Historical Significance or Value
The place is historically significant for demonstrating the wealth of Auckland’s political, mercantile and professional elite in the mid to late nineteenth century. It has particular value for reflecting the suburban estate lifestyle adopted by many affluent families from the 1860s onwards. As one of a network of wealthy estate residences in the vicinity, the place demonstrates Epsom’s early growth as a prosperous suburb of Auckland.
The place also has historical significance for its associations with several members of the landed, political and mercantile elite of nineteenth-century Auckland. These include Henry Ellis an early Auckland merchant who commissioned construction of the house as a family home and who later entered provincial government politics; James O’Neill and Thomas Henderson, owner occupiers who sold respectively upon being called to sit in the Legislative Council, the upper house of New Zealand’s parliament; and banker Joseph Elam Pounds who subsequently became a casualty of note in the late nineteenth-century land speculation crash in Victoria.
Marivare has particular historical value for its seven and a half-decade association with the family of prominent Auckland lawyer, businessman and landscape gardener J. B. Russell and some of his descendants. Russell founded the important law firm of Russell McVeigh.
Aesthetic Significance or Value
Marivare has aesthetic significance as a visually interesting composition consisting of a two-and-a half-storey colonial timber residence with return verandahs and French doors; a late nineteenth-century ballroom incorporating battlements on the exterior; and a late-Victorian conservatory. The place has particular aesthetic significance for the visual variety and quality of surviving elements of its nineteenth-century interior including door cases and hall window with orange and turquoise coloured glass, staircase, fireplaces, kitchen tiling, drawing room ceiling with decorative impressed panels, joinery, remnant wall linings in the ballroom and surface finishes of considerable antiquity including hand-painted scenes on four door panels. The place also has aesthetic value for its surviving setting including a nineteenth-century totara tree, stone retaining wall and steps, and formal entrance steps and verandah floor with terracotta tiling.
Architectural Significance or Value
The place has architectural value as an unusually well-preserved example of a Regency-style estate homestead of timber construction dating from the early to mid 1860s, with a ballroom of brick construction and a conservatory, additions that date from the 1880s. It reflects changes in architectural design during the mid to late nineteenth century, and the affluence and eclectic tastes of some sectors of late-Victorian colonial society.
Social Significance or Value
The place reflects attitudes to social status among the colonial political, business and professional elite in the mid to late nineteenth century through its location, appearance and layout. It also reflects social connections in these circles. The place has particular significance for illustrating the tastes, leisure activities and past times of well-to-do members of suburban society, and the manner in which a large suburban household operated.
(a) The extent to which the place reflects important or representative aspects of New Zealand history
The place reflects the early development of suburban residential estates on the fringe of the colonial capital during a period of economic buoyancy stemming from military spending immediately before and during the second New Zealand - or Waikato - War; and construction activity during Auckland’s economic boom of the early to mid 1880s. The place is particularly significant for reflecting the presence of landed, political and mercantile elites on the urban fringe in mid to late nineteenth-century Auckland.
(b) The association of the place with events, persons, or ideas of importance in New Zealand history
The place is significant for its associations with Auckland provincial politician and government official Henry Ellis, an Ulsterman who was closely associated with nineteenth-century British colonisation in the province as a military volunteer in the 1860s; and as an immigration agent and later as Immigration Officer for Auckland during the 1870s which included an association with Vesey Stewart’s Special Settlement at Katikati - a rare planned migration of Irish Protestant farming families to the colony.
The place also has value as the residence of other prominent figures in colonial Auckland, particularly Thomas Henderson and John Russell. Henderson was a well-established early Auckland businessman who co-founded Henderson and Macfarlane, a timber milling, warehousing and shipping firm with vessels plying the coastal and Pacific Island trades as the Circular Saw Line. A member of the Legislative Council, Henderson was one of the founders of the New Zealand Insurance Company (1859), the Bank of New Zealand (1861), and the New Zealand Loan and Mercantile Agency (1865) which were dominant financial institutions in the nineteenth-century New Zealand economy. Marivare was also the residence of noted Auckland, lawyer, businessman and landscape gardener J. B. Russell who founded a legal practice in 1863 that became Russell McVeigh, one of the largest law firms in twenty-first century New Zealand.
(c) The potential of the place to provide knowledge of New Zealand history
Marivare has outstanding significance for its potential to provide information about nineteenth-century approaches to social status, the display of wealth, and the decorative tastes of elite households in New Zealand. As a particularly well-preserved residence of 1860s date with later nineteenth-century modifications and additions, the place has special potential to provide information about the development of colonial housing and domestic activity in New Zealand, including the social significance of architectural style, layout and ornamentation. Marivare also has potential to provide information about nineteenth-century materials including coloured glass, decorative products and finishes, some of which may be rare or unusual survivals. Its well-preserved ballroom and conservatory can provide information about recreation and other activities in elite late nineteenth-century households.
