High Street Post Office - C1 Espresso - Alice in Videoland -
This special place is brimming with contributions to the New Zealand cultural landscape.
Rather than count the assets associated with the corner of Tuam and High, let's start at the beginning, which is a blessing in itself.
That the High Street Post and Telegraph Office was designed directly following the Napier earthquakes, has ensured it's survival. Integral to the handsome Stripped Classical 1932 construct, is tonnes of reinforcing steel, which had been thought of, but not widely used, before the lessons from the Hawkes Bay. The Architect was J T Mair. Applying the style in his own way, the Post Office is not entirely starved of decoration, it features granite facings, fluted pilasters and a balustraded parapet.
Consensus is though, that the best feature of this building is a relic of ancient office technology, pneumatic delivery tubes. These used to move mail around office buildings and were installed in several Christchurch buildings. Here, the zoom tubes have survived and have become another asset to the occupying cafe, C1 espresso. The cafe is no newcomer, it has been a stalwart of Christchurch hospitality since 1996 in another premises. Post-quake, they moved in here and their famous curly fries hit the zoom tubes, delighting the customers.
Also anchoring this handsome building on the ground floor, since 2012, has been Alice in Videoland. They moved here quick smart when the Hereford St premises that they had occupied since 1985, was damaged. A collection of films beyond compare, and now, probably, one of New Zealand's last video stores. The company has moved with the times into online rentals, supported by their detailed cataloguing system, and also branched out to Arthouse Cinema. Two of the movie theatres are here, they are named The Egyptian, and Wonderland. A foyer and a bar keep things humming and the arthouse reels rolling.
The upper floors are still offices, and it is rumoured the top one has a roof terrace.
J T Mair could not have forseen the earthquakes but his preparations preserved one of his best projects for the future, which looks bright, cinematic, and is served with fast moving curly fries.