The Canterbury Provincial Council Buildings were badly damaged in the earthquakes but newly installed information panels will help people understand their enduring significance.
The Historic Place Category 1 buildings on the corner of Armagh and Durham Sts are the only purpose-built provincial government buildings still in existence in New Zealand. They were designed by Canterbury’s leading Gothic Revival architect Benjamin Mountfort and built between 1858 and 1865.
The Council’s Heritage Team received a grant from the New York-based World Monuments Fund to cover the cost of restoring some key pieces of furniture removed from the rubble of the Stone Chamber – including the Speaker’s Chair, a double-faced clock, and Members’ Benches – now on display at the Quake City exhibition, and installing a series of seven illustrated panels to highlight the Provincial Council Buildings’ importance to the city’s heritage.
The buildings have been carefully stabilised and weatherproofed but remain closed to the public.
“These panels are a great opportunity to talk about the history of the site and what has happened there,” says the Council’s Acting Head of Parks Brent Smith.
“These buildings are the most outstanding example of Gothic Revival architecture in New Zealand and it’s important that people walking past are given more information about them.”
The Canterbury Provincial Council Buildings were placed on the World Monuments Watch in 2012 to draw attention to the destruction caused by the earthquake and the complex issues surrounding rebuilding efforts.