The Orange Hall in Newton Rd, which was the hub of the Auckland dance scene for decades, is up for sale for the first time since it was built in the early 1920s.

Representing a big chunk of the city's social history, the Orange Hall is located on a 1726sq m site at 143-149 Newton Rd. It is for sale by private treaty closing on February 24, through Bill Fenton and Harold McCracken of Bayleys Auckland.

Simply known to its many patrons as "The Orange" it was immortalised in the 1958 Peter Cape song Down the Hall on Saturday Night with the line, "We're as slick as the Orange in Auckland". Before the advent of television and other forms of entertainment in the latter half of last century, ballroom dancing was a popular and regular social event and the Orange's dance floor, thought to be sprung and made of tawa wood, was regarded as the best in Auckland.

The Orange's heyday was in the 1940s, and especially during World War II, with the dance hall packed and queues stretching down Newton Rd. In an article in the New Zealand Herald in 1987, Brian Kearney wrote that, "the Orange opened its doors six nights a week to the crowds queuing four deep down its steep steps and along Newton Road".

The supper room below the dance hall area catered for the crowds and even up to the late 1980s still served sandwiches, cakes, tea and coffee. No alcohol was allowed on the premises by the owners, the Auckland Orange Hall Society.

Long-running tenants and users of the dance hall included Arthur Skelton and his Dance Band and the Beau Regarde Dance Club. Arthur Wheelhouse, Skelton's partner, recalled in Kearney's article how dance halls, such as the Orange Ballroom, helped to start the careers of New Zealand musicians and entertainers, such as Mavis Rivers, Bill and Boyd, Howard Morrison and Kiri Te Kanawa.

Tom Sharplin is said to have developed his distinctive one-legged rock and roll style at the Orange. The band of Auckland musician Bill Sevesi, who received the Pacific Islands Artist Award in 1997 for his contribution to the development of the Pacific Islands arts in New Zealand, played at the Orange for 23 years from 1958 to 1981.

The advent of late night closing and bands in pubs signalled the beginning of the end of an era for dance halls and 1987 saw the "last waltz" in the Orange Ballroom. In subsequent years it was occupied by the Performing Arts School - who repainted its trademark interior orange colour cream - and in more recent years, by the City Christian Church.

The church relocated to another building last year, prompting the decision by the Auckland Orange Hall Society to put the property up for sale.

Fenton says the society now uses other premises for its meetings and the property is surplus to its requirements.

He says the interior of the building has been maintained in very good order, with many of its features still intact including the dance floor which was replaced in 1954.

Fenton says the property will appeal to investors with an interest in character buildings and owner-occupiers. "We've already had a lot of interest from owner-occupiers, particularly from people within the entertainment industry some of whom have fond memories of the Orange.

"The hall's corner site and position on the Newton Rd slope means it has excellent exposure to a very busy road. It's only a short drive from the CBD and is close to popular city fringe locations such as Ponsonby, Grafton and Newmarket."

The property has a rateable value of $2.45 million, with all but $130,000 of that being classified as land value. The land is in three titles with the hall sitting on the largest lot of 743sq m. There are two surrounding carpark lots of 612sq m and 371sq m to the rear and side of the building, which are accessed from Dundonald St and have space for around 43 vehicles.

McCracken says it may be possible to further develop the 612sq m site at 143 Newton St to the side of the hall, which was purchased in 1983, or onsell this land at some stage. He says the property is close to Symonds St in an area that has been undergoing a significant revitalisation in recent years.

"The upper Symonds St area has undergone a substantial redevelopment into a more intensive mixed-use residential and commercial precinct with a mix of older Victorian and Edwardian character buildings, developed from the 1880s to the 1930s, and newer complexes."

The rejuventation of the area has extended into Newton Rd with the old Masonic Hall adjacent to Orange Hall having been refurbished and transformed into the Roundhouse recording studios by Neil Finn.

The Orange Hall itself was built in a number of stages. The original hall was designed in 1922 by A. Sinclair O'Connor and completed the following year for the Orange Lodge which was established in Auckland in 1840. Among the duties of the lodge's trustees were "to promulgate the principles and further the practice of the Protestant Religion and to afford its members the means of social intercourse, spiritual improvement and rational recreation".

It appears the lodge met in the Protestant Hall in K Rd before this, but sold that hall to construct the Newton Rd one. The hall was altered in 1937, again to O'Connor's design, with the addition of a parapet roof and redesigned top storey.

A further extension was added in 1957, to the design of another noted Auckland architect, Clinton Savage. An Auckland City Council heritage overview of the property says most of the combined 1922-1937 exterior design features appear to still be present.