Drews Avenue Precinct

Drews Avenue Precinct

Building Details

Name of Building: Drews Avenue Precinct
Location: 29 Ridgway Street - 30 Drews Avenue
Date Plaque Unveiled: 17 October 2022
Current Owners: Hadleigh Reid
Contact Details:  
Plaque Sponsor: Hadleigh Reid

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Brief Historical Information:

James Lockhart Stevenson, a prominent grocer and community leader, built a new grocery store in
1877, on the corner of Ridgeway St and Drews Avenue. It is the oldest commercial building in the
centre of Whanganui. From 1912, a range of business tenants occupied the building. Architect,
Clifford Newton Hood, and H.R. Beauchamp a shipping, insurance and farm agent had offices here.
From 1919 – 1929 Russel Stevenson, a nephew of James, had his solicitor’s office in the building now
known as Ridgeway Chambers (29 Ridgeway St)

By 1903 James was a shipping agent working out of the old family home next door to Ridgeway
Chambers. After his death in 1919, the estate built a new two storeyed masonry office block
designed by C. Newton Hood. It was completed in 1921 and named Stevenson’s Building. The first
occupants were Currie & Jack, barristers and solicitors; stock agents Murray, Roberts & Co Ltd and
Kempthorne, Prosser and Co.’s New Zealand Drug Company Ltd. (42-44 Drews Ave)

The adjacent property was designed by architect, T. H. James and built in 1900 for solicitors, W.
Treadwell and J. McBeth. In later years, offices in the building were occupied by Armstrong and Craig
and W. Donald (solicitors) and architect Clifford Hood. In the 1950’s a timber extension was added by
Armstrong, Barton and Armstrong and in 1972 further alterations were completed by Jack Riddet
Young & partners, all solicitors. (38 – 40 Drews Avenue)

The former Cosmopolitan Club was built in 1900, in the Italianate Palazzo style created by Sir Charles
Barry in London, for Gentlemen’s Club buildings. It was designed by local architect, William Pinches.

In 1910 the building was extended, doubling its size, and adding a large top lit space to be used as a
billiard room. It served as the headquarters of the Cosmopolitan Club until 1979. (30 Drews Avenue)

Restoration and Current Owner Story

Hadleigh Reid purchased the old Cosmopolitan building in 2010, just before the first Christchurch
earthquake, to move his dental practice into as his business expanded. When 38, 40, 42-44 Drews
Ave and 29 Ridgway St came on the market as a package in 2018, Hadleigh was looking forward to
someone purchasing these and restoring them. Closer to the time of the auction, he was thinking of
different uses for the buildings and got quite enthusiastic, so he decided to attend and was the only
Restoring these buildings has been fun and very challenging but as they have slowly progressed, he
has been amazed at the transformation and overwhelmed by the public’s appreciation of them.

The restoration architect has been Elinor McDouall of Drawroom Architects and builders Shane Stone

Photo Gallery

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