Quick bites of history
The Albemarle Private Hotel was built as a temperance hotel. Nineteenth century social reformers formed temperance societies in an attempt to reduce the use and abuse of alcohol which was seen as a cause of poverty, ill health and immorality.
The hotel was built in 1906 at the height of the Edwardian building boom in the Cuba Street area, due in part to the electrification of Wellington’s horse-drawn tram system in 1904 and a sharp rise in the city’s population.
The hotel appears to have generally served a working class clientele of tradesmen. During WWI many of the hotel residents were listed in the ballots and called up to serve in the armed forces. The professions of Albemarle Private Hotel residents noted in these ballots include labourers, engine drivers, butchers and tinsmiths. The building was later listed as a boarding house in 1950-1951, and finally as a massage parlour, at a time when the area around Cuba, Vivian and Ghuznee Streets was known as Wellington city’s Red Light District.
The most notable personality associated with the property during these years was Clare Hallam (1885-1976), a property owner and boarding-house keeper who made her name and fortune from her willingness to rent boarding house accommodation to homeless alcoholics and others who struggled to find long-term housing.
The building has remained relatively unchanged for over 100 years and contributes to the sense of place and continuity of the Cuba Street Heritage Area.
By working closely with the applicant, the Council has ensured a viable long-term future for the building without compromising its important heritage qualities.