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AMI to open new branch for Art Deco weekend

AMI to open new branch for Art Deco weekend

Today AMI Insurance opens its new Napier branch in one of the city’s oldest Art Deco buildings –Bennett’s Building in Hastings Street. The opening has been timed to coincide with this weekend’s Art Deco Weekend and will be marked with an official opening by Napier’s Mayor Barbara Arnott on Friday evening.

AMI Insurance, which is this country’s largest wholly New Zealand-owned fire and general insurer, has confirmed its commitment both to retaining its branch network and to Napier in relocating its Napier Branch to Bennett’s Building.

“This is a fit out far superior to the plain original shop interiors it replaces, and is designed to complement the Stripped Classical exterior,” said Mr Robert McGregor, Executive Director of the Napier Art Deco Trust. “AMI has undertaken a major refurbishment that is a rare example of a national company giving a branch special treatment to enhance the local heritage of a city.”

AMI Insurance has worked alongside both the Bennett’s Building Trust and the Napier Art Deco Trust to ensure both the interior and exterior are returned to the ‘Stripped Classical’ architectural style, constructed by Harold Bennett in 1927.

Originally housing a florist and a cycle shop, the building was one of few that survived the 1931 earthquake, being the first building with a floating foundation of reinforced concrete in New Zealand, inspired by Harold Bennett’s visit to San Francisco following that city’s major earthquake. Even today many of the original windows are still in use.

Subsequently, the building served briefly as a storage place for financial and legal documents before the fires sparked by the quake swept through the building. The building was refitted and painted, and went on to house a stationers gift shop and florist.

Bennett’s Building features as part of the Napier Art Deco Trust Walks. To celebrate the Art Deco Weekend, AMI Insurance extends a warm welcome to all to come in and view the refurbishment of the building, and is opening the building for viewing on Saturday 15 January between the hours of 9:30am and 3:00pm. AMI Insurance at Bennett’s Building, 139 Hastings Street, Napier.

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