennifer’s Patisserie, LV Matin and Sons Ltd, NZBC Engineering Services
      • 1995
      • International Correspondence School , Jennifer’s Patisserie, UFS Pharmacy, Wellington Savage Club
  • close Architectural Information
    • Building Classification(s) close

      Not assessed

    • Architecture close

      The Athenic Building is a tall four-storeyed concrete construction of elegant vertical proportions constructed fully in reinforced concrete walls, floors, columns and beams.

      Its street façade is symmetrically arranged about a narrow central bay and features pilasters rising the full height to a pediment, with the intervening spaces divided between bands of windows and decorated spandrel panels. Period lettering appropriately fills three of the spandrel panels with the date and name of the building. The decorative motifs on the pilasters and the spandrels are precursors to the elaborate geometric details that became popular with the Art Deco style. This is a particularly early example of the style that was named in 1925 for the Exposition Internationale des Arts Decoratifs et Industrials Modernes held in Paris in that year, but that had evolved gradually in the early 2othC from a mix of influences including Art Nouveau and Cubism.

      While shop fronts and the verandah of the Athenic Building have been altered, and the top floor window casements modified slightly, the facade is otherwise in its original form. For all its originality and oddity the building is well proportioned, has a decorative interest and contributes to the townscape of the area.

    • Materials close

      Brick structure, cement render, steel and timber window joinery.

    • Setting close

      The Athenic Building is located in a block of buildings on the south side of Courtenay Place. This section of Courtenay Place is characterised by its continuous line of buildings between Cambridge Terrace and Tory Street which emphasise the original survey line. The buildings are diverse in age and nature (particularly heights) but, despite some particularly intrusive modern buildings, have a high streetscape quality which contributes significantly to the heritage value and character of Courtenay Place as a whole.

  • close Cultural Value

    Built in 1922, this building is a rare and distinctive design, being an example of the transition between Classical and Art Deco architectural styles. The decorative motifs on the pilasters and the spandrels are precursors to the elaborate geometric details that became popular with the Art Deco style.

    The building has historic links to the film industry, with many early occupants being agencies and distributors for American production companies.

    The building makes a positive contribution to the streetscape of the Courtenay Place Heritage Area.

    The materials, appearance and workmanship of the façade of this 1922 building and its 1923 4th floor addition are largely authentic.

    • Aesthetic Value close
      • Architectural

        Does the item have architectural or artistic value for characteristics that may include its design, style, era, form, scale, materials, colour, texture, patina of age, quality of space, craftsmanship, smells, and sounds?

        The Athenic Building is an example of the transition period between Classical and Art Deco architectural styles, and is notable for its elegant proportions. The decorative motifs on the pilasters and the spandrels are precursors to the elaborate geometric details that became popular with the Art Deco style.

      • Group

        Is the item part of a group of buildings, structures, or sites that taken together have coherence because of their age, history, style, scale, materials, or use?

        The building is part of an important group of heritage buildings which together form the Courtenay Place Heritage Area. Although most of the buildings were constructed in the first half of the 20th century, there are significant differences in age and style among some of the buildings in this group.

      • Townscape

        Does the item have townscape value for the part it plays in defining a space or street; providing visual interest; its role as a landmark; or the contribution it makes to the character and sense of place of Wellington?

        This building contributes positively to the character and townscape of Courtenay Place.

    • Historic Value close
      • Association

        Is the item associated with an important historic event, theme, pattern, phase, or activity?

        This building was built as part of the rapid commercial development of Courtenay Place in the decades before the Depression. 



        The building was home to a number of organisations and businesses associated with the film industry in New Zealand, most notably – in the 1920s – the local agencies of American production companies.

    • Scientific Value close
      • Archaeological

        Does the item have archaeological value for its ability to provide scientific information about past human activity?

        There was pre-1900 human activity on this site. Although some of the sites have been altered by rebuilding or landscaping or sub-divisional change, there is archaeological value in the site.