(g) The technical accomplishment or value, or design of the place
The place has outstanding value for the visual impact of its design through its exceptionally well-preserved nineteenth-century exterior, internal spaces, features and finishes. External elements of note include its wide, double-storey return verandahs. Important internal elements encompass cast iron fireplaces, well-preserved examples of nineteenth-century tiling including plain surfaces in part of the former kitchen and scullery; decorative tiling in the fireplaces and hearths in the former ballroom; and tessellated floors in the verandah and part of the conservatory. Significant materials include coloured glass believed to date from the 1860s; well-preserved 1880s ceiling panels of what is believed to be a rare local example of linoleum-like material with impressed patterning; remnants of a late-Victorian three-piece dado with botanical and insect motifs; and paper wall-linings including an anaglypta frieze with an early painted finish. The place has special significance for floor and paint finishes of antiquity, including four small door panels with hand painted scenery that are believed to be works of late nineteenth- or early twentieth-century date. The interior reflects the patina of age to an unusual extent.
The place has special value as a particularly well-preserved timber residence of colonial Regency design which, combined with similarly intact late nineteenth-century additions, demonstrate a shift from Georgian to Victorian architecture in colonial New Zealand. It is a relatively uncommon example of a nineteenth-century residence with a surviving ballroom; and incorporates a comparatively early extant example of a conservatory in the Auckland region. It retains hard landscape features including front entrance steps with tiling and a nineteenth century stone retaining wall with a set of steps, as well as two trees of some antiquity.
(i) The importance of identifying places known to date from early periods of New Zealand settlement
Marivare is a well-preserved early colonial residence that dates to the period when Auckland was the colonial capital of New Zealand.
(k) The extent to which the place forms part of a wider historical and cultural complex or historical and cultural landscape
The place forms a notable part of a significant and comparatively well-preserved historical and cultural landscape in Epsom, a nineteenth-century colonial suburb favoured by the influential and wealthy among Auckland’s citizenry for their residential estates. It is one of a number of significant mid nineteenth-century estate buildings in the Epsom area, which include Highwic, Clifton, Rocklands Hall, Rockwood, the former St John’s Wood, and Prospect. The place also forms part of a historical and cultural landscape in South Epsom which includes the John Logan Campbell Monument, the former Epsom Post Office, Marivare Reserve (formerly part of the Marivare grounds) with surviving nineteenth-century Spanish oak trees, and a later War Memorial arch constructed on land donated by a member of the Russell family to commemorate local men who died in combat during the First World War. Other important elements of the South Epsom landscape encompass the extensive pa at Maungakiekie, and several recognised historic places in Cornwall Park, One Tree Hill Domain and Green Lane Hospital.
It is considered that this place qualifies as a Category I historic place. Marivare has outstanding significance for its potential to provide information about nineteenth-century approaches to social status, the display of wealth, and the decorative tastes of elite households in New Zealand. As a particularly well-preserved residence of 1860s date with later nineteenth-century modifications and additions, the place has special potential to provide information about the development of colonial housing and domestic activity in New Zealand, including the social significance of architectural style, layout and ornamentation.
The place has outstanding value for the visual impact of its design through its exceptionally well-preserved nineteenth-century exterior, internal spaces, features and finishes. External elements of note include its wide, double-storey return verandahs. Important internal elements encompass cast iron fireplaces, well-preserved examples of nineteenth-century tiling including plain surfaces in part of the former kitchen and scullery; decorative tiling in the fireplaces and hearths in the former ballroom; and tessellated floors in the verandah and part of the conservatory. The place has special significance for floor and paint finishes of antiquity, including four small door panels with hand painted scenery that are believed to be works of late nineteenth- or early twentieth-century date.
The place has special value as a particularly well-preserved timber residence of colonial Regency design which, combined with similarly intact late nineteenth-century additions, demonstrates a shift from Georgian to Victorian architecture in colonial New Zealand.
Early history of the site
Marivare is located in Epsom, within the central part of the Auckland isthmus. The property lies to the southwest of Mt St John (Te Kopuke or Tikikopuke), a pa occupied by Waiohua peoples under the leadership of Kiwi Tamaki in the early 1700s. Mt St John was part of the broader Auckland isthmus taken over by Ngati Whatua in the eighteenth century preceding Auckland’s founding as colonial capital in 1840.
