Old buildings record city's commercial past

The Barrington Building was completed in 1905 for German-born Gustav Kronfeld, who arrived in Auckland in 1890. He dealt in "Samoan and Island curios", tinned fish, fruit and vegetables until his retirement in 1915.

Known as the G. Kronfeld and Co building, it demonstrated the strength of commercial growth in Auckland and was unusual for its red and yellow brickwork.

In 1936, the building was bought by John Bates and Co, china and crystal merchants, which operated as a retailer at the site until 1965. In the 1970s the building underwent several ownership changes. Its ground floor became a shopping arcade.

The Barrington Gallery opened in 1975.

The name Old Sofrana House refers to the shipping company Sofrana Immoblier, which held the lease for the building in the 1980s before moving.

It was built in 1900 for merchants Hayman and Co.

In the 1940s, after the building was acquired by the Farmers Co-operative Auctioneering Company, it was occupied by the Port Line shipping company, the Cambridge clothing company and the Producers and Citizens Co-operative Assurance Co.

In the late 1960s, the ground floor and basement were altered for John Cordy, fine art dealers. In 1970, the building was re-opened as Columbus House. Along with the Barrington Building, it is earmarked as a boutique hotel.

The Levy Building - the former Gilmore Warehouse - was built in 1897 by Auckland businessmen Stephen Cochrane (one of the founders of the Diocesan School for Girls High School) and James Dacre.

Shortly after construction the building was taken over by George Gilmore of Gilmore, Younghusband and Co, tea merchants, before it was bought by Burns Philp and Co in 1918.

It was sold again to Johnston Ltd, tea merchants, in 1920 before undergoing significant alterations transforming it with an art deco design in 1934. It was bought by Quigley's Ltd, house furnishers, in 1935.

In 1942, during World War II, amid fears that servicewomen with nowhere to entertain men friends would end up in hotel bars, the YWCA Downtown Club was established in the building.

When Quigley's sold the building in 1983 it had been occupied by many businesses, including the Seven Seas Coffee Lounge, Bookings Bookshop and Mr Chips.

There are plans to transform it into boutique office space with shops on the ground floor.

Plans for the Britomart Precinct also include the possibility of exhibition space and office space being created in the upper floors of the 1912 Central Post Office, now the hub of the Britomart Transport Centre.

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