Plaque to mark building's history
A plaque highlighting the historical importance of Napier’s first Council building will be officially unveiled on Wednesday, 4 November.
The late Art Deco enthusiast and historian Robert McGregor came up with the idea of the plaque for the Borough Council Chambers, on Byron Street and now used by Creative Arts Napier. His daughter is making the trip to Napier especially for the ceremony.
The building, listed as Category 2 with the Historic Places Trust, originally stood on the corner of Tennyson Street and Marine Parade, where MTG Hawke’s Bay’s main entrance is now.
Designed by Robert Lamb, it opened in 1884 and was one of the few buildings in the Central Business District to survive virtually unscathed from the 1931 Hawke’s Bay earthquake and the fires which followed.
In 1950 when Napier officially became a city it was remodelled to give it a more up-to-date look, including having its exterior walls covered with stucco and the decorative details removed. An Art Deco flourish was added to the Council Chamber entrance.
Twelve mayors of Napier presided over the city from the building, until the current Civic Building opened in 1968.
Afterwards it was used for several different things, mainly as the education discovery centre for the then Hawke’s Bay Museum and Art Gallery.
As a founding member of the Art Deco Trust, Robert was a strong advocate for ensuring the history of each building be recorded in a formal capacity, said Art Deco Trust General Manager Sally Jackson.
"When this building was renovated the opportunity for a heritage plaque came up and prior to his passing earlier this year Robert provided the information for the plaque," Sally says.
“I think Robert would have been extremely pleased with the installation, knowing the heritage value of the building will be recognised and on display in perpetuity.”
2 November 2015