Subdivided into farms as early as 1842, the wider Epsom area became renowned for its large country homes and later as a prestigious residential suburb. The site on which Marivare was later built was one of two adjoining Crown Grants, each of approximately 3.6 hectares, made to William Field Porter (1784-1869) in 1842. Formerly a ship owner, Porter had arrived in Auckland 1841 and briefly traded as a general merchant before taking up farming at West Tamaki.
By 1859 Joseph May (1815-1890), later a deputy superintendent of the Auckland Province, owned the Epsom holding as part of a broader area he developed as Maytown. The subdivision provided sites for villas, cottage residences and market gardens centred on what later became known as Ranfurly Road. Until 1871, when the colonial government assumed more direct control in immigration matters, provincial governments were able to seek whatever settlers they desired for colonisation and after 1858 regulated the disposal of public land and used the land revenue. In 1864 the Auckland provincial government sent May to England to recruit immigrant workers.
Construction and initial use as Windermere (circa 1862-1865)
In early 1862 Henry Ellis (1828-1879) secured a substantial land parcel on the south side of Ranfurly Road with a frontage to Manukau Road. Described as a man of refinement and intelligence, Ellis was originally from Bundoran, County Donegal. Prior to setting up as a merchant and auctioneer in Auckland in circa 1854, he may have lived in Australia. Ellis had been raised in the Anglican faith, but underwent a religious conversion by the Wesleyan Reverend James Buller (1812-1884) shortly after arriving in the colonial capital.
Ellis evidently commissioned the construction of a large two-storey country house of Regency design, which was erected at an unknown date between 1862 and 1865. The dates of mortgage documents suggest that the dwelling, later described as one of a number of ‘good private houses’ built in Auckland during the 1860s, may have been under construction as early as October 1862, or in late 1864.
Initially known as Windermere, the timber building was erected on a property of almost two hectares. It was intended as a family home and held a large number of rooms. Ellis had married Georgina (nee Beamish) of Kilkernmore, County Cork in Auckland’s Wesleyan Chapel in 1855. By 1861 the Irish-born couple had at least one living child, a daughter.
Externally, the building had wide, return verandahs of double-storey height, and a shallow, hipped roof of imported slate. The house incorporated a basement built of Mt Eden bluestone, which accommodated a laundry, dairy, and coal and wood stores. Four chimney stacks served the ten main rooms. The residence had a simple and airy design, incorporating French doors and casements - a feature commonly associated with colonial Australian Regency architecture. These opened onto the large two-storey return verandah, which faced north and east.
Internally, the north-facing front entrance opened into a wide entrance hall which led to the staircase. The hall was intersected by a cross-passage that separated the reception rooms - a dining room, and a drawing room - from the kitchen, pantry and a servant’s bedroom on the south side of the house. On the upper floor were three bedrooms, two dressing rooms and a drawing room.
Windermere was constructed in the colonial capital during a period of economic buoyancy caused by a government loan financing the second New Zealand - or Waikato - War (1863-4). At a public meeting canvassing the establishment of a permanent rifle corps in 1863, Ellis advocated a comprehensive volunteer movement including a company of artillery and of cavalry. He subsequently became an officer of a northern cavalry troop in active service.
Auckland passed into a period of economic depression following the end of the Waikato campaign in 1864 which brought an end to liberal credit advances from trading banks and merchants. The transfer of the government administration to Wellington in 1865 resulted in the loss of further associated financial benefits. In these difficult times, Ellis unsuccessfully offered his spacious dwelling for auction in December of 1865.
At this time, the residence was described as a handsome mansion containing twelve rooms, with outhouses consisting of a stable, coachhouse, harness room, a cow shed and fowl yards. A well provided water throughout the summer months and the garden was well-stocked with shrubs, fruit trees and flowers.
In November 1867 the Ellis residence, referred to as Maytown and evidently occupying an expanded fenced property under cultivation, was the subject of a mortgagee sale.
Following his departure from Windermere, Ellis was elected to the Auckland Provincial Council in 1869. He edited the short-lived Auckland Daily News; is said to have worked as a journalist at the Daily Southern Cross; and in 1870 became a member of the executive committee of the Local Industry League.
Later work as an immigration agent led him to become involved in formation of George Vesey Stewart’s (1832-1920) Special Settlement at Katikati. The Ulster Plantation paralleled the 1850s arrival of Highlanders at Waipu via Nova Scotia and initially attracted 40 families of Protestant Irish farmers. Ellis was an immigration officer in Auckland during the Premiership of Julius Vogel who sought large numbers of settlers considered essential to the success of an extensive public works programme. He resigned as immigration officer in 1876 and was received into the Wesleyan Ministry in mid-life. Ellis died in 1879 aged 51, after three years in the itinerancy at Waimate and Woodend, in Canterbury.
