468 Remuera Road And Orakei Road, Remuera, Auckland
List Entry Information
List Entry Status
List Entry Type
Historic Place Category 2
Private/No Public Access
26th November 1981
Extent of List Entry
Extent includes the land described as Lot 7 DP 44123 (CT NA121C/490), North Auckland Land District, and the buildings known as Elmstone thereon
Auckland Council (Auckland City Council)
Lot 7 DP 44123 (CT NA121C/490), North Auckland Land District
Described as the ‘the last house of its type to be built in Auckland’, the opulent English Renaissance style house, known as Elmstone, is set back from the road at the corner of Remuera and Orakei Roads; it was constructed in 1909-10 to a design by the architect B. C. Chilwell for businessman Victor Larner. The place has architectural significance as one of the last Reumera residences to be built in this style, just before the domestic dominance of the Arts and Crafts style. It is also a notable early work by Chilwell, who had recently arrived from England. The place has historical significance for reasons that include its connections with Victor John Larner, ‘one of the leading brokers of the city’, director and chairman of several notable companies; later the honorary treasurer of the trust to create the Auckland War Memorial Museum. The building’s opulence additionally demonstrates the lifestyle of some of Auckland’s business elite at a time when the regional economy was thriving.
Remuera has been associated with the settlement of rich and successful Aucklanders since the middle of the nineteenth century. From about 1900, the palatial houses of the richest Victorians made room for the smaller, but nevertheless grand townhouses of the city’s Edwardian elite. The earliest record of private ownership was in 1858, when the site at the corner of Remuera and Orakei Roads was granted to Stephen Rabone. Over the next fifty years the land passed through several hands; there is no evidence of buildings at the site during this time. In 1909 the land was acquired by the Larner family and shortly thereafter advertisements for tenders to construct a ‘residence, in brick…for V. J. Larner’ were posted by Chilwell. The building contract was awarded to an A. Grandison and would cost about £6,000.
Elmstone was (perhaps satirically) referred to as ‘Larner’s Remuera palace’ and was designed in the English Renaissance style. In the early 1920s, it contained spaces that included a billiard room, card room, lounge, drawing room, breakfast room and dining room. Elmstone was laid out around a symmetrical double-pile plan with an offset service wing. The exterior’s crenellated bay windows on either side of the garden loggia, as well as details like rusticated quoins and heavy cornices give the impression of a grand medieval residence. It has been noted that Elmstone was ‘intended to impress with its opulence and size’ following the tradition of the grand Victorian house of the late nineteenth century. This is very much at odds with the simpler Arts and Crafts style employed in Remuera (including by Chilwell) in the early 1900s. The house was set in impressively planted grounds that were described in 1935 as containing one of Auckland’s ‘most notably beautiful’ floral displays.
Victor Larner died in 1955 and the land surrounding the house was subdivided into at least eighteen separate lots, with the house and gardens remaining in the centre. In 1957 the house was bought by James and Yvonne Richards, who later sold to William Hing in 1961. The installation of exterior fire escapes under Hing’s ownership in 1963 indicates that the building was either converted to flats or a rest home at this time; the first reference to the name ‘Elmstone Rest Home’ dates to 1972. The rest home changed its name to ‘Sunrise Lodge’ in 1983. The property passed back into private hands in 1987 and large scale renovations were undertaken to convert the building back into a private residence, and a new garage constructed. Since then, the most substantial alterations have been the construction of a new portico in a matching style in 2001 and the addition of an en suite bathroom/wardrobe space on the first floor in 2003.
Chilwell, Benjamin Charles
Born in England (d.1950), Chilwell came to New Zealand about 1907 and practised architecture in Auckland for nearly 40 years, undertaking a wide variety of domestic, commercial and industrial buildings. In 1914 he entered into partnership with Cecil Trevithick (d.1967), an Auckland architect. Their buildings include Myer's Kindergarten (1916), the 1924 additions to St Andrew's Anglican Church, Epsom (1867), Edean's Building (1914), Whitcombe and Tombs Ltd Building (1916), Rutland Building (1929) and the Arthur Eady Building, Queen Street (1939).
Exterior fire escapes created
Renovations to main house and new garage erected.
1909 - 1910
5th June 2015
Report Written By
Auckland Star, 6 Jun 1923, p.12; 19 Nov 1935, p.6.
15 November 1909, p.10
John Stacpoole and Peter Beaven, 'Architecture 1820-1970', Wellington, 1972
Carlyon and Morrow, 2011
Carlyon, Jenny, and Diana Morrow, A Fine Prospect: A History of Remuera, Meadowbank and St Johns, Auckland, 2011.
Macky & White, 2010
Macky, Peter and Paul Waite, Coolangatta A Homage: The Life and Times of Auckland’s Most Admired Residence, Auckland, 2010.
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 Northern Region Office of Heritage New Zealand