Hotel St George, 124 Willis Street (1930)

Hotel St George.
A still gleaming Hotel St George soon after its construction

The Hotel St George is an outstanding Art Deco building occupying an historic corner site.

In the 1850s the Union Bank of Australia built a branch here. In 1877 the bank building was bought by the famous early settler and businessman John Plimmer who converted it into one of Wellington’s most celebrated hotels. On the facade were the carved impressions, in timber, of the faces of prominent Wellingtonians of the time, including Plimmer himself.

In 1929 the property was bought by the Grand Central Buildings Ltd., which demolished the hotel. The new hotel was designed by William Prouse and opened to considerable fanfare. Probably its most famous guests were the Beatles in 1964.

In 1994 the building was converted into a student hostel. The building’s main facades are full of visual interest, particularly in the skilful integration of its various facets — podium, bays and recessed balcony — and the clever use of decorative mouldings that enliven the main elevations and give the building its pronounced verticality.

Image reference: Hotel St George corner, intersection of Willis, Manners and Boulcott streets, Wellington. Crown Studios Ltd :Negatives and prints. Ref: 1/1-033359-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand.