Saturday, July 2, 2011

As slick as the Orange

We've got the teacher to bash the pianna,
And Joe from the store on the drums.
We're as slick as the Orange in Auckland
For whooping things up and making them hum.

"Down the hall on a Saturday Night" (1958), by Peter Cape



These top two photos are from 2006, when I visited the Orange Coronation Hall in Newton Road, known by all in Auckland simply as the Orange Hall or "the Orange".


I chose a pretty dismal wet and chilly Auckland winter's day last Wednesday to visit the area again. I noticed that the rather out-of-place verandah from 2006 had since been removed. The Orange was back to what it had once been.

The "Orange" in the name comes ultimately from William of Orange, King William III of England in the late 17th century who, as a Protestant king, did much to secure Protestant overlordship over Catholics in Ireland. His name graces or stains Irish history, depending on who you're talking to or to which group you belong. The Loyal Order of Orangemen revere him, and brought that reverence with them when they arrived in Auckland in 1840.

By 1867, they'd set up a Lodge here. The image at left is an Orange Order poster, from Wikipedia. By their 1912 Deed of Trust, the Auckland Lodge trustees listed among their duties “to promulgate the principles and further the practice of the Protestant Religion and to afford its members the means of Social intercourse, spiritual improvement and rational recreation.”(Constitution and Rules of the Auckland Orange Hall Society Incorporated, 27 July 1954, Companies Office records)


They met at the Protestant Hall in Karangahape Road, but sold that site to pay for the Newton Road building. The Orange Hall was designed in 1922 by Arthur Sinclair O'Connor, and built  in 1923 by Fletcher Construction.

A stone was placed in the foundations, honouring David Goldie (1842-1926).

1882-1923
THIS STONE IS PLACED
IN THIS BUILDING
IN HONOUR OF
DAVID GOLDIE ESQ
R. W. P. GRAND MASTER
LOYAL ORANGE INSTITUTION, NZ
FOR FAITHFUL SERVICES RENDERED TO
THE ORANGEMEN OF
THE CITY OF AUCKLAND
DURING MORE THAN 40 YEARS
AS CHAIRMAN AND TREASURER OF
THE ORANGE TRUSTEES

The Auckland Orange Hall Society was formed in 1954 by the Lodge, and remained as owners of the hall down to 2010. As the NZ Herald reported:
A colourful piece of Auckland's social history will soon be privately owned, as the heart of Auckland's early jazz and big-band scene is sold for the first time. The Orange Hall, or the "Orange", on Newton Rd, established itself as a popular dance hall before television and other forms of entertainment captured Aucklanders' attention ...

During World War II, the Orange opened its doors six nights a week to crowds who queued four-deep down its steps and along Newton Rd. It was one of the institutions that helped launch the careers of performers such as Dame Kiri Te Kanawa and the late Sir Howard Morrison. The supper room below the dance hall area served sandwiches, cakes, tea and coffee for the crowds until the 1980s. No alcohol was allowed on the premises by the owners, the Auckland Orange Hall Society.

 NZ Herald 9 February 2010



Long-running tenants and users of the dance hall included Arthur Skelton and his Dance Band and the Beau Regarde Dance Club. Arthur Wheelhouse, Skelton’s partner, recalled in 1987 how dance halls, such as the Orange Ballroom, helped to start the careers of New Zealand musicians and entertainers, such as Mavis Rivers, Bill and Boyd, Howard Morrison and Kiri Te Kanawa. Tom Sharplin is said to have developed his rock and roll style at the Orange. Auckland musician Bill Sevesi, who played at the Orange Ballroom for 23 years, received the Pacific Islands Artist Award in 1997 for his contribution to the development of the Pacific Islands arts in New Zealand. Musician for more than 50 years, composer of nearly 200 songs with 20 LPs to his credit, Sevesi was the first to record the Yandall Sisters and Annie Crummer when she was still an unknown. He started playing at the Orange Ballroom in 1958, his band finally ceasing in 1981.

In 1990 the ballroom underwent a colour change to its interior, repainted a cream colour by the Performing Arts School. The trademark interior orange colour is said to have originated just after World War II.



The Christian City Church have now moved out and gone to Ellerslie, so I see by a notice tacked up by the entrance. Who now uses the old hall, with so many memories for Aucklanders still, I don't know. A private trust purchased it for $1.6 million.

The last waltz was played at The Orange in 1987. It was subsequently used by the Performing Arts School, which repainted the trademark orange interior cream and, more recently, by the City Christian Church. The building has been maintained in very good order, including the sprung dance floor, which was replaced in 1954. We'll be keeping a close eye on the future of the Orange.
NZ Herald 22 July 2010

7 comments:

  1. One of, I guess, many magical dance venues in Auckland. At a building where I lived in 1978, Symondsville in Symonds St, the late owner had run a dance establishment in the hall and supper-room, downstairs from her flat. This place next to St Paul’s Church later had the ignominy of becoming the Cuddle Bubble Tub Inn, then The Penthouse (another massage parlour)... and then there was a big fire.

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  2. Intriguing! Thanks, Claire -- I'll have to look into that at some stage. Cheers!

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  3. What a wonderful post thank you - I've always wondered what "The Orange" was and why .. .. .. I do so hope it opens for public use on day again, it's a beautiful building and a piece of historical Auckland.

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  4. Cheers, Catherine. I agree -- I hope whoever owns it now finds a use befitting all the memories.

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  5. Love the architectural details evident in those close-up pix!
    By the way, Claire at Latitude, do we dare ask how YOU know the names of the massage parlours??!!!

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  6. Very interesting article.

    As slick as the orange ay. When i first saw the title of this post i thought it may be referring to Bobby Leach [1858-1926]...the second man to go over the Niagara falls in a barrel and who died in Auckland from the results of slipping on orange peel LOL rather ironic.

    Here's his Wiki entry http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bobby_Leach

    ...i added the photographs - he is buried in Hillsborough Cemetery.

    Cheers!
    Sandy

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  7. thursday night at the orange was the place to be with the wonderfull music of bill sevesi in the 60s arthur wheelhouse was the mc and had the job of trying to stop the dancers from jiveing when dances like the foxtrot were being played...

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