Threave

367 High Street, Dunedin

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 1 Public Access Private/No Public Access
List Number 2163 Date Entered 27th July 1988

Locationopen/close

Extent of List Entry

Extent includes the land described as Lots 1-3 DP 5964 and Lot 5 DP 26112 (CT 132610), Otago Land District, and the house known as Threave, and its garden and outbuildings thereon.

City/District Council

Dunedin City

Region

Otago Region

Legal description

Lots 1-3 DP 5964 and Lot 5 DP 26112 (CT 132610), Otago Land District

Summaryopen/close

Threave, designed by architect James Louis Salmond in 1903, was built as a town house for Grace and Watson Shennan, wealthy runholders and owners of a number of Central Otago pastoral runs. The grand residence has historic, aesthetic and architectural significance.

The land on which Threave was built was first granted to William [Adams?] in 1862. The title was issued to William Roberts in 1875. Roberts appears to have built a residence called the ‘The Chalet.’ When his family returned to Europe, he sold the property to bank manager George Cowie in 1877. Cowie sold the property to Grace Shennan in 1900. The property was described as ‘for her sole and separate use.’ Grace Shennan owned the property till her death in 1944.

Grace Shennan was the wife of Watson Shennan, one of Otago’s most significant pastoralists, and among the first settlers to push into Central Otago. Born in Galloway, Scotland, Watson arrived in Otago in 1857, and with his brother Alexander travelled inland to look for sheep country. In the Manuherikia Valley, they found what they were looking for, taking up depasturing licences for 40,000 acres for the Galloway and Moutere runs. In the 1860s, Watson developed the Puketoi Run, the largest merino stud in New Zealand. His later holdings included Conical Hills at Tuapeka. In 1885 Watson returned to Scotland, where he married Grace Burnet, daughter of a Presbyterian minister and the couple had three children. The Shennan’s retired to Dunedin in the early years of the twentieth century, building this grand residence – which was named Threave – on High Street overlooking Dunedin.

In October 1901 architectural partnership Lawson and Salmond advertised for the ‘PURCHASE (for Removal) of the RESIDENCE in High street known as “THE CHALET.”’ In November 1901 architect Edmund Roach advertised for tenders to take down The Chalet and re-erect the building. In February 1903 Lawson and Salmond tendered for the erection of a brick residence in High street. A building permit was issued in March 1903, identifying the contractors as Foster and George. The house was complete by June 1904, when Mrs Shennan gave a small afternoon tea in her ‘new house.’

The architectural drawings are unsigned, but stylistically are more likely to be Salmond’s design. The specifications show the high quality materials and careful detailing of this significant three-storey residence. The house is brick with a slate roof and features a tower to make the most of the extensive views. Watson Shennan administered his extensive estates from Threave, while he and Grace entertained in high style at this, their town residence.

On Grace Shennan’s death in 1943, the house was sold to University of Otago mathematics and statistics lecturer Allan Orton. Orton converted the residence into flats. One of his tenants, Professor Geoff Baylis (1913-2003) bought the property and set about restoring the house, keeping it flats but working with the original layout and interior detailing. Baylis was the University of Otago’s first Professor of Botany and head of the Botany Department for 34 years from 1945 until his retirement in 1978. The garden at Threave and at the historic house at 828 George Street that Baylis also owned provided him many hours of pleasure and had a ‘remarkable range of native and exotic plants’, reflecting his skills and interests. For some years Threave has been used as boutique accommodation.

Assessment criteriaopen/close

Historical Significance or Value

The brothers, Watson, Alexander and John Shennan took up the Galloway and Moutere runs in 1858. They stocked the runs with sheep driven in over the Lammerlaws by 1859. They imported 15 rams and 27 ewes from the King of Prussia's Potsdam Merino stud, as well as importing long-wooled breeds from Scotland. They were therefore the first settlers in Central Otago, the first to drive sheep inland and the first to import stud stock into Central Otago.

Watson sold Moutere and Galloway in 1863 and returned to Scotland. When he returned to New Zealand he bought Puketoi and in 1878 Conical Hills Estate as well. This High Street house was his retirement home where he lived until he died in 1920. His widow, Grace Shennan, owned the house until her death in 1944 when it was bought by A A Orton, who converted it into flats for University staff. The property was called Threave after the Shennan family home of Threave House in Kirkcudbright, Scotland. Watson came of a family interested in gardening (the Scottish Threave House became a training school for gardeners), and a large garden was establish around the High Street house. The present owner has had considerable problems, both structural and bureaucratic, maintaining the house, since the city building regulations and rating system are not well designed for the continued use of such a house as this.

The house stands in three quarters of an acre of grounds with many fine trees about 80 years old. Since the house was purchased in 1960 by Dr Baylis, head of the Department of Botany at the University of Otago (1945-1979), the garden has been well cared for and enhanced in a manner appropriate to the vintage of the house, and the mature trees owe much to his expert care. The garden in particular should be considered as a monument to Dr Baylis, as an influential teacher of Botany in New Zealand in the mid twentieth century. He also initiated and carried out important work on nutrient uptake in native trees as controlled by mycorrhiza, which has developed under his guidance into a major area of fundamental botanical research into the ecology of our native flora.

ARCHITECTURAL SIGNIFICANCE:

If Lawson designed this house, it shows that he had absorbed a number of contemporary influences such as the work of Charles Eastlake, and could sympathetically incorporate them into the austere window designs of the Dunedin two storied two bay villa. The original woodwork on Montecillo was similar.

TOWNSCAPE/LANDMARK SIGNIFICANCE:

A major house and an important garden of mature trees on High Street, one of the older and grander of Dunedin's residential streets.

