An Interislander ferry enters Wellington Harbor from Picton, 50 miles and 3 hours away on New Zealand's other big island, the South Island. Not an ideal crossing.
Water, water, everywhere.
The sea is never far away.
On the other hand, never underestimate the power of builders to make dramatic locations boring. This is Jervois Quay, with a lineup from the 1970s. Maybe that wasn't such a good decade, after all.
The oldest surviving house in Wellington. It's on Nairn Street and was built in 1858 by William Wallis, a carpenter whose family remained in it until 1977. No wonder it feels homey. Three years later it opened as a museum.
Here it is again, on the far left. Downhill it's boring time again. Up ahead are the Berkeley Dallard apartments, built in 1975 and with 153 apartments the biggest block in the City Council's housing portfolio.
Over on the other side of town, this is the childhood home of Katherine Mansfield who, it will be recalled, at 19 got the hell out of Dodge.
A neighboring house, also on Tinakori Road. Maybe the occupants a century ago were as uptight as their house.
Some people made money in old Wellington. Mansfield's father was a banking executive. (Trivia for the day: the OED reports that the word "executive" in this sense was first used when Mansfield was 14, in 1902. It seems not to have been in common use until the 1930s.)
On the edge of the gridded CBD, this is Toomath's Buildings, from 1901 and on Ghuznee Street between Cuba and Marion. What line of migration is implied? Ghazni, after all, is an Afghan province and city. Toomath is Irish, though a Toomath of the next generation would be New Zealand's first Harvard-trained architect.
Cuba Street has gone and gotten itself pedestrianized.
To think of it! A noble house of money reduced to burgers and fries, with possibly a few apartments.
Empty now, the Albemarle opened as a hotel in 1905, became a boarding house, then a whorehouse and then--if there's a difference--the Mayfair Gentleman's Club. After a failed attempt to renovate it, a second investor paid almost NZ$800,000 in 2012 for a building needing earthquake strengthening before he could proceed with a restaurant down and apartments above.
It's colloquially the State Opera because the State Insurance Company restored it in 1977.
The Town Hall, completed in 1904, when town halls really had halls: this one sat 3,000. The facade was clipped back in 1934, when Napier had a bad earthquake and people began worrying about one here.
The addition in 1989 of a City Council Building didn't do much to help.
Now this is more interesting: it's the Victoria University Law School, built in 1876 to house the national government and known even now as the Old Government Building. At first it housed the civil service and cabinet, then just the Education Department. It sat empty from 1990 to 1996, when it took on its present life. Though it affects masonry, it's all wood, which does make you wonder how it escaped fire all these years.
Now here's masonry for you, though this parliament building, from 1922, never got the dome intended for it. The so-called beehive, to the left, houses the prime minister's offices. No jokes about going around in circles.
Today's Parliament Building replaced an earlier building of wood that burned in 1907, but that building's twin did not burn: the General Assembly or Parliamentary Library survives as the state library, from 1899.
More wood, more fires. This is St John's Prebyterian Church, built in 1884 to destroy one than burned. The architect was Thomas Turnbull, who also designed the General Assembly Library. When this church opened in 1885 it was in a residential neighborhood. Problem: now it's on the edge of the CBD.
A super-special, Great Mirror Three Star winner, this is Old St. Paul's, which from 1866 to 1964 was the cathedral of the diocese of Wellington. The architect was none other than the Reverend Frederick Thatcher, who evidently feared fire less than earthquakes. The transepts, visible here on the left, were added later for stability; the slate roof came in 1924 and replaced shingles. The church might have been destroyed when a new and bigger church opened, but somebody in the city had a brain. The government bought the church in 1967 and maintains it. No longer a parish church, it's still consecrated and available for weddings and more.
You're not impressed? That's because you haven't seen the interior: all wood and not a drop of paint.
The atmosphere is terrific, right up there with Norway's stave churches. What's that you say? "Why didn't you use a flash?" Oh, sorry, what's a flash?
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