The all-star line-up of architects in the foundation years of Timaru contains some great talents. Herbert Hall was one of several to build a strong practice.
Using simple materials of local brick, timber and plaster, with roofs of clay tiles or corrugated steel, Hall developed a unique and picturesque vision for a city by the sea.
In recent times Bayview Properties from Singapore purchased not only the Wairakei Resort at Taupo with its splendid golf course but also the Chateau Tongariro designed by Hall in 1928. In adding on a complete new wing at the Chateau – shown below in this photo – every detail of Hall's original building was followed. This is a clever enhancement of a national treasure. The owners enquired as to what measures are in place in Timaru to preserve the work of Herbert Hall? Sadly very few. In recent times two magnificent houses in Sealy St have been lost – one to a suspected arson attack; the other to allow the expansion of the supermarket adjacent.
Both the Caroline Bay Hall and the Hydro Grand hotel have suffered from crude renovations and neglect, although their essential character survives.
Hall & Marchant designed the original core building at Timaru Boys' High School surely the most complete education building that one could ever imagine, brilliantly planned. Shortly after its demolition forty years ago, the Ministry changed tack and chose to strengthen anchor buildings at Southland Boys' High School and Waitaki Boys'. Timaru's loss was the turning point.
In the porch of St David's, the little stone church near Cave, one will find the gold medal of the New Zealand Institute of Architects awarded to Herbert Hall in 1935 for his outstanding contribution to New Zealand architecture.
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