31 Bronte Street, 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 1561 Date Entered 25th November 1982


Extent of List Entry

Extent includes the land described as Pt Sec 479 City of Nelson, Lot 2 DP 131 (CT NL53/196), Nelson Land District and the building known as House thereon, as shown in the extent map tabled at the Rarangi Korero Committee meeting on 29 September 2016.

City/District Council

Nelson City


Nelson Region

Legal description

Pt Sec 479 City of Nelson, Lot 2 DP 131 (CT NL53/196), Nelson Land District


The house at 31 Bronte Street, Nelson, is a good example of a representative early twentieth century timber bay villa. It has some historic significance because it is associated with the Holbrooks and Millers, Nelson early settler families who were longstanding Bronte Street residents and valued members of the local construction industry.

Nelson’s first roads were given names associated with 1st Viscount Nelson (1758–1805), including Bronte of which he was Duke. There was a house on Bronte Street’s town acre 478 by the mid-1870s. The section was subdivided in the late nineteenth century and 31 Bronte Street seems to have been part of earnest residential development in the area around the turn of the twentieth century. The house at 31 Bronte Street was constructed circa 1900, potentially when still in William Miller’s (1842?–1909) ownership. He ran a monumental masonry, bricklaying, plastering and slating contracting business, W. Miller and Son, and was an ‘old and respected resident of the city’.

The property was transferred to Barton Holbrook (1879–1960), a local carpenter, in 1902 and he took up residence there a few years later. Coinciding with this, in 1904 the house was connected to the sewerage system. It is unclear whether this was part of installing services into the newly constructed house or as the result of modifications in preparation for his marriage to Amelia Elizabeth Mason (1881?–1957). Around this time he worked for Robertson Brothers Limited, who had a relatively large Nelson factory, specialising in timber doors and sashes and wood turning and carving. Holbook was well-respected among the workers there.

Holbrook and his neighbours - his sister Mary Ann (1873?–1963) and brother-in-law George Miller (1872–1949), William’s son who was also a monumental mason - were long-term residents of their Bronte Street houses. The backyard of 31 Bronte Street was expanded in the 1920s through the acquisition of some neighbouring land. Holbrook lived at 31 Bronte Street until his death, at which time the property was purchased by a school master, James Ferguson and his wife. The property had different owners each decade until the turn of the twenty-first century.

The house is a typical corner bay villa from this period - 31 Bronte Street is clad in rusticated weatherboards, has a central gutter roof, a straight-roofed front return verandah with fretwork and double-hung sash windows. It has retained a high level of original or early features. Among these are the random rubble front boundary fence and modest decorative elements like the entrance door fan- and side-lights, corbels, bargeboards and finials.

This house is located at the intersection with Richmond Avenue and the area features a group of representative late nineteenth and early twentieth century houses of various styles recognised as Category 2 historic places on the New Zealand Heritage List/Rārangi Kōrero (the List). 31 Bronte Street is the only bay villa in the group. It also stands out among Nelson’s other bay villas on the List, which are mostly single or double bay examples.


Additional informationopen/close

Construction Dates

Original Construction
1900 -

Completion Date

4th August 2016

Report Written By

Karen Astwood

Information Sources

Salmond, Jeremy, 1986

Old New Zealand Houses 1800-1940, Reed Methuen, Auckland, 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