    • Social Value close
      • Identity Sense Of Place Continuity

        Is the item a focus of community, regional, or national identity? Does the item contribute to sense of place or continuity?

        This building is part of a group of commercial buildings in Courtenay Place which contribute to the sense of place and continuity of the Courtenay Place Heritage Area.

    • Level of Cultural Heritage Significance close
      • Authentic

        Does the item have authenticity or integrity because it retains significant fabric from the time of its construction or from later periods when important additions or modifications were carried out?

        The materials, appearance and workmanship of the façade of this 1922 building and its 1923 addition are largely authentic.

    • Local / Regional / National / International Importance close

      Not assessed

  • close Site Detail
    • District Plan Number

      16/63.7 (front facade - first floor and above)

    • Legal Description

      Pt Sec 277 Town of Wellington

    • Heritage New Zealand Listed

      Not listed

    • Archaeological Site

      Central City NZAA R27/270

    • Current Uses

      unknown

    • Former Uses

      unknown

    • Has building been funded

      No

    • Funding Amount

      Not applicable

    • Earthquake Prone Status

      124 Notice

  • close Additional Information
    • Sources close
      • CTWN11/222, Land Information New Zealand
      • CTWN672/64, Land Information New Zealand
      • Kelly, Michael and Russell Murray, Courtenay Place Heritage Area Report. Welllington City Council: Unpublished report, prepared for Plan Change 48, 2006.
      • Stones Directory 1925 and 1935.
      • Wellington City Council, Wellington Heritage Building Inventory 1995. Wellington City Council, 1995.
      • Wellington City Council, Wellington Heritage Building Inventory 2001: Non-Residential Buildings. Wellington City Council, 2001.
      • Wises Directories: 1924, 1941, 1948/9, 1952, 1961/2, 1967/8, 1975, 1980, 1995.
      • “Courtenay-Place: Meeting Of Area Association”, Evening Post, Volume CIII, Issue 73, 28 March 1922, Page 8.
      • “47-49 Courtenay Place, shops”, October 12, 1922, 00055:7:A659, Wellington City Archives.
      • “47 Courtenay Place, additional storey”, June 13, 1923, 00055:16:A1552, Wellington City Archives.
      • “47 Courtenay Place, erect sign”, May 21, 1934, 00056:146:B13125, Wellington City Archives.
      • “45-47 Courtenay Place, remodel shops”, August 17, 1939, 00056:234:B19659, Wellington City Archives.
      • “47 Courtenay Place, building additions and alterations”, September 14, 1972, 00058:808:C36238, Wellington City Archives.
      • “47 Courtenay Place, building alterations – partitions”, September 27, 1972, 00058:810:C36322, Wellington City Archives.
      • “55 Courtenay Place [45 Courtenay Place], additions and alterations”, 1999, 00078:260:54597, Wellington City Archives.
      • “55 Courtenay Place [45 Courtenay Place], amendment”, 1999, 00078:339:57151, Wellington City Archives.
      • “45-47 Courtenay Place, additions and alterations”, April 13, 1999, 00078:220:52224, Wellington City Archives.
      • “45-47 Courtenay Place, alterations to ground floor shop”, 2005, 00078:2212:125369, Wellington City Archives.
      • “45 Courtenay Place, restaurant additions and alterations”, 2006, 00078:2188:145208, Wellington City Archives.
      • “45 Courtenay Place, dwelling additions and alterations, level 2”, 2007, 00078:1988:163597, Wellington City Archives.
      • “45 Courtenay Place, restaurant additions and alterations”, 2007, 00078:2094:161407, Wellington City Archives.
      • “45 Courtenay Place, Amended Plan#1 - Commercial - Athenic Building - Amended head and sill details to level 4 exterior windows”, 2009, 00078:2861:170341, Wellington City Archives.
      • “45-47 Courtenay Place, shop alterations”, May 17, 1955, 00056:506:B37917, Wellington City Archives.
    • Technical Documentation close
    • Footnotes close

      Not available

Last updated: 20/04/2017 3:50:59 a.m.