Built in 1906 for the Bank of New Zealand, this building served as a bank for more than 70 years. A feature of the building was the main banking chamber which now houses Element Café and Restaurant. Described as a “splendid room” by the Wanganui Herald, the banking chamber featured a ceiling with a “lofty dome with a leadlight glazed with cathedral glass”. The Carrara Ceiling Company of Wellington provided the decorated plasterwork on the ceiling which today is a feature of the mezzanine dining area of the restaurant.
The original coved plaster ceiling can be seen above the desks in the 1906 photograph opposite which shoes the newly completed banking chamber. The tellers’ counters were made mobile casino of polished cedar with desks in picked rimu.
The Bank of New Zealand built a extension at the rear in 1962 which now serves as the restaurant kitchen and offices. After the Bank left in 1983 the building was renovated for use as a shopping arcade. At this time, the original front windows were removed and replaced with bay windows.
Restoration work began in 2006 and the banking chamber served as the reception area when the world premiere of the film River Queen was held in Whanganui. The building has just been strengthened against earthquake damage and the internal plasterwork restored to casino to its former glory.