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Joseph Maddison facts for kids

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Joseph Maddison
Joseph Clarkson Maddison, 1905.jpg
Joseph Clarkson Maddison in 1905
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Personal information
Name Joseph Maddison
Nationality English
Birth date (1850-02-26)26 February 1850
Birth place Greenwich, Kent, England
Date of death 11 December 1923(1923-12-11) (aged 73)
Place of death Napier, New Zealand
Buildings Carlton Hotel
Clarendon Hotel
Merchiston Station homestead
Mona Vale homestead
Old Government Building, Christchurch
Warner's Hotel
Projects 1906 International Exhibition

Joseph Clarkson Maddison (26 February 1850 – 11 December 1923) was a New Zealand architect. He trained as an architect in his native London and came to Canterbury at the age of 22. At the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century, he was one of the most prominent architects in Christchurch, receiving commissions from all over the country. Until the February 2011 Christchurch earthquake, 13 of his buildings were listed by Heritage New Zealand on their register, with three of those Category I listings, but many of the Christchurch buildings have been demolished since. His style was plain and utilitarian, and he specialised in the classical Italian mode.

Early life

Maddison was born in Greenwich, Kent, England in 1850. His parents were the beer merchant John Maddison and Matilda Clarkson. He attended private schools.


Old Government Building in Christchurch, New Zealand 2006 01
Old Government Building in Christchurch
International Exhibition in Christchurch, main building
International Exhibition in Christchurch, main building

From age 17, Maddison studied in England under architect George Morris and at the National Art Training School. He apparently emigrated to Christchurch, New Zealand in 1872 on the Charlotte Gladstone (the source calls the ship the Gladstone, but only a Charlotte Gladstone came to Lyttelton) but his name does not appear on the shipping list. He initially had an office in Cashel Street, but from 1878 to 1916 worked from an office in Hereford Street approximately opposite Liverpool Lane.

He won two major competitions with his designs, including taking both first and second place in a competition to design Christchurch Town Hall in 1879. This success led to commissions from a variety of clients throughout the 1880s. During the 1890s, he worked primarily on the design of freezing works and abattoirs. In 1887, he was made a Fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects.

In the early twentieth century, having established a national reputation for his work, Maddison designed the Christchurch Government Building, the Clarendon Hotel and the temporary exhibition buildings for the 1906 International Exhibition. The exhibition building was constructed in Christchurch's Hagley Park and had massive dimensions: the frontage measured 399 m, it was 113 m deep and the two towers were 49 m tall. The building, erected at a cost of £54,000, was removed again after the International Exhibition finished. The Government Building in Cathedral Square, which exemplify Maddison's restrained and pragmatic style, is modelled on Italian palazzo architecture.

Parliament Buildings competition entry
Maddison's unsuccessful competition entry for the New Zealand Parliament Buildings

Maddison entered the competition for the new Parliament Buildings in Wellington, after the original building burned down in 1907. The competition received 33 entries, and Maddison's entry did not get amongst the first nine. Government architect John Campbell's entries won first and fourth prize, and the building that was constructed combines elements of those two designs.

Due to his preference for functionality over ornament, Maddison designed only two churches in his career, St Paul's Church at Port Levy and Holy Innocents' Church at Amberley, in 1888 and 1890 respectively.

NZHPT and Christchurch earthquake

A remarkable number of Maddison's designs are (or were) recognised by Heritage New Zealand (NZHPT) as notable heritage buildings. Many of the Christchurch buildings were damaged in the 2010 Canterbury earthquake and after further deterioration in the 2011 Christchurch earthquake, at least half of them were demolished.

The following buildings in the Christchurch area are or were listed by the NZHPT:

Photo Category Name Status Address Description
Carlton Hotel is open.JPG II Carlton Hotel demolished in 2011 1 Papanui Road, Merivale Hotel built for the 1906 International Exhibition
New Building, Old Facade.jpg II Clarendon Hotel demolition is under-way 78 Worcester Street, Christchurch Central City Hotel façade retained for 1987 office high rise
Mona Vale homestead, 2009.jpg I Mona Vale damaged by earthquake; future unknown 63 Fendalton Road, Riccarton Restaurant, café and function centre in the centre of a public park
Linwood Community Centre and Art Gallery.jpg II Linwood Public Library (former) mostly collapsed in the February 2011 earthquake 388 Worcester Street, Linwood Former public library used as a community centre
Flickr - jabbapablo - Government Departmental Buildings.jpg I Old Government Building apparently ok, but located within the red zone 28 Cathedral Square, Christchurch Central City These days a luxury hotel and apartments
II St Luke's Chapel (Christchurch City Mission)  ? 275 Hereford Street, Christchurch Central City Chapel relocated to the grounds of the Christchurch City Mission
Historic Area St Mary the Virgin vicarage  ? Church Square, Addington 1877 vicarage
Warner's Hotel, 2007.jpg II Warner's Hotel demolished in 2011 50 Cathedral Square, Christchurch Central City Hotel built in 1901
Wood Bros Flour and Grain Mill.jpg II Wood Bros Flour Mill most buildings demolished in 2011 14-24 Wise Street, Addington Former flower and grain mill, with the main building designed successively by Maddison in the 1890s
Zetland Hotel, 88-92 Cashel Street, CHRISTCHURCH NZHPT Reg 1952.jpg II Zetland Hotel demolished in 2011 88-92 Cashel Street, Christchurch Central City Hotel built in 1903

The following buildings outside of Christchurch are listed by the NZHPT:

Photo Category Name Address Description
II Presbytery 58 Sealy Street, Allenton, Ashburton Presbytery of the Holy Name Parish, built in 1907
I Merchiston Station homestead Putorino Road, Rata (near Hunterville) Homestead built in 1908
St Paul's, Port Levy.jpg II St Paul's Church Port Levy Church built in 1887/88


Maddison was known for his plain and utilitarian style, which suited the industrial design field in which he preferred to work. He tended to specialise in the classical Italian mode, rarely expanding into other, more baroque areas of architecture. He made forays into domestic gothic architecture with the Nurses' Home at Christchurch Hospital and the Zetland Arms Hotel, but these buildings were not as well-received as his usual work.

Personal life

Maddison married Jane Midmore, the daughter of a surveyor, in 1873. They had three daughters together. For the last few years of his life, Maddison lived with one of his daughters in Napier. His wife Jane died in 1920. He died on 11 December 1923 at Napier at age 73.

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