This shop was built in 1899 by Russell & Bignell for the landowner, Mrs Annie Willis of Wellington. It was one of the first buildings in town to have brick side walls to comply with a Borough Council bylaw to restrict the spread of fires. Originally the building had three “handsome and commodious” shops which were occupied by various tenants in the early years. Both HI Jones Bookshop and the Post and Telegraph Office relocated here while their new premises were under construction.
The saddlers and leather merchants, Young & Collins, moved here in 1902 and by 1908 the Adams Star Cycle Co. occupied the left-hand shop. In 1906 Alfred Burnett purchased the property for £9,000. At that time, a rear building known as Willis’s Hall was the scene of many meetings and auctions; it later became the factory for Young & Collins and today forms part of the furniture showroom.
By 1941 the building was occupied by furniture dealers, Cuthbertson & Lee, who created model display rooms on the first floor. In 1959 Wanganui Furniture moved into the building. They later modernized the premises, including the Avenue frontage which was rebuilt in 1993 to reflect the character of the original facade.
Wanganui Furniture began making furniture at their Wanganui East factory in 1916 and was well-known locally as a coffin-maker during the 1918 ‘flu epidemic. Today the company trades as Wanganui Furnishers, selling furniture made elsewhere but still best making soft furnishings in workshops on the premises.