Arco House

45 Cuba Street

45-47 Cuba Street, Te Aro, Wellington
Map
  • Constructed

    1908

  • Architect(s)

    Trevor and Sons

  • Builder(s)

  • Arco House is an Edwardian Stripped Classical commercial building that was adapted in the mid-1950s as a retail unit, and warehouse for a manufacturing jeweller and optician/lens grinder. 

    The building retains a historic association with builders James Trevor and Co. and also with Arthur Cocks & Co. a wholesale jeweller, optician and importer, for which the building was renamed in the 1950s. The plans to convert the building into premises for Arthur Cocks & Co. survive and give a good insight into the work of a mid-to-late 20th century manufacturing jewellery and optician. 

    The plain building façade above ground floor level has had few intrusive or unsympathetic alterations over the past 100 years and makes a positive contribution to the sense of place and continuity of the Cuba Street Heritage Area.

  • close History
    • This building was built by James Trevor and Sons Ltd in 1908. Trevor was a well-known Wellington contractor known as a skilful builder and hard worker, with ‘fine hearty Yorkshire ways’ who built ‘monuments to his industry’ all over Wellington. Trevor owned the building until 1923 when Mary Smith and Sarah Smith purchased the property. The ownership of the building was transferred several times until Arthur Cocks & Co. purchased the building in 1953.

      Arthur Cocks & Co was a wholesale jeweller, optician and importer. The company had been established in Sydney, Australia in 1899 by Arthur Cocks who was not only an established businessman, he was also a jeweller and politician, Congregational Church layman, deacon, lay preacher and Sunday school superintendent. The jewellery and manufacturing business was restructured in 1911 and by 1914 had branches in Adelaide, Melbourne and Brisbane. The business opened an office in New Zealand at an unknown date before 1953. Cocks remained managing director until 1939. 

      When Arthur Cocks & Co purchased the building they renamed it ‘Arco House’. They occupied all three floors and the basement. Shortly after purchasing the property they undertook an extensive renovation to plans designed by architect William J. McKeon. The refurbishment included removal of the acroterion, replacement of the parapet above the cornice and adding their name ‘ARCO’ to the sign. They also installed everything necessary for their operation, including a showroom with glass and plywood cabinets, a workshop fitted with grindstones and sinks, a staffroom, a packing room with machinery and a record room. This renovation gave the building much of its current character.

      From 1973 James Smith’s occupied the building for 15 years as part of their Cuba Street operation until they closed their doors in 1988. The building’s ownership has been transferred several times since James Smith vacated the premises. Past owners include Sheehans Wines & Spirits Ltd and Legend Holdings Ltd. In 1996 the building was purchased by ‘Arco House’ and it remains in their ownership today. Largely because of the permanence of the signage the building has retained its name.

    • Modifications close
      • 1908
      • Building constructed by James Trevor and Sons. (00053:145:8060)
      • 1933
      • Sign erected. (00056:140:B12650)
      • 1954
      • Major alterations to a design by Architect William J. McKeon - window sashes
      • 1954
      • altered, roof replaced, parapet reduced, new lift installed and pediment removed. (00056:477:B359664)
      • 1978
      • Opening between 1st floor party-wall with adjacent 49 Cuba created (00058:1164:C50142)
      • 1979
      • 2nd floor tearoom altered. (00058:1196:C51361)
      • 1989
      • Business additions and alterations – shop, including a new street entrance. (00059:315:E18109)
      • 1994
      • Seismic strengthening to basement, ground floor and first floor.
      • 1994
      • Undertaken by Dunning Thornton Consultants. (00060:161:5888)
      • 1994
      • Verandah added . (00060:161:5889)
      • 2001
      • New entry to basement, alterations to the ground floor and 1st & 2nd floors.
      • 2001
      • Shop front altered. (00078:1451:77346)
    • Occupation History close
      • 1910 - 1925
      • Lawrence & Hanson, electrical engineers & importers.
      • 1915 - 1925
      • McPhee & Co, woollen warehousemen.
      • 1940 - 1955
      • Sutherland & Wilkinson, motor engineers & garage.
      • 1940 - 1951
      • Zip-Heaters Ltd
      • 1955 - 1990
      • Cocks & Co, wholesale opticians, jewellers & importers.
  • close Architectural Information
    • Building Classification(s) close

      Not assessed

    • Architecture close

      Arco House was designed as an Edwardian Stripped Classical commercial building comprising of three storeys above ground plus a basement. The building was adapted in the mid 1950s and became the retail outlet and workshop for a manufacturing jeweller and optician/lens grinder.

