ORIGINALLY NAMED FOR A FAMOUS BRAND OF COFFEE, EXCELSIOR HOUSE HAS BEEN FULLY RESTORED AND, FITTINGLY, IS TODAY HOME TO A VERY FINE COFFEE ESTABLISHMENT.
This five-storey building is one of four original warehouses in the block and was completed in 1897 for Brown, Barrett & Co, tea, coffee and spice merchants. It was designed by architect Edmund Bell and displays Edwardian, Victorian and Italianate influences.
Despite naming it for their then-famous Excelsior coffee brand, Brown, Barrett & Co never occupied the building and instead took up residence in the nearby Masonic Building.
In 1908 J. Wiseman & Sons moved into Excelsior House and established a large saddle and harness factory and warehouse. Printer Arthur Cleave & Co also took up residence and for a time The Great Northern Brewery Ltd had its wine and spirit cellars in the building.
In the 1950s the building became a branch of Bank of New Zealand, who eventually occupied the whole building.
Partial demolition and eventual restoration
Excelsior House as it stands today represents only half of the original structure. In 1933 part of the site was requisitioned by the Auckland City Council under the Public Works Act and the building was partially demolished in 1935. This was to allow the widening of Commerce Street to improve access to the old railway site, about to be developed as a bus terminal.
Today Excelsior House defines one of the prime entrances to the Britomart precinct. Together with its neighbour Stanbeth House, it has been meticulously restored by Cooper and Company in consultation with heritage architects Salmond Reed.
The ground floor is now home to cafe Shaky Isles Coffee Co and Vietnamese restaurant Cafe Hanoi, whose private dining room the Parlour is located in the basement. The upper levels are partially occupied by private members’ club Generator, with the balance let as boutique office space.
IN THIS BUILDING
Cafe Hanoi Parlour
Find Excelsior House
22-24 Customs Street East