2 Whisby Road, Cashmere, Christchurch

  • House.
    Copyright: NZ Historic Places Trust. Taken By: Melanie Lovell-Smith. Date: 1/02/2002.
  • .
    Copyright: NZ Historic Places Trust. Taken By: Melanie Lovell-Smith. Date: 1/02/2002.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 1 Public Access Private/No Public Access
List Number 3674 Date Entered 2nd April 1985


City/District Council

Christchurch City


Canterbury Region

Legal description

Lot 30 Pt 1 DP 2668 Pt Lot 1 DP 8230


This timber cottage was built between 1898 and 1900 and was designed for Professor John Macmillan Brown (1845-1935). Macmillan Brown was the first professor of English and Classics at Canterbury College (later the University of Canterbury), and one of the three founding professors. From 1916 to 1923 he was the vice-chancellor of the University of New Zealand, and chancellor from 1923 until his death in 1935. He married one of his former students, the first woman to graduate with honours in the British Empire, Helen Connon. Connon was headmistress of Christchurch Girls' High School for eleven years. When land in the Port Hills was subdivided, Macmillan Brown bought just over nine acres so that his family could spend winters in the hills, rather than on the damp Christchurch flat.

The Macmillan Browns asked their brother-in-law, Samuel Hurst Seager, to design the house for their new property. (Seager had married Helen's sister Hester in 1887.) The cottage Seager designed was a forerunner of a group of buildings he later produced on Clifton Terrace in Sumner and an early demonstration of his interest in the development of an indigenous architecture. The Macmillan Brown house has an unusual method of construction, similar to the construction of a log cabin; single skin walls are formed from interlocking 2" x 4" (approximately 50mm x100m) boards which project at each corner to form a buttress-like effect. It was sited to receive the benefits of fresh air and light, and inside the unlined timber boards give a relaxed feel to the house.

This house is significant as an early cottage designed by Seager which demonstrates his concern to develop a New Zealand architecture. It has been identified as one of the earliest bungalows in New Zealand and represents a significant point in Seager's architectural career. The Macmillan Brown cottage is also important for its innovative construction. Historically it is significant for its association with the Macmillan Browns.


Construction Professionalsopen/close

Seager, Samuel Hurst

Seager (1855-1933) studied at Canterbury College between 1880-82. He trained in Christchurch in the offices of Benjamin Woolfield Mountfort (1825-1898) and Alfred William Simpson before completing his qualifications in London in 1884. In 1885, shortly after his return to Christchurch, he won a competition for the design of the new Municipal Chambers, and this launched his career.

Seager achieved renown for his domestic architecture. He was one of the earliest New Zealand architects to move away from historical styles and seek design with a New Zealand character. The Sign of the Kiwi, Christchurch (1917) illustrates this aspect of his work. He is also known for his larger Arts and Crafts style houses such as Daresbury, Christchurch (1899).

Between 1893 and 1903 Seager taught architecture and design at the Canterbury University College School of Art. He was a pioneer in town planning, having a particular interest in the "garden city" concept. Some of these ideas were expressed in a group of houses designed as a unified and landscaped precinct on Sumner Spur (1902-14). He became an authority on the lighting of art galleries. After World War I he was appointed by the Imperial War Graves Commission to design war memorials in Gallipoli, Belgium and France. In New Zealand he designed the Massey Memorial, Point Halswell, Wellington (1925).

Additional informationopen/close

Construction Dates

1898 -

Original Construction
1898 - 1900

Room added to northwest corner; living room window pushed out to form a bay; kitchen extended

Completion Date

30th August 2001

Report Written By

Melanie Lovell-Smith

Information Sources

Shaw, 1997 (2003)

Peter Shaw, A History of New Zealand Architecture, Auckland, 1997

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.