Our NZ post offices were, even then, multi-functional and used, not only for postal services, but for banking and registry weddings as well. The prosperous and busy Temuka district eventually outgrew the original Post Office which had operated on the prominent corner site at King Street and Domain Avenue since 1869. By the end of the 19thcentury the decision was made that a replacement office was required.
Other sites were investigated but it was decided to rebuild on the same corner and Tenders were called by the Public Works engineer, E R Ussher, in June 1901. Mr J L Potter supervised the erection of the new PO with Messrs Petrie and Son as the carpenters and Messrs Palliser as contractors and plasterers. The resulting rather grand and solid two storeyed building was opened by the acting premier, Sir Joseph Ward, in front of a large crowd in June 1902.
The brick and plaster building has an asymmetrical plan. The main part of the building is two storeys in height and has a pavilion roof with the upper storey being used to house the Post Master while the ground floor was used for public offices.
The street facing facades are heavily detailed with classical features such as rusticated quoins and sash windows with pilasters, pediments, aprons (a raised section of ornamental stonework below a window ledge) as well as decorative swags.
It came to the end of its use as a Post Office in the 1989 and is now in private ownership. It enjoys a Historic Place Category 2 listing; several of the original architectural details at roof level were removed from the building some time prior to the mid 1980’s including the tall chimneys, pediments and ironwork.
When the foundation stones were laid a bottle with coins, stamps, telegraph form and a copy of the Temuka Leader were encased inside. That will be an interesting discovery one day but hopefully not for many years to come.
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