Down two side streets, Quinn's Arcade. It can be missed by
those passing along the town's main street, but that is about
to change, David Bruce reports.
What was believed to be New Zealand's first indoor shopping
mall is now entering another stage in a plan by a Waimate
group to return it to its former glory.
Pro-Ject Waimate has already spent about $120,000 buying the
brick building - which stretches between Grigson and High Sts
- and plans to restore and redevelop it.
The concept plan prepared for the Waimate business and
economic development group envisages the arcade being
redeveloped in a way that reflects its history.
The building was first a shopping arcade and then a picture
The group would also be restoring a spectacular building.
New Zealand Historic Places Trust conservation architect Jim
Espie said: "The whole building would not look out of place
in central Auckland and, in fact, nothing compares anywhere
else in the country."
The restoration and redevelopment of Quinn's Arcade will be
to create a multi-use building.
Included in the building will be retail shops. It is hoped to
reflect the building's original office, function and
Built between 1905 and 1907, Quinn's Arcade was originally a
shopping arcade with two-storeyed blocks at each end, ornate
verandas, and half-moon glass windows.
In 1920 it became a picture theatre - the Arcadia - with
billiards rooms, until a fire on June 29, 1955, caused so
much damage movies were never again screened.
Since then it has been used for storage, and for two flats,
which were created in its southern upstairs wing.
After securing ownership of the building last year, Pro-Ject
Waimate commissioned Jackie Gillies and Associates to prepare
a conservation and restoration concept plan for the building.
Pro-Ject Waimate co-ordinator Sheryl Frew said the next step
was to move on to detailed drawings for the restoration and
redevelopment of the building, along with preparing a cost
for the project.
Once that was available, applications could be made to fund
the project, a building fund set up and tenders called.
She hoped that could be completed within the next year. There
had already been two inquiries from outside Waimate for
"One wanted to know how soon they could move in," Miss Frew
There had been offers from service clubs and individuals to
help with the project on a volunteer basis.
Miss Frew acknowledged the project would not be cheap,
particularly for a community the size of Waimate. But the
community was excited about the prospect, and she expected
that excitement to grow now a concept plan had been produced.
"A lot of people will now be able to see what can be done
with the arcade and I expect that enthusiasm to grow," she
Already about $20,000 has been raised by the sale of bricks
in the building, and with almost 300,000 used in its
construction, there is scope for more.
Pro-Ject Waimate is still renting out space in the arcade,
which is providing an income for basic maintenance to ensure
the building does not deteriorate.
The structure of the building is still good because its
original design has an inbuilt strength.
The original design means the building is not likely to
suffer earthquake damage, a structural report said. But it
was thought some improvements would be desirable, to meet
Matching facades at the north and south ends are designed
around a triumphal arch motif, with large central arches.
Each end once had an ornate veranda, with half-moon glass
The southwest, two-storeyed corner of the arcade is in need
of some intensive restoring. Internally, each side originally
had eight shops, with a main concourse linking both streets.
It was modified to create the theatre, which had a mezzanine
dress circle balcony and upper foyer above High St. But many
of the modifications only masked original features of the
building, including the arched entrances into the shops.
What was added was intricate plasterwork on the walls and
plaster to create a ceiling under the curved roof. The
plasterwork is rare and reflects the development of plaster
moulding techniques in the early 20th century.
The overall building has been described in the conservation
plan as "a focus of interaction within the Waimate district
The Arcadia Theatre was also a reminder of the arrival of
cinemas. That heralded a huge social development.
In architectural terms, the arcade was an important part of
Waimate's strikingly intact late-Victorian and Edwardian
"Few towns in New Zealand have the good fortune to retain
such an unmodified historic centre and, as such, all
buildings that contribute . . . are of primary importance,"
the plan said.
The arcade was a significant building in its own right. The
brickwork and decorative ironwork contributed to this. The
detail showed there was careful design in the building's
It was also an important part of Waimate's history,
particularly its connection with William Quinn and his
Makikihi farm and brickworks.
William Quinn was a major employer in Waimate and most of the
bricks in the building came from his brickworks.
The arcade's conversion to an early cinema also contributed
to its significance, the plan said.
• Built between 1905 and 1907.
• Original owner William Quinn, Makikihi landowner and
businessman, born 1828 in Northern Ireland, died July 1,
1914, at Makikihi.
• Building has 296,970 bricks from Quinn's own brickworks.
• Converted to Arcadia Theatre between 1918 to 1920.
• Fire destroyed the theatre on June 29, 1955.
• First floor converted to flats in 1964-65.
• Rest of building used for various purposes, including
• Purchased 2008 by Pro-Ject Waimate.
• October, 2008, conservation and concept plan prepared.