      The parapet appears to have been altered in circa 1953 when the original parapet, with a simple unadorned pediment, was replaced with a horizontal band with raised lettering forming the words ‘ARCO HOUSE’. There are two rectangular rainwater ‘hoppers’ at each end of the dentilled cornice that connect to what appears to be modern PVC rainwater pipes. The large windows to the street façade are set out symmetrically with two wide central windows flanked by a tall / narrow window all of which are set over recessed panels. The windows and panels on the first floor are slightly shorter than those on the ground, and this was perhaps designed deliberately to give an optical illusion of increased height, although this subtlety is not shown on the original plans. The windows on the first and second floor appear to have been replaced in 1953 when the building was refurbished to form the show rooms, offices, workshops and warehouse for ‘Arco House’.

      The ground floor shop front and entrance to the offices above have since been much altered and the glazed verandah is an intrusive modern intervention. 

    • Materials close

      Probably brick masonry with applied render over; the original floor between ground and basement appears to have been concrete; the floors above appear to have been timber joists spanning onto steel structural beams supported by cast iron columns; the roof structure appears to be a timber roof truss. A site visit is required to verify.

    • Setting close

      Arco House is a carefully proportioned Stripped Classical building that, because of its scale, form and proportion and its deeply-recessed windows, sits comfortably with its more elaborate neighbours. It is unfortunate that the building’s poorly designed modern glass verandah detracts somewhat from its streetscape quality.

      Arco House is located in Block 1 of the Cuba Street Heritage Area and this first block of Cuba Street is also the tallest, with buildings between three and eight stories high (the median height is expressed by the five storey James Smiths building). Although the street is widest in this block, the proportions of the tall buildings create a strong sense of enclosure to the street, in contrast to the more open aspect of the other parts of the street. Most of the buildings in this block have attached verandahs, some original, which come in a variety of styles, do not conform to any continuous elevation line, and contribute to a general visual untidiness in the lower part of the streetscape. This street-level clutter has, however, been improved by the recent alterations to the landscaping of lower Cuba Street including the removal of the plethora of bus shelters directly in front of the former James Smith department store building.

      The character of the block is perhaps best illustrated by James Smiths building where the Art Deco façade turns around the corner from Manners Street and meets into a strong 50s modernist box along Cuba Street. The other buildings in this block are a heterogeneous mix of ages, types and styles which assemble to create a varied and interesting streetscape. The overall heritage and streetscape value of the block is reasonably high as many prominent Edwardian commercial buildings – Columbia Hotel, Kennedy building, T.G. McCarthy Trust, Last Footwear and others – remain to reinforce the line of the street wall and provide a high level of detail and visual variety to that street wall. Some of the modern buildings make a positive contribution to the street wall, including the former MED building and James Smiths. These buildings represent a quite diverse group of purposes and architectural styles which neatly encapsulates the history of 20th century development in this area.

  • close Cultural Value

    Arco House is an Edwardian Stripped Classical commercial building that was adapted in the mid-1950s as a retail unit, and warehouse for a manufacturing jeweller and optician/lens grinder.

    The building retains a historic association with builders James Trevor and Co. and also with Arthur Cocks & Co. a wholesale jeweller, optician and importer, for which the building was renamed in the 1950s. The plans to convert the building into premises for Arthur Cocks & Co. survive and give a good insight into the work of a mid-to-late 20th century manufacturing jewellery and optician.

    The plain building façade above ground floor level has had few intrusive or unsympathetic alterations over the past 100 years and makes a positive contribution to the sense of place and continuity of the Cuba Street Heritage Area.

    • 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?

        Arco House is an Edwardian Stripped Classical commercial building that was adapted in the mid-1950s as a retail unit, and warehouse for a manufacturing jeweller and optician/lens grinder. The street façade has little applied decoration, when compared with its neighbour at 41 – 43 Cuba Street, but the building has value as a good ‘transition-piece’ between the elaborate Edwardian building to its north and the modern curtain wall former James Smith department store to its south.

      • 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 makes a positive contribution to the Cuba Street Heritage Area.

