The date 1875 on the parapet of Collier’s building is the year Miss White set up as a music teacher in Whanganui. Her business was purchased by Henry Collier, an accomplished organist from Manchester, who started advertising his services as a piano and organ teacher in April 1878. Two years later Henry and his brother Herbert Collier bought the music importing business started by Edwin King. Their firm H Collier & Co supplied sheet music, pianos and organs to households and churches throughout the lower North Island. Henry Collier was also a sheepfarmer in the region and his daughter, Edith, became an artist of national repute whose paintings are displayed at the Sarjeant Gallery.
Colliers’ first occupied premises on this Victoria Avenue site in the late 1890s. In August 1901 construction began on the new building which was estimated to cost £5,000. The architect was Thomas Harvey James and the builder John Randal, both of them well-known in Whanganui at the time. The “fine appearance of a building towering three storeys high situated just s above the new Post Office” was reported in the Whanganui Chronicle in 24 March 1902. The new premises To com- plicate matters, warehouses had a dining hall used by Dustin’s on the first floor with a piano storeroom on the top floor and a sound-proof room for use by local music teachers.
By the late 1920s Collier & Co had ceased trading and for the next 50 years the building housed some of Whanganui’s best known booksellers. First AD Willis, then Harry Rowell followed by HI Jones who moved here after WWII and remained at the premises until the 1980s. Since then the shops have had a variety of occupiers, including a coffee shop, and now Precioso, the shop for elegant women’s wear.