Ongoing use as an elite family home
Windermere was purchased in late 1867 by Irish-born Catholic James O’Neill. O’Neill served as a member of the Auckland Provincial Council, was a member of the first Parliament of New Zealand and sat in the Upper House from 1869 until 1872.
In December 1869 prominent Auckland businessman and politician Thomas Henderson (1810-1886) became the resident owner. Henderson was a founder of Henderson and Macfarlane, a timber milling, warehousing and shipping firm with vessels plying the coastal and Pacific Island trades as the Circular Saw Line. He was also a founder of the New Zealand Insurance Company (1859) and the two dominant financial institutions in the nineteenth-century New Zealand economy - the Bank of New Zealand (1861) and the New Zealand Loan and Mercantile Agency (1865). A member of the Provincial Council and the General Assembly, Henderson sold his Ranfurly Road residence in 1878, the year he became a member of the Legislative Council in Wellington.
From 1878 until 1882 the house was briefly owned by Joseph Elam Pounds, who had arrived in New Zealand in late 1874 as the manager of the Auckland branch of the Union Bank of Australia. Pounds subsequently became involved in land speculation in the Upper Thames area and after working for Christchurch stock and station agent Dalgety and Company, returned to Australia. There he became the chairman of the ill-fated Centennial Land Bank formed to finance real estate speculation during the Victorian land boom which peaked around 1888. Pounds’ personal borrowings resulted in his bankruptcy by 1891 with debts of £140,000 on which he paid a half penny in the pound.
Marivare and late nineteenth-century alterations (1882-1894)
The Epsom residence was purchased by solicitor John Benjamin (J. B.) Russell (1834-1894) in September 1882, commencing the family’s seven-and-a-half-decade association with the property they named Marivare. Born in New South Wales, J. B. Russell was the third of five children of Irish immigrants. The family moved to Kororareka in 1840 and Auckland in 1841. In 1857 John Russell was articled to his elder brother Thomas Russell (1830-1904), an Auckland lawyer and arguably the outstanding commercial figure in nineteenth-century New Zealand. During the 1850s and 1860s when each of the four Russell brothers founded law practices that survive into the twenty-first century, lawyers held considerable influence in the community and were facilitators of business in colony. In November 1861 J. B. Russell married Mary Ann Nolan (1834-1931) who contributed much to his professional and social success. The firm established by J. B. Russell in 1863 became the modern Russell McVeigh.
J. B. Russell’s early clients included local bodies and commercial interests such as the Auckland Gas Company (1865), the Auckland City Council (1871) and the Auckland Harbour Board (1871). Practise in the colony’s major port on the international steam routes via Suez and San Francisco and the centre of a significant coastal, Tasman and South Sea trade also brought Russell major clients. These included the Circular Saw shipping line, the Dunedin-based Union Steam Ship Company Limited and merchants heavily involved in import-export trade. Constitutional innovations associated with the abolition of provincial government in the 1870s involved the transfer of powers to local bodies under new legislation that expanded the firm’s local government law expertise.
The Russells took possession of the Epsom property in February 1884 following extensive renovations. The family of nine took up residence after a world tour commenced in late 1884. In the interim, Marivare - an Australian name that may have been bestowed by Mary Anne Russell in memory of her earlier life at Bathurst - was leased to Mr J. E. MacDonald the Chief Judge of the Native Court. The Russells returned in 1886 to a weak economy following the collapse of the Auckland land market and many businesses. Russell’s social standing and wide circle of friends contributed to the success of Campbell and Russell which was one of the city’s largest law firms by the 1890s, although Russell also derived a substantial income from his personal investments.
Early in the Russells’ occupancy, banisters were evidently replaced at Marivare. The enclosure of an area of the upstairs verandah with glass (west end) may have occurred at this time or at an unknown date prior to 1902. Finely detailed decorative panels said to have been imported from England in 1882 were incorporated in a new drawing room ceiling. These may have been imitative of richly tooled leather panels evidenced in wealthy English houses of sixteenth and seventeenth-century date.
Circa 1884, a large ballroom with a sprung floor - and a wine cellar and photographic darkroom in the basement below - was added to the west of the house. In 1881, some years before the family moved to Epsom, Mary Anne had instituted a Friday ‘At Home’ that always culminated in a dance.
Reflecting an architectural eclecticism not uncommon in late Victorian colonial New Zealand, the exterior of the ballroom was influenced by a Victorian Tudor Revival architectural style popular for English country homes. Constructed in brick and finished with a cement plaster, the substantial addition protruded further to the south than the line of the 1860s Regency-style timber house and incorporated two west-facing bays with battlemented parapets and a steeply gabled roof. The northernmost of the two bays was a musicians’ gallery.
