St Paul’s Manse (Former)

24 Reed Street, Oamaru

  • St Paul’s Manse (Former), 24 Reed St, Oamaru.
    Copyright: Oamaru Creek B & B. Taken By: Oamaru Creek B & B.
  • St Paul’s Manse (Former), 24 Reed St, Oamaru.
    Copyright: Oamaru Creek B & B. Taken By: Oamaru Creek B & B.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 2 Public Access Private/No Public Access
List Number 3221 Date Entered 2nd July 1982


Extent of List Entry

Extent includes the land described as Sec 6 and Pt Sec 7 Blk XLIII Town of Oamaru (CT OT226/40), Otago Land District, and the building known as St Paul’s Manse (Former), thereon. The List entry does not include the garage to the north of the manse.

City/District Council

Waitaki District


Otago Region

Legal description

Sec 6 and Pt Sec 7 Blk XLIII Town of Oamaru (CT OT226/40), Otago Land District.


This substantial two-storey timber residence was built in 1901 as the third manse for the St Paul’s Presbyterian Church and was later home to a private maternity hospital. St Paul’s Manse (Former) has historical and architectural significance; designed by Oamaru architect John Megget Forrester, it stands as a reminder of the significance of the Presbyterian Church in early twentieth century Oamaru and of the life of the incumbent minister.

The previous manse, built in 1871, was situated on Humber Street – an inconvenient, noisy, and smoky location close to the main trunk line. In 1899, a new site was needed when the church managers accepted an offer from a businessman to buy the manse and grounds. A building committee was appointed and one of their first tasks was to consider James Meikle’s offer to sell his house and five sections for £350. After several other offers and a reorganising of the committee, the church purchased Meikle’s property at a price of £360. Architect John Megget Forrester was invited to prepare plans for a two storey wooden dwelling. Forrester called for tenders in October 1900.

The plan shows a large residence. The ground floor contained a dining room, drawing room bedroom, kitchen, scullery, pantry, hall, stair and a passage. The ground floor had a large verandah, a covered back porch, as well as a wash house and coal shed. The first floor had five bedrooms, a study, a bathroom, linen closet and a north facing balcony. There were fire places in most rooms. Builder James Sinclair’s tender of £1048 was accepted. Sinclair began work around October 1900. A further tender was accepted for erecting a corrugated iron fence to Reed Street.

Reverend Robert Porter and his family moved in to the manse in 1901. Porter’s health declined in 1914 and he resigned in January 1915. The next minister was Reverend Dr Samuel Hunter who lived there until 1924. Reverend Ivo Bertram was inducted to St Paul’s in February 1924. When Bertram resigned in 1927, the church managers decided to build another manse. The manse was sold to Oamaru jeweller Edward Mills.

Six years later sisters Robina and Elizabeth (and later their sister Jessica) Symington purchased the house and after significant additions and alterations opened their Glen Mavis Maternity Hospital in 1934. They altered the house to make it suitable for hospital activities – they closed in the balcony, put in a fire escape, built two toilets and a sluice room on the landing, converted the southernmost back bedroom into a delivery room, and built a detached room on the southern side to house staff. After the Symington era, Glen Mavis was leased for two years by the Waitaki Hospital Board pending the construction of a maternity ward attached to the hospital. Glen Mavis closed as a maternity home in October 1946.

Jessie Symington and her niece (and children) returned to Glen Mavis in 1946. The house was run as a bed and breakfast for several years and then partly converted into flats. Following Jessie's death, her niece Margaret Anderson remained at Glen Mavis until December 1971. Owners in the 1980s converted the building back to a single residence. In later years, the former manse has been home to Oamaru Creek Bed and Breakfast. In 2015, the house still provides accommodation as Oamaru Creek Bed and Breakfast.


Construction Professionalsopen/close

Forrester, John Meggett

John Meggett Forrester (1866-1965) grew up in Oamaru where his father Thomas Forrester (1838-1907) was practising as an architect. Having been educated at Oamaru Grammar School, he entered the architectural profession and in 1890 took over his father's practice, Forrester and Lemon, following the death of John Lemon (1828-90).

He was responsible for the Oamaru Opera House (1907), the Borough Council building, the World War I Memorial and the Waitaki Boys High School Hall of Memories, all in Oamaru. In 1919 he was joined in partnership by Ivan Steenson and he retired in 1931.

Forrester was prominent in Oamaru public life. He was a Justice of the Peace for many years, an Oamaru Borough Councillor (1913-33) and Mayor of Oamaru (1931-33). When he died in 1965 he left a bequest for the establishment of an Art Gallery in North Otago. The Forrester Gallery was opened in 1983 in the former Bank of New South Wales building.

Sinclair, James

No biography is currently available for this construction professional

Additional informationopen/close

Construction Dates

Original Construction
1901 -

1934 -
Converted to Glen Mavis Maternity Hospital

Converted to flats

Exterior stuccoed

Converted back to a single residence

Completion Date

3rd December 2015

Report Written By

Heather Bauchop

Information Sources

Laney, 2000

H .M. Laney, Oamaru Maternity Homes, (folder, Oamaru, 2000). North Otago Museum Archive, 4074/126c

McDonald, 1963

K C McDonald, The Way We Came: A Centennial History of St Paul's Presbyterian Church, Oamaru , Oamaru Mail Company, Oamaru, 1963

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 Otago/Southland Office of Heritage New Zealand