One of four large former warehouses between Commerce and Gore streets, Stanbeth House sits on the southern side of Britomart.
The front half of this four-storey building, fronting Customs Street East, was built in 1885 as a warehouse for Coupland & Company. The rear half, facing Galway Street, was added by John McKail Geddes of Brown, Barrett & Co in 1908.
James Coupland arrived from England in 1862 and his grain, seed and produce business supplied farmers on the outskirts of the city for many years. After Coupland retired to Ponsonby, Herman Brown and John McKail Geddes took up the lease.
Early occupants included the Auckland Wool Stores of the NZ Mercantile & Loan Co, produce merchants Sharp & Co and kauri gum merchant Edward Morton.
A Mr Kyte tested his patented automatic fire escape and lowering machine from the top storey in 1902. The machine consisted of a cage and pulley system attached to the outside of the building; while the demonstration was a success, it appears the invention failed to catch on.
The origin of a name
Subsequent occupants included the Old Age Pension Office, the first of its kind in the world, and the British General Electric Company showroom. Later there were a succession of restaurants on the ground floor, including the Silver Grill Dining Room and the Dynasty Chinese Restaurant.
Merchant C. H. Furness & Company was the major leaseholder from the 1920s to the 1970s. The name Stanbeth House was probably derived from the middle names of the subsequent leaseholders, William Stanley McConnell and Nancy Elizabeth McConnell.
Together with its neighbour Excelsior House, Stanbeth House has now been fully refurbished by Cooper and Company, in consultation with heritage architects Salmond Reed.
Read more about the refurbishment of Stanbeth House
Find Stanbeth House
26-28 Customs Street East