Government Life building in Cathedral Square – opened 50 years ago today

On 17 July 1964 the Government Life Building opened in Cathedral Square. One of my favourite photos in our entire collection is this one of its construction. workers on top of Government Life. It is the Ōtautahi version of the famous Lunch atop a Skyscraper (New York Construction Workers Lunching on a Crossbeam).

The Post Office tower is dwarfed in this view, taken from the top of the Government Life Insurance building in the Square.  [Mar. 1963] CCL PhotoCD 11, IMG0059
The Post Office tower is dwarfed in this view, taken from the top of the Government Life Insurance building in the Square. [Mar. 1963] CCL PhotoCD 11, IMG0059
That iconic clock has been a landmark of the central city – when it was turned off lots of us missed looking up to see the time (and the temperature).

Government Life Building showing clock 12:45 4 July 1963 CCCPlans Government-Life-11-2
Government Life Building showing clock 12:45 4 July 1963 CCCPlans Government-Life-11-2

In the 1965 photo above, you can see it is 1:52pm.

Christchurch Cathedral Junction and Woodwards Corner, Kete Christchurch
Christchurch Cathedral Junction and Woodwards Corner, 1965. Kete Christchurch

Post earthquakes, Mike Hewson’s artwork Government Life Suspension reflected the building back for us.

Government life art by Mike Hewson. Tuesday 22 January 2013. Flickr: CCL-2013-01-22-IMG_2308
Government life art by Mike Hewson. Tuesday 22 January 2013. Flickr: CCL-2013-01-22-IMG_2308
Government Life building. Wednesday 18 June 2014. Flickr: 2014-06-17-IMG_0287
Government Life building. Wednesday 18 June 2014. Flickr: 2014-06-17-IMG_0287

The Government Life building is currently being demolished.
See more:

Haere ra Central Library on Gloucester Street

The future plans for the central city mean the Central Library is going to be demolished; we are saying goodbye.

Christchurch City Libraries began in 1859 as a Mechanics Institute collection in temporary premises in the then Town Hall in High Street. In 1863 the library moved to a wooden building on the corner of Hereford Street and Cambridge Terrace. The wooden building was replaced with a handsome brick building in 1901 and this was the Central Library until 1982.

The 4th incarnation of the Central Library – located on the corner of Gloucester Street and Oxford Terrace – opened on 11 January 1982. Warren and Mahoney were the architects and C. S. Luney the principal contractor. Governor-General the Hon. Sir David Beattie officially opened the building on 2 February 1982.

Here are some of the keen first people to arrive.
Customers entering library

I started going to the Central Library in Gloucester Street when I moved to Christchurch in the 1990s. I would toddle in once a week for my supply of CDs and books. Later on I was stoked to get a job at Central. I’ve got many good memories of all sorts of things:  talking with customers on the Popular desk on the ground floor, the neat views over Gloucester Street to Cathedral Square, great friends, staffroom chats, oohing and ahhing over new books and CDs and DVDS, breastfeeding my daughter in the sick room, listening to NZ Music Month concerts and author talks. In Central you really did feel part of town’s action and bustle. Central Library staff and customers were (and are) an awesome bunch.

Cover of Canterbury Public LibraryThe riverside land the library stands on is required for the planned Convention Centre. A new Central Library is to be built on a site bordered by Gloucester Street, Colombo Street and Cathedral Square.

We’d love you to share your memories and comments at the bottom of this post

Until we are back again in a new Central Library, enjoy our temporary Centrals – Central Library Peterborough, Central Library Tuam (until it closes on 1 November) and the upcoming Central Library Manchester.

More about the Central Library

Photos

There are lots more photos of the Central Library on Flickr.
Demolition in progress on the site for the new Central LibraryThe new Central Library nearing completionCentral Library
Literature Arts and Music DepartmentBody Festival 2008.Zinefest 09
Gay Maher and Mary Flatman cut the cakeCentral LibraryCraig Smith at the Central LibraryCentral Library

Diggers and demolitions

Because kids are so exposed to this …
Digger Rebuilding Christchurch?
It’s neat to be able to read picture books like these:

CoverCover

Bruiser by local author Gavin Bishop is a lovely environmental story – the digger learns something about caring for the world. Try also Sally Sutton’s poignant Demolition and Roadworks, and search for more machinery related stories.

True love at the Carlton Hotel, circa 1982

PhotoIn an article in The Press  on Tuesday 10 May, a woman reminisces about meeting her husband to be at Lyttelton’s  Harbourlight Theatre.

There is nothing quite like a demolition to get the memories of first love flooding back, and mine are located at the Carlton Hotel on the corner of Papanui Road and Bealey Avenue.  It was a rather large ugly barn like place inside, but it was here that I met my true love, and decided that he was a bit of all right as he danced frenetically to ‘The Cowboys’.

I don’t imagine that I am the only one who has thoughts of the past connected to buildings that we are losing, or are badly damaged.

Our library web pages have a number of links to well-known Christchurch landmarks.

Perhaps you frequented the Gladstone Hotel and fell for that brooding poetic looking character in the corner, or were married at the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament, shopped for that special something for the School Ball at Shands Emporium, or developed your first crush at the Normal School? Which no longer around Christchurch building holds special memories for you?

At the end of The Empire

Lyttelton demolitions: The end of The Empire
The Empire Hotel in Lyttelton was demolished yesterday. It was one of several recent building take-downs on London Street. View more of this set of photos on flickr.

Manchester Courts – a brief history

PhotoThe Manchester Courts building on the corner of Manchester and Hereford Streets is to be demolished following damage sustained in the 4 September earthquake and subsequent aftershocks.

When this seven-storey building was erected,  it symbolised prosperity and growth amongst the business community in Christchurch. Designed by the Luttrell Brothers, the building was the tallest in New Zealand at the time at about 112 feet (34.13 metres) high. The building, originally the New Zealand Express Company, is registered with New Zealand Historic Places Trust who describe the building on their website:

The New Zealand Express Company building, now known as Manchester Courts, is significant as one of the earliest attempts at the Chicago skyscraper style in New Zealand. The building’s combination of contemporary American styles with the existing tradition of British architecture means this building occupies a unique place within the history of New Zealand commercial architecture

PhotoFind out more at Christchurch City Libraries:

More information on the demolition: