15 Nov 2020

Canterbury Regional Council plans to breathe new life into heritage-listed buildings

8:21 am on 15 November 2020

The Canterbury Regional Council says it plans to refurbish an earthquake damaged historic building it recently purchased from the Crown, and use it as an office space.

Exterior of Odeon Theatre in Christchurch

Photo: Supplied

In August, the council bought the former Odeon Theatre and the Lawrie and Wilson building, which neighbour the council's central city offices, from the Crown-owned company Ōtākaro.

The Odeon Theatre is the oldest masonry theatre in New Zealand having been built in 1883 and is a Historic Places Category 1 building.

One of the most notable uses was for the public meetings held in 1893 when Kate Sheppard led the campaign for women's suffrage from Christchurch.

The Lawrie & Wilson Auctioneers is a Historic Place Category 2 building which was built in 1910.

Wilson, of Lawrie & Wilson Auctioneers, is said to have carved the building's intricate Oamaru stone facade details.

Lawrie & Wilson Auctioneers building in Christchurch

Lawrie & Wilson Auctioneers building in Christchurch. Photo: Supplied

Council director of finance and corporate services Miles McConway said they had been actively working on the Lawrie and Wilson building since they took possession.

"We have strengthening options and initial pricing, and are putting together specifications for architects. It is intended to be strengthened and refurbished for office use during 2021," McConway said.

The Odeon formed part of the council's longer-term strategy, he said.

Initially, the council was working to do some temporary bracing to allow the containers, which were in front of the Odeon Theatre on Tuam Street, to be removed.

"The facade will then be tied into a longer-term development opportunity."

The category 1 heritage building, the Odeon Theatre, was built in 1883.

The category 1 heritage building, the Odeon Theatre, was built in 1883. Photo: RNZ / Rachel Graham