Saturday, 17 March 2012

Deco Delights

Waking up to the soft sound of a jazz trumpet in the distance, I knew I was still in the 1930s, well at least for the weekend. For the second day of the Art Deco Weekend the plan was to head over to the seaside village of Ahuriri (the original Māori name for what is now Napier), to see what I personally believe is the jewel of Napier - the National Tobacco Company Building (1933). Walking along Breakwater Road, we passed the port area of Napier and into the historic quayside suburb of Ahuriri to see arguably one of New Zealand's most lavish buildings.
Boats sailing along the coast

The harbourside at Ahuriri

View of the Union Hotel looking down of Waghorne St

During the Great Depression the National Tobacco Company produced only pipe and cigarette tobacco, not cigarettes so it was able to sell it's products at affordable prices and this is the reason why Gerhard Husheer, the owner of the company, could afford such an extravagent administration building.

The National Tobacco Company Building is one of Louis Hay's finest and best preserved buildings

The design combines elements of Chicago School, Art Deco and Art Noveau

The exterior of the building is decorated with roses and grapevines and the theme is continued inside the building with stucco roses on the pillars and fruit in the leadlight windows and foyer ceiling dome. The elaborate carved wooden doors are reputed to have cost £600, back in the day when an average working man's annual wage was £100!

Ornate brass lamp at the entrance
Stucco panels featuring roses and raupō

The large leadlight glass dome in the foyer

Roses combined with oranges feature in the leadlight windows

The elegant and luxurious foyer features marble panelling and carved oak

Walking back into town along the foreshore, we saw the RNZAF Red Checkers (the New Zealand equivalent of the Red Arrows) performing more daredevil stunts over the skies of the city.

To get in the mood of the day we changed into our Deco outfits (inspired a little from all the episodes of Boardwalk Empire we've been watching recently!) before catching the Bathing Belles event at the Sound Shell. There was an array of bathing costumes and even a couple of men got in on the act!

The New Napier Arch at the Colonnade

The Bathing Belles (and blokes) event at the Sound Shell

Next on our list of things to do was to play a round on the Par 2 Mini Golf course. All players with Art Deco attire received a discount so it had to be done. It took all my skill but I just managed to beat Lizzie on the Pacific Pro-Am course, obviously I was a gracious winner!

The water hazard at hole 14

Hats off to the winner!

For the evening, we split our time between the Twilight Toe Tap and the Saturday Night at the Shell events. The Twilight Toe Tap was street jazz at it's best on Emerson Street outside the Spanish-style Criterion Hotel (1932). There were all styles of dances from tangos to foxtrots, essentially anything goes and anyone was welcome to join in. I even had a couple of dances with Lizzie, although we were put to shame by everyone else!

The jazz band at Market St

Dancing the night away outside the Criterion Hotel

Over at the Sound Shell, the Royal New Zealand Navy Band were preforming on the stage. It was a good way to relax in the Colonnade with a cup of hot chocolate for the evening...

A crowd walking up Emerson St towards Marine Parade

Vintage Bentley car outside the Masonic Hotel

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for your blog - my great grandfather was Albert Garnet. My daughter is doing a project in Australia on earthquake resistant buildings and I thought I would see what I could find!