Ballrooms were a feature of a number of New Zealand’s larger residences as early as the 1870s and, as at nearby Rocklands Hall, were often constructed as an addition. Marivare’s ballroom had three fireplaces, two sitting alcoves - one of which was the musicians’ gallery with separate exterior access - and walls finished with an anaglypta frieze and a dado with decorative bas relief. The ballroom reflected the Russells’ social standing and love of entertaining, and the interests of a household with six daughters. A miniature landscape, the work of a female member of the Russell family or an associate, was painted on each of four door panels, all seven Russell children having been taught to paint and draw by Mrs Russell.
A conservatory, a popular feature in England in the 1860s, was built off the north end of the ballroom at an unknown date believed to be in the 1880s. Many opulent houses constructed in the colony between the 1879 and 1905 incorporated conservatories. Conservatories extended the range of exotic ornamental plants available and provided a discreet withdrawing place or a place for the serving of afternoon tea. They dwindled in popularity after the turn of the century as plant fashions changed in favour of more hardy outdoor varieties and as labour became scarce after 1914.
The grounds at Marivare incorporated a sweeping drive and fine trees. These reflected J. B. Russell’s long interest in landscape gardening and horticulture; and the rivalry of several of Epsom’s garden-conscious nineteenth-century professional gentlemen and merchants. The property was extensively replanted and landscaped with species including Spanish oaks grown from acorns collected by Russell while in California. He also reintroduced native trees into Marivare’s landscape. Three tennis courts and a croquet lawn provided an active focus to social life, while a small farm largely met household food needs other than for meat. Garden parties were given every summer and the grounds were sometimes the venue for charity fetes. Climbing species including roses were trained along Marivare’s verandahs.
In 1891, the lower floor of Marivare’s return verandah and the conservatory were tiled by the expert Giacond family from Italy. Russell suffered deteriorating health from 1892, and travelled to England for medical treatment where he died in February 1894.
Occupation of Marivare by J. B. Russell’s descendants (1896-1957)
In 1896 Marivare was sold to the Russells’ eldest daughter, Ada Mary Nolan Carr (1863-1936) and her husband Richard Anthony Carr (c.1856-1910). Carr was a general merchant dealing largely in Asian, Pacific Island and New Zealand produce and was also a director of the South British Fire and Marine Insurance Company. Following her husband’s death in 1910, Ada Carr subdivided the allotments adjoining Lot 10 occupied by Marivare. Mrs Carr, who was an original member of the Auckland branch of the Victoria League established in 1909, donated (subject to the preservation of the oak trees planted by J. B. Russell) land at the corner of Ranfurly and Manukau Roads in 1919 as a memorial to local soldiers who died in the First World War (1914-18). Ada Carr was evidently a gifted watercolour artist who exhibited her work in London and donated the proceeds to charities.
Marivare, described in 1918 valuation records as a wood and brick home of 14 rooms and a freestanding motor shed, was modified in 1923 when a portion of the dwelling was removed at a cost of £180. In 1936, the property was purchased by the Carrs’ elder son, Stanley who had served in Gallipoli and the Egyptian campaign. There was still a tennis court on the property in 1941-2, and in 1944 a timber addition designed by architect M. K. Draffin was constructed to accommodate a more modern kitchen.
Subsequent history (1957 - )
A five-lot subdivision was undertaken in 1957. Marivare now occupied a rear site and was sold ending the Russell family’s seventy five year association with the home.
Purchasers Graham and Mary Connell commenced their seven-year ownership by converting Marivare into eight apartments. This involved the removal of some interior joinery and wall linings which were stored. Although new partition walls divided the ballroom into three rooms and a passage, the existing layout of the house was largely retained along with internal fittings such as fireplaces, and finishes including the painted scenes on ballroom door panels. The ballroom and conservatory became the owners’ flat, served by a bathroom developed in an adjoining room. The rest of the ground floor consisted of three bedrooms, a bathroom, a kitchen and a kitchen dining area.
On the first floor were four bedrooms, men’s and women’s bathrooms, and two kitchens each with two stoves. Partition walls and a further window were introduced in the southwest room to form the two bathrooms.
The overall impact of the conversion to flats was limited. Additional kitchen and bathroom facilities were fitted into existing spaces which avoided the need to take out walls. Comparatively little material was removed, enabling the survival of features such as nineteenth-century tiling in the scullery and stove recess. Externally the building retained its earlier appearance. In 1965, Ranfurly Apartments Limited bought the property.
