James Meehan and his brother ran a successful grain & seed business in Timaru, and in 1910 purchased a site in lower George St in order to establish new premises. The date 1913 is proudly displayed on the cartouche near the top of the façade. The building is the work of architect Thomas Lusk who was also involved in the remodelling of the Dominion Hotel in Timaru as we know it today. It would seem that Lusk was living in Dunedin at that time, since that is where his daughter Doris Lusk, the well known New Zealand painter was born in 1916. Subsequently the family moved on to Hamilton.
Lusk's building follows a building form seen in London in the late 18th century – in particular the buildings of St James' Square and Bedford Square – as illustrated here.
The premises would have struck a bold statement of stability and success for the Meehans' clientele, not just from the elaborate façade but also upon entering the foyer. Raised slightly above the pavement, in the London manner, the entry is quite grand with its marble floor and elevator. Surely this is proof of the fact that the function of a building is not just to provide a weatherproof working environment but to convey subtle messages in a competitive world. How could another merchant working from a humble tin shed compete with the proprietors of this establishment?
Built next to Werry's Hotel on the corner (now Morton's building) Meehan's building provides an unbroken link to the quite bulky building on the seaward side, thus creating a special precinct in the CBD.
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