20 Avon Terrace, Nelson

  • House, Nelson.
    Copyright: John Warren. Taken By: John Warren. Date: 16/07/2010.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 2 Public Access Private/No Public Access
List Number 1559 Date Entered 25th November 1982


Extent of List Entry

Extent includes the land described as Pt Secs 354-355 City of Nelson (CT NL33/270), Nelson Land District and the building known as House thereon.

City/District Council

Nelson City


Nelson Region

Legal description

Pt Secs 354-355 City of Nelson (CT NL33/270), Nelson Land District


The house at 20 Avon Terrace is a timber two-storeyed late Victorian villa, overlooking Nelson’s Maitai River. It has architectural value because it is a characteristic late nineteenth century residence, conspicuous in its riverside location.

Nelson was the New Zealand Company’s second settlement. The site was chosen and early roads laid out by Captain Arthur Wakefield (1799–1843) in 1841. 20 Avon Terrace is located at what was Nelson’s fringe in the early period, towards the Maitai Valley. Understandably, Nelson’s centre featured greater density housing from an earlier period than this area, which remained semi-rural until the twentieth century.

This area of Nelson was the gateway to the picturesque Maitai Valley and had a number of attractions easily accessible for town recreation seekers, including ‘fine gardens’ and the Botanical Reserve and Hill. The house at 20 Avon Terrace fronts the Maitai River, traditionally popular for leisure activities such as water sports and walking. Indeed, Avon Terrace was formerly part of Nelson’s Shakespeare Walk – a riverfront public space established on the Maitai River’s east bank and named in 1842.

The house’s section, which originally fronted both Shakespeare Walk and Hardy Street, is associated with the Gascoigne family, who had been living in the Nelson region since 1853. Mrs Gascoigne owned part of section 354 in the late nineteenth century. A ‘Miss Gascoigne’, presumably either Charlotte Gascoigne Gascoigne (1848?–1929) or Caroline Marion Eliza Gascoigne (1851?–1939), is known to have had a boarding establishment on Hardy Street by 1903, which included the ‘old family residence’. The boarding facilities were located in several different buildings and the Gascoignes’ home may have been the one on the corner of Hardy and Avon Terrace, which is very similar to the house that is the subject of this report. The similarity between the two houses in the sub-divided section suggests they were constructed as a pair by the twentieth century. In 1909 the portion of the section now known as 20 Avon Terrace was transferred to the Gascoigne sisters.

The Gascoignes quickly sold the house to Charlotte Elizabeth Calder (1861?–1957). In 1937 Charlotte Calder sold the house to James William Smith (1874?–1957), a retired farmer. James’ eldest son, Colin McLean Smith (1905–1967), who was an engineer, then took over the property until his death.

The house appears to have retained much of its original or early exterior detailing, which includes modestly decorative bargeboards on the bay/gable section, corbels beneath the upper level eaves and verandah fretwork and geometric designs on the balcony balustrade wrapping around its north and west facades. A focus for detailing is the front bay window, which has a fretwork parapet and a band of dentils. Including its near neighbour on the corner of Hardy Street, the house is architecturally comparable to only a few other contemporary Nelson houses of this type on the New Zealand Heritage List/Rārangi Kōrero.


Additional informationopen/close

Construction Dates

Completion Date

27th April 2016

Report Written By

Karen Astwood

Information Sources

Journal of the Nelson and Marlborough Historical Societies

Journal of the Nelson and Marlborough Historical Societies

Spear, Aubrey, ‘Childhood memories of Sleepy Hollow’, Journal of the Nelson and Marlborough Historical Societies, vol.2, no.4, 1990, pp.21–26,

Nelson Historical Society Journal

Nelson Historical Society Journal

Some notes on their origin’, Nelson Historical Society Journal, vol.2, no.1, 1966, p.9,

Te Ara - The Encyclopedia of New Zealand

Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand

McLintock, A. H. (ed.), ‘Gascoyne, or Gascoigne, Frederick John William’, from An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand, 1966, in

Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand,, 22 April 2009 update.

Te Ara - The Encyclopedia of New Zealand

Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand

Walrond, Carl, ‘Nelson region - European settlement’, Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand,, 13 July 2012 update.

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