Sunday, 25 March 2018

Alva Martin Bartley- Architect of Landmark House Auckland

Alva consults the plans for Broadcasting House 

Today we introduce Alva Bartley, an Auckland architect influential during the interwar period.

The purpose of this post is to provide some biographical information and to clear up the question I get asked most often - was Alva a son of Edward Bartley?
The short answer is No. One of the implications of that fact I see as this- researchers may wish to reassess any assumptions concerning the influences on the architecture of Alva Bartley and Norman Wade. Just a thought.

Alva was born in Auckland in 1891, a son of Clement Bartley and grandson of Robert Bartley. As a 16 year old he passed the preliminary trades examination in technical drawing1 and three years later attained a first class pass in the South Kensington examinations. 2 At the end of 1910 he passed the Auckland Technical College programme in Architectural Design.3 Alva went on to study at Elam School of Art. 4 In 1917 he qualified 5 and married Alice Creamer.6He then embarked with the 30th Reinforements on 30 May of that year.7

There is much confusion in printed sources about Alva's pre-war study, which is why I am labouring the details in this early part of his story. Some commentators assert that Alva worked in the office of Bartley & Son before the war- the architectural practice of his great-uncle Edward Bartley in partnership with Alfred Bartley. If that is so no evidence has yet come to light. It is more likely a confusion around the identity of the A M Bartley working there - which was certainly Alfred Martin Bartley not Alva Martin Bartley. Alfred was indeed Edward's son and an architectural draftsman, but he was also an older man better known for his exceptional musical career than for design.

Alva may have had opportunity for further study while in Britain with our armed forces. His discharge documents are dated 29 July 1919 and he returned as associate of the Royal Institute of British Architects 8 We can estimate that date of return to New Zealand at late September 1919. The first tender advertisement for Alva Bartley and Norman Wade is dated October 1919, 9 from their presmises at the Brunswick Buildings in Queen St Auckland.10

Alva's business partner Norman Wade NZG 15 July1905

The Bartley-Wade partnership was a successful collaboration. Apart from the Power Board building, known as Landmark House, their designs include those for Radio NZ - the 1YA building and De Brett's Hotel. We take a closer look at some of those in later posts.

Landmark House 1929 Category 1 Historic Places Trust SGGSC 1104-8

1. ref NZH 23 Dec 1907
2. ref AES 7 Jan 1910
3. Ibid 23 Dec 1910 - note Malcolm Draffin also a classmate.
4. Ibid 2 July 1915
5 NZ Govt Gazette 1917
6. NZRBDM 1917/5858
7. ref AES 30 May 1917
8. WWI Attestation Sheets RB 56090
9. AES 22 Oct 1919
10. 174 Queen St. Both the Brunswick buildings and the Warwick Building next door were designed by Wade and Wade Architects and comprise two of the buildings making up the Canterbury Arcade.