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Construction Professionalsopen/close

Lawson, Robert Arthur

Born in Scotland, Lawson (1833-1902) began his professional career in Perth. At the age of 25 he moved to Melbourne and was engaged in goldmining and journalism before resuming architectural practice. In 1862 Lawson sailed for Dunedin, where his sketch plans had won the competition for the design of First Church. This was built 1867-73. Lawson went on to become one of the most important architects in New Zealand. First Church is regarded as his masterpiece and one of the finest nineteenth century churches in New Zealand.

He was also responsible for the design of the Trinity Church (now Fortune Theatre), Dunedin (1869-70), the East Taieri Presbyterian Church (1870), and Knox Church, Dunedin (1874). He designed Park's School (1864) and the ANZ Bank (originally Union Bank, 1874). In Oamaru he designed the Bank of Otago (later National Bank building, 1870) and the adjoining Bank of New South Wales (now Forrester Gallery, 1881).

See also: Ledgerwood, Norman, 2013. 'R.A. Lawson: Victorian Architect of Dunedin'. Historic Cemeteries Conservation NZ.

Salmond, James Louis

James Louis Salmond (1868-1950) was born in North Shields, England. He was educated at Otago Boys' High School and began his career articled to Robert Arthur Lawson (1833-1902). Salmond initially practised on his own account but later rejoined Lawson in partnership. Salmond took over the practice when Lawson died in 1902.

Salmond was the architect of over 20 churches in Otago including the Presbyterian churches at Roslyn, Kaikorai, North Dunedin and the Wesleyan church at Mornington. He designed many private residences including Watson Shennan's house at 367 High Street, as well as those at 114 Cargill Street and 14 Pitt Street, all in Dunedin.

Salmond was president of the Otago Art Society, and also served a term as president of the New Zealand Institute of Architects.

His son Arthur joined the firm having studied in London and his grandson John continues to work in the firm today. It is now known as Salmond Anderson Architects.

Foster and George

Foster and George was a Dunedin firm of building contractors active between 1879 and 1911. The principals were Henry Charles Foster (d.1923) and Charles Edward George (d. 1932). Henry Charles Foster arrived in Dunedin in 1849, entering the building trade under the tutelage of his father, Henry Angel Foster.

Foster and George were involved in commercial and residential projects, including the Ravensbourne Baths (1885), alterations to Harris Imperial Boot Depot (1885), Mornington School Gymnasium (1899), Benjamin And Co. Warehouse, Stores and Offices (Dowling Street, 1901), alterations to the Athenaeum (1902, with Lawson and Salmond), Myer’s Building on George Street (1905, with E.M. Roach) and Watson Shennan’s residence, Threave, in 1903.

Foster and George retired in 1911.

Additional informationopen/close

Physical Description

ARCHITECTS:

The architects were Lawson and Salmond. Lawson died in December 1902 but descendants of Watson Shennan understand that Lawson designed the house, in which case it would be Lawson's last house. The design is however more typical of the work of Lawson's partner, J L Salmond. The proportions and decorations are very similar to those of Monticello which Salmond designed in 1904 (Galer 181, 1984), but Salmond may have been copying Lawson, just as Wales, when designing Cambell Park, seems to have copied Judge Chapman's house built by Petre.

SIGNIFICANCE OF ARCHITECTS:

Lawson was one of the most important of Dunedin's Victorian architects, designing several gothic churches including First Church. Otago Boys' High School on Arthur Street was one of his major works. John Louis Salmond was educated at Otago Boys' High School and did his training under Lawson. He specialised in grand private houses around Dunedin as well as elegant villas such as his own at 1 Michie Street.

ARCHITECTURAL DESCRIPTION (Style):

The style of this house borrows from the Gothic in its narrow windows and peaked ganles, and shows Queen Anne influences in its corner turret, its tall chimneys with expanded tops and the moulded orange tiles on the roof ridges. The decorative woodwork under the gables and along the verandas and balconies show Charles Eastlake's influence (J Salmond 1986). It is still recognisably a development from the bid Dunedin two bay villas with extra bays and gables.

MODIFICATIONS:

The house was converted to flats in the 1940s and under the present owner these have been upgraded to provide elegant accommodation in keeping with the house's original grandeur. The last of the inappropriate dividing walls of the 1940s are being removed at present.

Notable Features

The association of the house with Watson Shennan and with the last years of Lawson's professional life, the degrees of preservation, the large and appropriate garden and the association of both the house and the garden with Dr GTS Baylis.

Construction Dates

Original Construction
1903 -

Modification
-
The house was converted into flats

Modification
-
The owner has upgraded the flats to provide elegant accommodation in keeping with the house's original grandeur and any inappropriate walls of the 1940s removed.

Construction Details

The foundations are concrete, the walls triple brick and the roof is covered with orange tiles. The site is steep and the foundations massive. Railway lines have been incorporated into the concrete at least in the foundations near the front steps. The house is basically two storied but on the lower side the basement was large enough to contain a ballroom/playroom, and the attics had not only storerooms but also two servants' bedrooms.

Completion Date

10th October 2016

Report Written By

Heather Bauchop

Information Sources

Galer, 1981

L. Galer, Houses and Homes, Allied Press, Dunedin, 1981

Salmond, 1986

Jeremy Salmond, Old New Zealand Houses 1800-1940, Auckland, 1986, Reed Methuen

Toitu - the Otago Settlers' Museum

Biography of Watson Shennan. URL: http://www.toituosm.com/collections/smith-gallery/wall-2/watson-shennan

New Zealand Journal of Botany

Peter Wardle & David Galloway (2004) Obituary, New Zealand Journal of

Botany, 42:4, 709-714, DOI: 10.1080/0028825X.2004.9512922

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.

A fully referenced upgrade report is available on request from the Otago/Southland Area Office of Heritage New Zealand.