The building that houses the Dux de Lux – pre earthquakes – has always been the gem of Montreal Street; I’m sure since it was built in 1883. It takes a lot to stand out amongst the grandeur of the neighbouring Arts Centre.
For its architect – Francis William Petre – this domestic project was pretty small fry. He had worked on many great South Island projects which included the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament for the Catholic Diocese.Named ‘Llanmaes’ – Welsh for ‘the church in the meadow ‘- by its first resident, John Lewis, I’m sure it was no small deal.
For a merchant, Llanmaes was a grand showpiece of great success. It was heated by steam too!In 1926, Llanmaes was purchased by the Canterbury University which at that time, was housed in the Arts Centre buildings. Thus began Llanmaes’ life as a part of the Canterbury University. Firstly it was Dr. Charles Chilton’s residence – the University’s “rector” and a lecturer of biology.
By 1929, it had become the home of the Student Association. It remained this until the University moved to its Ilam campus during the 1970’s.
In 1978, defeating all the odds – it was to be demolished so all funds could go to the repairs of the older stone buildings and the Dux de Lux was born. Even through the transformation of the University of Canterbury to our beloved Arts Centre, Llanmaes has moved along steadily too and is proudly stated to be part of The Arts Centre.
Since the 22nd February earthquake, the axe seemed to swing at the Dux again due to outstanding repair costs.
In true Cantab spirit, the Dux put up a fight that is now beginning to bear fruit. Even though the owners of Llanmaes wanted to demolish the building, the Arts Centre has vowed to repair all of its buildings including the Dux so now after years of uncertainty, the Dux will eventually come home.
Dux de Lux is Latin for ‘Masters of the Finest’.
*image courtesy of Tim Baird*