James Bennie

1873 - 1945

James Bennie was a prolific Wellington architect who designed over 200 Wellington buildings in the early 20th century. He was born in Ayrshire, Scotland as the son of a mining engineer. The family moved to New Zealand in 1879 and settled in Brunnertown near Greymouth. In the early 1890’s Bennie attended the Working Men’s College in Melbourne, Australia, where he studied under artist and architect Thomas Searell. On completion of his studies he returned to Greymouth and set up in practice as an architect. In 1903 Bennie moved to Wellington and went into practice with E.C. Farr before establishing his own practice in 1905.

Some of Bennie’s designs include the Albermarle Hotel, Wellington (1905), the Carnegie Library at Levin (1910), the Karori Methodist Church (1912), and the Oriental Bay Tea Kiosk (1912, demolished 1978). He designed a number of theatres including Kings (1910), Queens (1916), the Crown (1916) and Paramount (1917), all in Wellington. He was responsible for the design of many houses including the Wedge, Glenbervie Terrace (1906) and his own house in Salamanca Road (1907), both in Wellington. He also had an interest in prefabricated house design.

Bennie was an inaugural member of the New Zealand Institute of Architects, founded in 1905, and was later elected a Fellow. He retired in 1935 and his son Malcolm, who had joined his father in 1927, continued to run the practice.

Image: The Cyclopedia of New Zealand [Nelson, Marlborough & Westland Provincial Districts] The Cyclopedia Company, Limited, 1906, Christchurch


Fill, Barbara. “James Bennie, Architect, 1874-1945” , NZHPT, 1984
NZHPT Glossary
WCC Heritage Inventory 2001


Last updated: 11/2/2016 3:53:18 AM