Street history: The Terrace

Last updated 09:31 05/07/2012

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The Wellingtonian

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The Terrace is an eclectic mix of the commercial and the residential.

Its long and colourful history dates back to the 1800s.

Over the years, the street has been home to a variety of residents, from wealthy settlers and prisoners to priests, rabbis, 1980s post-punk bands and primary school children.

The street, which extends the 1.8 kilometres from the corner of Abel Smith St to Bowen St, was once divided in two.

The Terrace's southern end, which was formerly known as Woolcombe St, contained two of the richest and most historic houses in the region.

Dalmuir and St Ruadhan were owned by wealthy industrialist and farmer Sir Douglas McLean and were known for their large gardens.

Further south, where Te Aro School now stands, was a prison.

The Terrace Gaol, built in 1854, held some of the region's most notorious criminals until it was demolished in 1925. It was one of Wellington's first prisons.

The Terrace also housed Wellington's first Jewish synagogue, built in 1870.

The Beth El Synagogue was situated at 222 the Terrace.

It was rebuilt in the 1920s and relocated.

At the other end of the street, heading towards Parliament, No 1 and No 2 The Terrace are now the site of The Treasury and the Reserve Bank.

This end of the street was once known as Wellington Terrace, and so named because it was on a terrace along the ridge of hills at the back of Lambton Quay.

The street was a popular residential area during the late 1800s and early 1990s and was described as "the fashionable street" in contemporary newspaper reports.

Several early churches were built on The Terrace, including the congregational church (built in 1888) and St Andrew's Church (1879).

The St Andrew's Church on The Terrace today was built in 1923 after the earlier building was destroyed in a fire.

In the early 1980s, 212 and 246 The Terrace became the home of post-punk band Beat Rhythm Fashion.

They regularly hosted house parties and created the notion of "The Terrace scene", a popular party post-punk scene in Wellington.

These days The Terrace has become a popular area for Victoria University student accommodation.

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- The Wellingtonian


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