28 Ranfurly Street, Palmerston North

  • House, 28 Ranfurly Street.
    Copyright: Palmerston North City Council.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 2 Public Access Private/No Public Access
List Number 1263 Date Entered 2nd July 1982


Extent of List Entry

Extent includes the land described as Pt Sec 1050 Town of Palmerston North (CT WN259/245), Wellington Land District, and the building known as House thereon.

City/District Council

Palmerston North City


Horizons (Manawatu-Wanganui) Region

Legal description

Pt Sec 1050 Town of Palmerston North (CT WN259/245), Wellington Land District


The house at 28 Ranfurly Street is a beautifully detailed corner angle bay villa with aesthetic and architectural heritage value. Despite its relatively modest size, it has considerable presence owing to its particularly complicated arrangement of bays and verandah. The house’s authenticity of design and materials on the exterior is impressive, comparing well to more substantial historic places in Palmerston North.

Initially laid out in 1866 in a forest clearing that included the remnants of Papaioea pā constructed by the Rangitāne people, Palmerston North began rapid expansion after the arrival of the railroad in 1886. During this heady time of growth, Edward Holben and William Kirk established a partnership in 1896, quickly becoming the city’s preeminent general engineering firm, addressing needs ranging from dairy and refrigeration machinery to plumbing, and metal and electrical work.

Around 1899, Frank Kirk began working for Holben & Kirk, eventually becoming a skilled plumber. In 1902, his prospects undoubtedly assured, Kirk married Isabel Standen and one year later purchased a half-acre section at 28 Ranfurly Street. The Kirks proceeded with the construction of a handsome villa in 1905.

The villa was the ubiquitous residential building type around the turn of the twentieth century. The type’s versatility made it easily adaptable and it could be scaled up or down in size and embellishment to suit households across the socioeconomic spectrum. The Kirk’s villa on Ranfurly Street represented one of the more complicated variations of villa architecture—the corner angle bay type, having a hipped gable roof and an L-shaped verandah running between major front- and side-facing bays with a third, smaller bay at the midpoint of the verandah as it turned the corner of the house. The bays and verandah were further embellished with decorative brackets, turned posts, and fretwork.

Where the verandah was the primary character-defining feature on the exterior of a villa, the centre hall held the same status on the interior. Common conventions for the layout of villas were that the parlour and best bedroom flanked the front door; the kitchen and service spaces (washhouse, WC, bathroom, scullery), some occupying a lean-to, were arranged at the back; and family bedrooms and sometimes a dining room occupying the remainder of the space. Without clear grouping of rooms by function, the centre hall and a lack of communicating doors between adjacent rooms became the best way of buffering public from private from service within the villa.

The Kirks sold the villa in 1917, perhaps in anticipation of Frank Kirk’s departure from Holben & Kirk to establish his own firm, which occurred in 1919. On the exterior, the villa is in good condition and maintains its heritage values as the character-defining and decorative features of villa type remain extant and visible. On the interior, while there are indications that the house’s condition has been reduced, the villa plan appears to be intact and fully discernible.


Additional informationopen/close

Construction Dates

Original Construction
1905 -

Structural upgrade
New concrete piles

Kitchen and bathroom modernised; coal range in dining area replaced with fireplace

Completion Date

31st October 2016

Report Written By

James A. Jacobs

Information Sources

Salmond, 1986

Jeremy Salmond, Old New Zealand Houses, 1880-1940. Auckland: Reed, 1986.

Other Information

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.

A fully referenced upgrade report is available on request from the Central Region Office of Heritage New Zealand