Topic: Empire/Victoria Building (1925-26)

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King Street, New Plymouth

Empire/Victoria Building

 King Street, New Plymouth

 Originally named the Empire Building and designed by Thomas Bates as his offices, this building was constructed in 1925-26. Bates continued to operate his business from here until the early 1950s.

A permit was granted to Bates by the New Plymouth Borough Council on 11 March 1925 for the construction of a commercial building on part Town Section 643, King Street - the estimated construction cost was £4300, and the contractors were Julian & Son.

It seems likely that Bates was influenced by the strong Modernist movement in Europe at the time, as the building has a noticeably modern appearance. It is very likely New Plymouth's first commercial building constructed in this style, and is a very early example of modern commercial architecture in New Zealand. Few early photographs of the building exist, although those in Fred. B. Butler's album appear show slightly more detailing on the facade - although not nearly as much as would be expected on a New Zealand commercial building of this age. 

It was constructed at a time when many commercial buildings in New Plymouth, and across New Zealand, were still being constructed in the classical or stripped classical styles. The Empire Building is in contrast to the classically styled Hookers Building opposite - also designed by Bates a year later in 1926. There are some similarities between the Empire Building and Colliers Building also designed by Bates in 1926 - although this is closer to the Stripped Classical Style with more facade detailing than the Empire Building. 

Radio 2YB, which began broadcasting from Collier's Building in 1929, moved here in 1932. Renamed 2XP in 1948, the station broadcast  from here until 1952 when it moved to the Bennett & Sutton building on Brougham/Powderham Sts. (see Document below)

The Empire was renamed the Victoria Building when the Victoria Insurance Company occupied it as their New Plymouth offices in the early 1950s.

The 2YB studio in the Empire Building

Puke Ariki Coll. A2a.63

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Empire/Victoria Building (1925-26)

City:New Plymouth
Empire/Victoria Building (1925-26) by Kete Site Admin is Copyright Act 1994