Page 1: Biography
Toxward, Christian Julius
This biography, written by Chris Cochran, was first published in the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography in 1993.
Christian Julius Toxværd (Toxward) was born on 26 November 1831 in Copenhagen, Denmark, the son of Christian Henrich Toxværd, chair-maker, and his wife, Ane Margrethe Schmidt. Between 1841 and 1851 he studied at the Kunstakademiet (Academy of Fine Arts) apparently without passing any final examination. Afterwards he emigrated to Australia where he sought gold at Ballarat and other fields. He arrived in Invercargill, New Zealand, about 1861 and was for a time employed by the Southland provincial government. On 7 October 1864 he married Jane Hall Hughes at St John's Church in Invercargill.
By 1866 Christian Toxward had moved to Wellington. That year he designed St Andrew's Church, the foundation stone of which was laid in June; and major additions to St Mary's Cathedral, making it 'one of the finest' ecclesiastical structures in the colony. Shortly afterwards Toxward designed additions to St Paul's Cathedral Church (Old St Paul's): the south transept was built in 1868, the north transept and north aisle extension in 1874.
Toxward's versatility as an architect is illustrated by the variety of buildings he designed. These included the Kirkcaldie and Stains store (1868), the synagogue (1869), the Wellington Provincial Council Buildings (1872), Wellington College and Grammar School (1868) and Wellington College (1874), a warehouse for Joseph Nathan and Company (1873), the Union Bank of Australia and the Wellington hospital (1875), the AMP building (1877), a new St Andrew's Church (1879), and a house for Walter Buller (1883). These buildings were all built in timber. The styles chosen were appropriate for the building type: churches and schools were generally designed in an idiosyncratic Gothic style with flying buttresses, pinnacles and crockets; the government and commercial buildings in a similarly personal classical style, characterised by intricate detailing of parapets, cornices and pediments. In 1883 Toxward prepared detailed designs and specifications for dairy factories. These were published by the government printer on the instruction of the premier, Frederick Whitaker.
In 1875 Toxward designed a three-storeyed office and warehouse building with a bonded store behind for Jacob Joseph and Company. These two buildings in brick and concrete were important as the first masonry buildings and 'the first really substantial business premises' in the capital. Since the earthquakes of 1848 and 1855 all building in Wellington had been in timber.
Christian Toxward was district grand master of the Freemasons from 1879, a director of several companies, a justice of the peace, the Danish consul in New Zealand, and an artist. He died suddenly in Wellington on 30 September 1891, six weeks after the death of his wife, leaving two sons and two daughters.
Today little of Toxward's work remains, the most significant being the additions he made to St Paul's Cathedral Church. He is acknowledged, nevertheless, as the first major architect in private practice in Wellington and the first to build in masonry when Wellington was still a city built entirely in timber.