Bluestone House

13 Timaru Road, Waimate

  • Bluestone House.
    Copyright: NZ Historic Places Trust. Taken By: Melanie Lovell-Smith.
  • Bluestone House. Original image submitted at time of registration.
    Copyright: NZHPT Field Record Form Collection. Taken By: C Cochran. Date: 11/04/1983.
  • Bluestone House brick detail. Original image submitted at time of registration.
    Copyright: NZHPT Field Record Form Collection. Taken By: C Cochran. Date: 11/04/1983.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 2 Public Access Private/No Public Access
List Number 2040 Date Entered 23rd June 1983


Extent of List Entry

Extent includes the land described as Lot 1 DP 501476 (CT 749539), Canterbury Land District, and the building known as Bluestone House thereon.

City/District Council

Waimate District


Canterbury Region

Legal description

Lot 1 DP 501476 (CT 749539), Canterbury Land District


Constructed as an extension to the original 1860s timber home of early settlers, Lawrence and Sarah Tooher, the Bluestone House at 13 Timaru Road in Waimate was built some time between the 1860s and circa 1880 and is believed to be the oldest Waimate house continuously used as a residence. It has strong historical links with Catholicism in the town and is the town’s only dwelling constructed of stone. As such, the building has historical and architectural value.

Irishman, Lawrence Tooher, came to New Zealand in 1860 as an ‘Assisted Emigrant to Canterbury’. On 6 August 1863, labourer Lawrence Tooher took possession of a 20 acre block of land, part Rural Section 5886, which was a Crown Grant. He built a four roomed timber dwelling there. Tooher apparently wasted little time in adding four rooms of stone to the timber dwelling. The exact date of the construction of the stone building is not confirmed, but it was present by around 1880.

The Bluestone House is situated on the south side of the main road in Waimate, approximately 170 metres to the east of St Patrick’s Church. It is a single storeyed hipped roof cottage built of hard bluestone from the Waimate Gorge, with limestone dressings and quoins. The mortar appears to be a mud-plaster mix. The roof is corrugated steel. The main part of the building has a rectangular plan and the north elevation fronting the street has a centrally placed front door flanked by a pair of sash windows on each side. At the south rear is a lean-to. The use of stone in the construction of the dwelling is unusual for Waimate: the only other surviving building in the town that is built of stone is the Knox Presbyterian Church, built 1933-34.

In 1865 Tooher married Sarah MacDonal/McDonnell, a servant girl also originally from Ireland, and they raised a family in their Waimate home. The first Roman Catholic mass in the Waimate district was celebrated in Mr Larry Tooher’s home in 1865 by French priest, the Rev. Father Jean Baptiste Chataigner. Eleven people were present at the service within the house, but it is not clear if the stone part had yet been built. An active Catholic layperson, Mr Tooher acted as Father Chataigner’s guide on his journeys to the district, and he always had a room set aside for the priest to say Mass or stay overnight. When the congregation grew too big to hold services in the house, they shifted to the library hall until the first Catholic church was built in 1876. At some stage, the original (timber) part of the house was pulled down and replaced by two rooms. Two of the Toohers’ children were born by 1870 and a third in 1878. In 1882 L. Tooher advertised for sale in the Waimate Times a ‘five-roomed stone house, within a short distance of the Catholic Church’. However, Tooher did not sell the house, rather he remained there until his death in 1909. The Toohers’ son, Michael (Mickey), took over his father’s mortgage and held the ownership papers for the house until after his death in 1946, the property being transferred to Mary Goldingham in 1947. The following year, 1948, the property was transferred to William Harkness, a Waimate tractor driver. There have been a number of owners since that time. The house has been in the ownership of the Hamilton family since 1981.


Construction Professionalsopen/close

Lawrence Tooher

Owner, and likely builder of Bluestone House, Waimate - 1860s-1880

Additional informationopen/close

Construction Dates

Timber house, a previous building on site, constructed

Original Construction
Stone house constructed as addition to timber house.

Demolished - additional building on site
Original timber portion demolished and replaced by two further rooms

Completion Date

24th August 2017

Report Written By

Robyn Burgess

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 Southern Region Office of Heritage New Zealand.