The building sits in a distinctive ‘lozenge’ shape on the Cuba Street Extension. This extension was created by Wellington City Council in 1882, who reclaimed the land and sold it to private business owners. This small part of Cuba Street became a booming construction site and several buildings went up in the same year. To this day, the buildings on lower Cuba Street all mirror each other in a distinct Victorian design and style.
The building is named after its original owner, TG Macarthy, who was a well-known businessman and benefactor. Originally from London, he moved to New Zealand and quickly gained respect in the business community. He owned this building along with multiple breweries, hotels and other urban property in the area, as well as directing two mining companies.
It was originally designed as a shop premises – with an office, kitchen, dining room and amenities behind. In its early years it was solely occupied by restaurateurs, but after its modifications in 1904 the building was used for a diverse range of purposes and changed with the capital’s demands.
These modifications consisted of a third story and 25 extra rooms, aiding itself to be used as a boarding house. The building has a rich history, also serving as a grocer, teahouse and the “Central Coffee Palace” in the past century.
The building is now home to popular bar/restaurant Highwater, with room for retail in the other ground floor space. Office spaces above include tenants Story Box and Digital Nomads.