Antique dealer David Brown commenced a seventeen-year association with Marivare in 1978. During this period the conservatory was restored and the ballroom was re-roofed. Removal of the glassed-in portion of the upper verandah at an unknown time after the 1960s-70s may also have occurred during his ownership. By 1984 Marivare had fourteen occupants.
Purchased by new owners in 1995, Marivare again reverted to a single residence. The internal alterations linked with conversion to flats were carefully reversed to recover the building’s nineteenth- and early twentieth-century features and finishes, including an anaglyptic frieze and joinery with early paintwork in the ballroom. The mid twentieth-century kitchen was updated. A nineteenth-century Shacklock range was fitted into the former cooking alcove of the earlier kitchen. The former scullery in the stair space was converted to a bathroom that retained surviving nineteenth-century white tiled walls. Stored joinery mouldings are currently being reinstated (2010) in the ballroom, the only room that remains to be restored. The property remains in use as a private residence.
Marivare is situated on a rear site on the south side of Ranfurly Road, Epsom, an inner suburb of Auckland. Located to the southeast of Auckland’s main city centre, Epsom is largely a residential area in which a number of recognised historic houses are located. Ranfurly Road is a suburban street running east-west between Manukau Road and Gillies Avenue. The street has a number of nineteenth and early twentieth century houses. The housing stock in the immediate vicinity of Marivare is of mixed age and includes residential unit developments and new dwellings.
Marivare is one of a number of significant nineteenth-century gentlemanly estate houses that survive in the wider Epsom area. These include Highwic (Record no.18, Category I historic place); Clifton (Record no. 2623, Category I historic place); Rocklands Hall (Record no. 7276, Category I historic place); William Aitken’s former residence, Rockwood; St John’s Wood, the former Hesketh home now part of Diocesan School for Girls; and Prospect on Mount St John (Record no. 527, Category II historic place). Other important places in the near vicinity of Marivare include the John Logan Campbell Monument unveiled in 1906 (Record no. 4478, Category I) and the former Epsom Post Office dating from 1909 on Manukau Road. At the corner of Ranfurly and Manukau Roads is the Marivare Reserve (formerly part of Marivare’s grounds), the location of seven Spanish oak trees over a century old and a War Memorial arch (1921).
Surviving components of the nineteenth-century historical landscape in wider south Epsom include the Costley Home for the Aged Poor within the Green Lane Hospital campus; and Acacia Cottage in Cornwall Park (Record no. 525, Category I historic place), a structure known for strong associations with John Logan Campbell. Cornwall Park and the One Tree Hill Domain also contain the remains of the extensive pa at Maungakiekie (One Tree Hill).
The site consists of an irregular-shaped, pan-handle section of 1526 square metres accessed via a right of way from Ranfurly Road. The land has a cross-fall from west to east and a more pronounced slope from north to south. The property is not visible from Ranfurly Road.
The two-and-a-half-storey dwelling occupies a level terrace and is the only building on the site. The front access extends along the north side of the property to a set of broad, shallow steps at the centrally-located front entrance. In the lawn to the west is a plum tree of considerable age. A formal lawn to the east of the house has a stone retaining wall and a short flight of steps descending to an informal driveway. A large totara of considerable age located in the lawn near the steps may have been planted by J. B. Russell. Outbuildings of unknown date and a water well were formerly located within a grassed area to the southwest of the house.
The residence is irregular in plan. It consists of an 1860s timber house of almost rectangular footprint; an 1880s concrete and rendered brick addition and attached conservatory; and, a mid twentieth-century kitchen addition of timber construction at right angles to the rear of the original house.
Marivare has an extremely well-preserved nineteenth-century exterior incorporating a timber Regency-style east section; and a substantial Tudor Revival-influenced plastered brick addition to the west with a north-facing conservatory. Viewed from the east and north, the original house is two-storeyed with a return verandah on both floors; and has a cement plastered single-storey addition with an attached conservatory. Both sections have a full-height partial basement that gives the house a height of two to three storeys at the rear. The mid twentieth-century kitchen addition is not incongruous. The structure retains its chimneys; the original 1860s slate roof; nineteenth-century verandahs and tiling, front entrance steps; and its original door and window openings.
Timber construction (circa 1862-5 and 1944 addition)
The circa 1862-5 portion of the residence is Regency in style and of timber construction. It has weatherboard cladding and a slate-covered, hipped roof with a centre gutter and several chimneys. The house effectively has a double front, the north and east facades originally visible from Ranfurly and Manukau Roads respectively. Rusticated weatherboarding on the lower storey and wide butted boards on the upper storey are sheltered by a return two-storey verandah. The verandah is supported on chamfered posts and has simple timber fretwork and open timber railings incorporating a cross and rectangle motif. The timber fretwork and railings, visible in an undated photograph taken prior to 1894 are believed to be an original feature or may date from the 1880s. The verandah railings are of a style popular for Victorian-era timber residences in Auckland and are similar to those of the Russells’ first house purchased in upper Queen Street in 1864.
