Topic: Davidson's Store, 471 St Aubyn Street (circa 1904)

Topic type:

Taranaki Paint 2018

2018 View: By Hamish Crimp

Although now extensively remodelled, this building was originally constructed for Alexander Davidson as a corner store about 1904.

During the early-1890s Alexander Davidson operated a firewood and coal business in central New Plymouth, before selling it to G. H. Foote in January 1895. Davidson then sold his residential property in Molesworth and Buller Streets, travelled to Europe to purchase drapery stock, before returning and opening a drapery store called 'The Little Wonder' in Devon Street East. Davidson operated the store until late-1901, when it was reported that he had sold his shop, was retiring from business, and the entire of his drapery stock was to be auctioned by Newton King.

It seems Davidson didn't actually retire, and soon shifted to Moturoa where had the present shop and attached living quarters constructed - it seems the 'Little Wonder' name was occassionally used to refer to the Moturoa Store as well. The first definitive evidence of Davidson's shop at Moturoa is in early-March 1904, when it was reported at the monthly Taranaki County Council meeting that "Mr Davidson's application for some work to be done near his store at Moturoa was referred to the Omata foreman".

From March 1907 it was reported that A. Davidson was appointed as the Moturoa agent for the Herald and Budget

The St Aubyn Town District Valuation Roll for 1908-1914 notes that Davidson was the owner of Section 122 Whiteley Township, and that when valued on 31 March 1908, the property had a capital value of £410 and a dwelling (almost certainly the present shop) was present on the site.

Alexander Davidson died on the 2nd of March 1922 aged 81 years, and at the time of his death was noted as a storekeeper at Moturoa; he is buried in Te Henui Cemetery. His funeral departed from the store, which was still being referred to as the 'Little Wonder'. 

The shop was extensively renovated and modernised in the early 2000s, and was the premises of Aurora Paints for a number of years. The building is currently divided into two shops, occupied by Taranaki Paint and Gemstylist hair, beauty and nail salon. 

Inside the Taranaki Paint premises, some of the original doors and interior fittings survive. The rear brick chimney survived until 2018 when it was regrettably demolished.

See: Taranaki Herald, 19 November 1901, page 3; Taranaki Herald, 8 March 1904, page 3; Taranaki Herald, 15 March 1907, page 1; Taranaki Herald, 3 March 1921

Discuss This Topic

There are 0 comments in this discussion.

join this discussion