Pompous provincial politician William Sefton Moorhouse built himself a rather grand house on the South side of Hereford Street in the early 1850s. It stood near Colombo Street in the block that terminates at Oxford Terrace.
A decade later the central business district was spreading beyond Cashel Street and the location of his house became much favoured by the Banks, Insurance companies and Solicitors, etc. The Bank of New South Wales built new premises in what had been Bill Moorhouse's front garden.
The brick and stone Bank premises survived until 1903, at which time they were replaced by four stories of Edwardian neo-Classic reinforced concrete, to be known as National Insurance House.
The National Insurance Company of New Zealand Limited moved on to larger premises in Gloucester Street, and their old building passed to The North Queensland Insurance Company Limited, becoming known as the QBE Building, with Viscount Bolingbroke's Atlantic & Pacific Travel on the ground floor.
In 2008 the heritage category 3 building is occupied by a cafe, various offices and a couple of apartments. It is currently for sale at $1,950,000.
The illustration is the work of the renowned Christchurch illustrator and set designer Luciana Orr.