The tessellated terracotta ground floors of the verandah and conservatory evidently date from 1891. The front entrance steps incorporating tiling and curved, plaster-finished wing walls with plinths are also a surviving nineteenth-century feature.
The main entrance is centrally located in the north façade. This and a corresponding doorway on the upper floor onto the verandah occupy shallow breakfronts reminiscent of the simple classical Georgian style of the eighteenth-century.
Notable Regency features evident in Marivare’s design are the rectangular shape of the 1860s structure; the symmetrical north façade; margin-glazing in windows and doors; door cases incorporating side and fan lights; French windows and casements; a six-pane double hung sash window with side lights; verandah with a slightly drooping roof; and the slate roof broken by chimneys with moulded tops. Marivare’s numerous French windows opening from the main rooms onto the upper and lower verandahs are synonymous with colonial Australasian Regency architecture.
The south (rear) elevation is effectively three storeys high including the basement and has plain weatherboards and a variety of predominantly sash windows. The 1940s kitchen addition has a pentice roof sheathed in corrugated metal. A covered, timber stairway located between the kitchen and the ballroom additions provides rear access to the upper ground floor.
Brick and concrete addition (circa 1884); conservatory addition (1880s)
Off the west end of the north verandah is a small well preserved late nineteenth-century conservatory with a mansard roof on the north side. The lower portion of the external walls is of concrete construction with a row of top-hinged glass casements above. The conservatory is believed to be an early surviving example in an Auckland context and has glass panes divided by timber glazing bars.
Beyond the conservatory is a former ballroom, a feature traditionally associated with the large residences of the colonial elite. The circa 1884 rendered brick structure is of a Victorian Tudor Revival architectural style and represents a significant addition to the 1860s Regency-style timber house. The structure has a corrugated metal roof and stands on concrete perimeter foundation walls. The exterior walls have ashlar markings in places, a possible reference to stone - the favoured construction material for Victorian Tudor Revival style English country homes. The design incorporates battlemented parapets however the main roof has a plain parapeted gable at either end. Some window openings have segmental heads. A steel-framed window unit indicates the former location of the musicians’ alcove.
The house retains an unusually high amount of its nineteenth-century interior, including most of its early layout. Significant aspects of finish and décor also survive. A strong patina of age remains. The nineteenth-century interior can be considered to be outstandingly well-preserved.
Internally the structure currently contains six downstairs rooms and seven rooms at first floor level. The downstairs area incorporates a large hall, extending south from the front door to the staircase. Near the foot of the staircase two narrower halls run off at right angles.
Two large front rooms, one either side of the front entrance hall, are used as a living room and a dining room. The hall to the left connects to a second ‘front door’ from the east verandah and also provides access to a south bedroom (former housekeeper’s accommodation). The hall to the right provides access to a lobby off which is a family room and a bathroom (original kitchen and scullery - the latter under the staircase), and the kitchen addition (1944). The back lobby opens onto an external covered stair. At the west end of the hall is a spacious studio (former ballroom).
The front entrance, the window above the stair landing, and the east entrance have turquoise and orange glass of 1860s date. Some upper panes have rounded heads. The ceiling in the front entrance hall has a rectangular grid pattern of round-profiled mouldings and protruding circular joining pieces. The ceilings of the rear hall and upper stair hall are lined with scrim and paper.
Notable features of the drawing room off the front entrance hall include an east-facing bay; an early brick fireplace; and plain skirting boards. The east bay has a paint finish of considerable age; French doors; and Art Nouveaux-style lead-light windows. As in many other areas of the house, the floorboards retain their Victoria-era finish and the walls have picture rails.
The drawing room ceiling has batten mouldings. The ceiling incorporates panels, said to have been imported from England in 1882, which have impressed patterning. The linoleum-like material is also found on several of the fire surrounds elsewhere in the house. To date the material is believed to be a rare known example in an Auckland context. The product may resemble ornamented sheet panelling patented by Charles Frederick Bielefeld (b.1826) in 1851. An improved form of papier mâché that could be finished like highly polished marble, the Middlesex-manufactured ‘fibrous slab’ or ‘patent wood’ was a compressed material which used rags (rather than rag paper) as a raw material and included resin, boiled linseed oil and lead monoxide in the binding mix.
Notable features of the dining room are a black marble fireplace with an ornate cast iron fire register. The ceiling has timber battens. In addition to two pairs of French doors, there is a side door onto the verandah connecting to conservatory close by.
