The Haywood Street house – just how old is it?

The story of this house is well known: it was built in or about 1858 and saved from demolition by Dr George Emery (1923-2005), who had it removed from its original location above Moray Place (off View Street) and reconstructed on the lower part of his property in Haywood Street, Mornington. A fine house for such an early date, it really is a marvel of settler craftsmanship. It also has an interesting history of occupation, with those who lived in it including the medical superintendents Edward Hulme and Isaiah De Zouche, and the art dealer Ambrose Chiaroni. It has a Category II registration with Heritage New Zealand.

A question has been niggling me though: was it really built in 1858? I recently attended a very interesting and well-researched talk by Peter Entwisle at the Otago Museum: All Shapes and Sizes – Domestic Architecture in Victorian Dunedin – The Colonial Bay Villa. I won’t summarise the talk here, but the Haywood Street house proved an intriguing and difficult example to place in the development of Dunedin’s domestic architecture, as the pre-gold rush date seemed at odds with a number of its features and influences on local design at the time. Rather than trying to reconcile the style of house to the year 1858, I’ve been wondering if the building has been misdated.

Dr Emery did much good research himself, as did Lois Galer, and early rates records suggest improvements on the site around 1858. The new information I am throwing into the mix is photographic evidence, which suggests that the house as we know it was in fact built a few years later. The image below is dated 1862, and this is confirmed by the presence of the Theatre Royal in Princes Street and the original Otago Boys’ High School under construction. It has been used to illustrate the history of the house before, but through the digital technology of Te Papa’s Collections Online it is possible to zoom in on the detail and discover more. The detail shows the verandah to be only partially constructed, an incomplete chimney, window openings without joinery or glazing, and the general appearance of a building site. An earlier cottage may well have been incorporated into the structure, but it seems that the house in its final form was under construction in the middle part of 1862. This is only four years different from the established date, but they are a significant four years in terms of Dunedin’s history, as they place the house in the thick of the gold rush period rather than ahead of it. It would be interesting to re-investigate the history of the house in the light of this knowledge, taking another look at the land records. This may be of niche interest, but because of the house’s established status as a ‘forerunner’, from an historian’s point of view it’s well worth the trouble of putting it in accurate context.

This little detective exercise is also a good example of the value of institutions making high-resolution copies of images available to researchers. Thank you Te Papa!


‘Princes Street, Dunedin in 1862’. Te Papa O.000858/01.

Detail, Te Papa O.000858/01

Galer, Lois. Houses of Dunedin: An Illustrated Collection of the City’s Historic Homes (Dunedin: Hyndman, 1995)

10 thoughts on “The Haywood Street house – just how old is it?

  1. Jeremy Salmond

    David, I’d love to get hold of a copy of Peter Entwisle’s lecture, since it’s a subject rather dear to my heart. And as a lapsed Dunedinite I wasn’t able to attend the lecture. Do you know if it’s possible to get hold of either hard or electronic copy? And I’m impressed with the research – the value of archival photographs can’t be underestimated, especially when combined with other records, and known facts about other items found in the photos. Great piece of work, and really interesting reading. And while we’re here, what is the classical structure being erected behind the house?

    1. David Murray Post author

      Thanks Jeremy – I much appreciate your kind words and will e-mail some details to follow up re the lecture. It really is amazing how much informational value a single photograph can hold. A lot could be explored through this one image. The classical structure is the original Otago Boys’ High School building, which later became Girls’ High and was eventually demolished to make way for the present Anscombe building.

  2. Amanda Lennon

    Hi. My Mum (as a massive gift for lucky me!) was the buyer in 2016, and I now live here at 16 Historic Haywood. Currently working on it to both improve its health/protection (e.g. via new plumbing, trimming some trees to let more light in, researching the correct insulation of its slate roof, etc.), and to make it prettier via improving the garden, exploring new/what it used to have as its ‘classic’ external paint colour choices, etc. Anyway, reason I’m writing this is to put a request out for anyone out there that has or has seen any historic information on this place to please send/inform me ( of it (I do already have a couple of published books and papers that include this house). The more I learn the happier myself and the house will be!

  3. Mary Cooke

    Dear Amanda,
    I have just seen your message on the website about the Haywood Street house. I am visiting New Zealand and was shown the original article about the restoration of the house. My great grandfather Isaiah de Zouche who was Superintendant of the Dunedin Hospital was one of its early owners in the 1880s to 1890s. I had no idea that anything was known about exactly where he had lived, but was planning to visit Dunedin as my grandmother was born there.
    I would be really fascinated to see the house, if it were at all possible and have sent you an email at the address you give.

    Best wishes,
    Mary de Zouche Cooke

  4. macfod

    Having recently viewed the property I was very surprised to the internal size of the property. Athens overall condition appears to be in very good condition and a credit to the current owners. Property with such character need to be maintained for the benefit of Dunedin.


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