      • 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?

        The building makes a positive contribution to lower Cuba Street, and the proportions and scale which provide a good counterpoint to the buildings around it.

    • Historic Value close
      • Association

        Is the item associated with an important person, group, or organisation?

        The building retains a historic association with James Trevor and Co., a successful building firm in late 19th and early 20th century Wellington, and Arthur Cocks & Co. a now defunct wholesale jeweller, optician and importer, for which the building was renamed in the 1950s.


      • Association

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

        The building is associated with the development of commerce in Cuba Street in the Edwardian era partly due to the introduction of electric trams to the city centre.

    • 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 subdivisional change, there is archaeological value in the immediate surrounds.

    • 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?

        The building façade above ground floor level has had few intrusive or unsympathetic alterations over the past 100 years and makes a positive contribution to the sense of place and continuity of the Cuba Street 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 building façade above verandah level has had relatively few alterations since the building was refurbished in the 1950s 

      • Local Regional National International

        Is the item important for any of the above characteristics at a local, regional, national, or international level?

        This building is of local importance for its contribution to the Cuba Street Heritage Area.

      • Representative

        Is the item a good example of the class it represents?

        The building is a good representative example of a stripped Classical commercial building. 

    • Local / Regional / National / International Importance close

      Not assessed

  • close Site Detail
    • District Plan Number

      16/74.1

    • Legal Description

      Lot 5 DP 845

    • Heritage New Zealand Listed

      Not Listed

    • Archaeological Site

      Central City NZAA R27/270

    • Current Uses

      unknown

    • Former Uses

      unknown

    • Has building been funded

      Yes

    • Funding Amount

      $12,500.00

    • Funding Details

      March 2013 - Grant of $12,500 awarded in contribution towards earthquake strengthening.

      Funding Type: Seismic Strengthening.

    • Earthquake Prone Status

      Not Earthquake Prone

  • close Additional Information
    • Sources close
      • CT WN 92/231, Land Information New Zealand
      • CT WN 373/163, Land Information New Zealand
      • Gerathy, Greta. “Cocks, Sir Arthur Alfred Clement (1862–1943)”, Australian Dictionary of Biography. Accessed June 20, 2012.
      • Kelly, Michael and Russell Murray, Cuba Street Heritage Area Report. Wellington City Council: Unpublished report, prepared for Plan Change 48, 2006.
      • Stones Street Directory – 1910/11, 1915/16, 1920, 1925, 1940 and 1945.
      • Wellington City Council, Wellington Heritage Building Inventory 1995. Wellington City Council, 1995.
      • Wises Street Directory – 1950/51, 1955, 1961/62, 1967/68, 1971/72, 1975 and 1990.
      • “Obituary”, Dominion, Volume 8, Issue 2461, 14 May 1915, Page 7.
      • 45-47 Cuba Street - building”, 27 April 1908, 00053:145:8060, Wellington City Archives.
      • “45-47 Cuba Street, erect sign”, 10 Oct 1933, 00056:140:B12650, Wellington City Archives.
      • “45-47 Cuba Street - alterations & renovations to building”, April 5, 1954, 0056:477:B35964, Wellington City Archives.
      • “45-47 Cuba Street, proposed opening - 1st floor between Arco House and James Smith”, 30 Aug 1978, 00058:1164:C50142, Wellington City Archives.
      • “45-47 Cuba Street, alterations to tearoom - 2nd floor”, 23 Mar 1979, 00058:1196:C51361, Wellington City Archives.
      • 45 Cuba Street, business additions and alterations – shop”, 1989, 00059:315:E18109, Wellington City Archives.
      • “45-47 Cuba Street, strengthening”, 21 Jul 1994, 00060:161:5888, Wellington City Archives. “45-47 Cuba Street, strengthening”, 21 Jul 1994, 00060:161:5888, Wellington City Archives.
      • “45-47 Cuba Street, verandah”, 21 Jul 1994, 00060:161:5889, Wellington City Archives.
      • 45-47 Cuba Street, Sign”, 1 Nov 1995, 00061:154:14958, Wellington City Archives
      • 45-47 Cuba Street, additions and alterations”, 2001, 00078:1451:77346, Wellington City Archives.
    • Technical Documentation close
    • Footnotes close

      Not available

Last updated: 10/10/2017 4:06:26 a.m.