View of the main foyer of the Parliamentary Library.
Wellington's first Parliament Buildings (originally located here)
In 1857, Wellington's provincial Government built new premises for itself - with an eye to housing Parliament there. Sure enough, Parliament moved into the buildings in 1865.
The buildings were soon too small for all the politicians, parliamentary staff, and Government departments. By 1873, a new Legislative Council Chamber and three-storey office block had been added. The House of Representatives chamber was enlarged, and the southern face was made more elaborately Gothic.
In the early 1880s, Thomas Turnbull provided extensions at the back. These allowed for a much grander Bellamy's restaurant, a spacious Lobby and offices, and a porch for the Council Chamber. By 1899, a fireproof Parliamentary Library stood where the original provincial chambers had been.
A fire in 1907 destroyed all Parliament's original buildings except the library.
Fires in Parliament
Fire has been a major threat to New Zealand's Parliament Buildings, which were made of wood throughout the 1800s.
At 2 a.m. on 11 December 1907, Parliament's nightwatchman thought he heard rain on the roof. It was, in fact, a fire. By sunrise, the fire had destroyed the buildings and many national treasures. Only the library remained, saved by its fireproof walls and door.
In 1992, during the renovation of Parliament Buildings, fire severely damaged the library's foyer, main staircase, plaster work, and roof. Another fire damaged the original toilets in the basement.