Mount Vernon Station Homestead

106 Lindsay Road, Waipukurau

  • Mt Vernon Station Homestead. Photographer unknown: Permission of the Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand, must be obtained before any re-use of this image.
    Copyright: Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington.
  • Mount Vernon Station Homestead. Octboer 1986. Image included in Field Record Form Collection.
    Copyright: Heritage New Zealand. Taken By: C Cochran.
  • Mount Vernon Station Homestead. October 1986. Image included in Field Record Form Collection.
    Copyright: Heritage New Zealand. Taken By: C Cochran.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 1 Public Access Private/No Public Access
List Number 174 Date Entered 2nd July 1987

Locationopen/close

City/District Council

Central Hawke's Bay District

Region

Hawke's Bay Region

Legal description

Blks 93 95 Lot 2 Pt 1 DP 8785 Sec 46 B

Assessment criteriaopen/close

Historical Significance or Value

HISTORICAL SIGNIFICANCE

Mt Vernon Station was established by John Harding in 1853 and the present homestead is the third on the site. The station is still owned by the Harding family. John Harding was a self-made man, a staunch Methodist and Temperance man who with Sir William Fox founded the New Zealand Alliance in 1886. Mt Vernon Homestead is more of a large family home than an ostentatious mansion. The station was at times hard pressed financially and was propped up between the 1860s and 1890s by capital from the wealthy English aristocrat, the Hon Algernon Tollemache. The house was damaged in the 1931 earthquake and remained unoccupied until 1957 when it was restored by the present owner. Mount Vernon has historic and social significance as part of the distinct type of land owning hierarchy which developed in Canterbury and Hawkes Bay in the second half of the nineteenth century, and for its long association with the Harding family.

ARCHITECTURAL SIGNIFICANCE

Mount Vernon is one of Hawkes Bay's most imposing homesteads. It is an elegant structure incorporating refined classical detailing. The design of the house shows the influence of American domestic architecture in the arrangement of the verandah and use of Classical motifs. The founder of Mount Vernon, John Harding, was an admirer of George Washington and it is reasonable to assume he instructed Ben Smith to design something resembling Washington's famous residence.

TOWNSCAPE/LANDMARK SIGNIFICANCE

The Homestead is superbly sited on a rise and faces north across the Tuki Tuki river from Waipukurau. The building is set within a park containing many historic trees. There are Chilca trees on the estate, the seeds of which were sent by John Harding's son Josiah, from South America.

SPECIAL FEATURES

Interior panelling in New Zealand timbers. Circular Kauri staircase in the downstairs hall. Harding family museum in the basement.

Linksopen/close

Construction Professionalsopen/close

Smith, Ben (1827-1883)

Ben Smith (1827-1883 is a little known architect who also practiced as a Civil Engineer and Quantity Surveyor. He worked in Christchurch, Wellington and Hawkes Bay. He was mainly concerned with the design of houses and commercial buildings. Mt Vernon was his most important private commission and the lone surviving example of his work.

Additional informationopen/close

Physical Description

ARCHITECTURAL DESCRIPTION (STYLE)

A substantial two storeyed homestead on an elevated site with a large concrete basement and an elegant verandah and balcony along its western side. The main fa├žade has a centrally placed 'porte-cochere' flanked by bay windows through two floors.

MODIFICATIONS

Shutters added after house completed.

SPECIAL FEATURES

Interior panelling in New Zealand timbers. Circular Kauri staircase in the downstairs hall. Harding family museum in the basement.

Construction Dates

Original Construction
1882 -

Other
1931 -
House badly damaged by Napier earthquake

Modification
1932 -
Exterior sheathed in corrugated iron

Modification
1940 -
Exterior resheathed in heart Matai

Demolished - Other
1957 -
Servants' wing demolished

Modification
1957 -
Interior relined completely with fibrous plaster

Construction Details

Exterior walls: Weatherboard

Roof: "Duchess" Slate tiles

Interior Linings: Lath and plaster

Panelling: Rimu and Kauri

Other Information

This historic place was registered under the Historic Places Act 1980. This report includes the text from the original Building Classification Committee report considered by the NZHPT Board at the time of registration.

Please note that entry on the New Zealand Heritage List/Rarangi Korero identifies only the heritage values of the property concerned, and should not be construed as advice on the state of the property, or as a comment of its soundness or safety, including in regard to earthquake risk, safety in the event of fire, or insanitary conditions.