The former bedroom on the south side of the house has a tall but simple fire surround with a built-in wardrobe alongside, both of which appear to be original features. Through a connecting door, the former scullery and the coal range alcove in the former kitchen have white tiles of circa nineteenth-century date.
The ballroom at the west end of the house has a patina of age and retains significant remnants of nineteenth century wall linings, joinery and painted finishes. It has narrow floorboards and three complete fireplaces each of a different style. The space does not currently have a ceiling. Sections of wall linings and joinery, removed during the 1950s conversion to flats, are being reinstated from materials stored in the basement at that time. Surviving paint finish on cornices and an embossed frieze, and wall paper on scrim suggest the early colour scheme was a deep cream, blue and white. A remnant of embossed dado divided horizontally into three by timber mouldings has depictions of birds and flora on the deepest (lower level); a frieze with spiders and insects including beetles and dragonflies; and a narrower upper border of fruiting vines. Patterned panels frame two bay windows in a sitting alcove. The lower panel of the two pairs of French doors to the conservatory each has a hand-painted landscape believed to date from the late nineteenth century.
The staircase from the central hall is of a Regency open string style with balusters resting on the stair treads. The seven rooms on the upper floor are currently four bedrooms, a bathroom, a computer room, and a centrally-located access room onto the front verandah. In the latter room are what appear to be two nineteenth-century cupboards. The layout of the board and batten ceiling raises the possibility of former closeting along the west wall.
A small bedroom at the southwest corner has a fireplace, tongued and grooved timber lining and a board and batten ceiling, and may have served as a bathroom for much of the twentieth century. The northwest bedroom and the large northeast bedroom (the latter originally an upstairs drawing room) also have fireplaces. That in the former upstairs drawing room comprises an iron register of similar ornate design to the dining room fireplace. An east-facing sash window with side lights is evidently of an early design before the incorporation of sash-cords and weights. At the southeast corner are a small bedroom and a bathroom (former bedroom). Off the west end of the hall is a small study.
Not all areas of the basement were inspected. The area below the ballroom has a rudimentary concrete fireplace against the south wall. The location of the former wine cellar and photographic dark room under the ballroom was not specifically identified, nor was the location of the former laundry and dairy. Tall timber piles and scoria rubble walls are a notable feature of the space under the original house. A laundry and toilet were not inspected.
1882 - 1884
Renovations including replacement of drawing room ceiling; front entrance ceiling; banisters (possibly those on the verandah).
1880 - 1889
Ballroom and basement, rendered brick construction; conservatory
Ground floor return verandah tiled
Part of upstairs verandah in west portion of house enclosed; Demolition of musicians’ gallery in ballroom.
New kitchen (timber construction)
Conversion to eight flats
Removal of glassed-in part of upstairs verandah
Conservatory restored; ballroom re-roofed
Reinstatement as family home; provision of new bathroom facilities, kitchen (1944) modernised
1862 - 1865
Two-storey timber residence with slate roof.
Timber piles, scoria rubble foundation walls, timber construction and weatherboard cladding, slate roof, (1860s residence)
Concrete foundation walls, rendered brick construction, corrugated metal roof (1880s addition); Timber construction, corrugated metal roof (1944 addition).
19th August 2010
Report Written By
Cyclopedia of New Zealand, 1902
Cyclopedia Company, Industrial, descriptive, historical, biographical facts, figures, illustrations, Wellington, N.Z, 1897-1908, Vol.2, Christchurch, 1902
R. C. J. Stone, The Making of Russell McVeigh: The First 125 Years of the Practice of Russell McVeigh McKenzie Bartleet & Co. 1863-1988, Auckland, 1991
T. Hodgson, The Big House: Grand & Opulent Houses In Colonial New Zealand, Random, Auckland, 1991
Rev. William Morley, The History of Methodism in New Zealand, Wellington, 1900
Una Platts, The Lively Capital: Auckland 1840-1865, Christchurch, 1971
John Stacpoole, Colonial Architecture in New Zealand, Wellington, 1976
R. C. J. Stone, Makers of Fortune: A Colonial Business Community and its Fall, Auckland, 1973
G.W.A Bush, (ed.), The History of Epsom, Auckland, 2006
W. D. Borrie, Immigration to New Zealand 1854-1938, Canberra, 1991
Bee Dawson, A History of Gardening in New Zealand, Auckland, 2010
John Field & John Stacpoole, Victorian Auckland, Auckland, 1973
John Stacpoole, The Houses of the Merchant Princes, Auckland, 1989
A fully referenced registration report is available from the NZHPT Northern Region Office.
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.