Rolleston House

2 Gloucester Street And Rolleston Avenue, Christchurch

  • Rolleston House.
    Copyright: NZ Historic Places Trust. Taken By: B Carr. Date: 14/02/2011.
  • Rolleston House.
    Copyright: NZ Historic Places Trust. Taken By: B Carr. Date: 14/02/2011.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 2 Public Access Private/No Public Access
List Number 3729 Date Entered 6th September 1984


Extent of List Entry

Extent includes the land described as Pt Sec 365 Town of Christchurch (CT CB15F/1131), Canterbury Land District, and the building known as Rolleston House, thereon.

City/District Council

Christchurch City


Canterbury Region

Legal description

Pt Sec 365 Town of Christchurch (CT CB15F/1131), Canterbury Land District


Constructed in the 1890s as a two storeyed timber gentlemen’s residence, the building known as Rolleston House on the corner of 2 Gloucester Street and Rolleston Avenue, Christchurch, has architectural significance as an example of the English Domestic Revival Style and has historical and social significance as one of the buildings that comprised Canterbury College’s first male hostel.

The block of land between Antigua Street (now Rolleston Avenue), Gloucester Street, Worcester Street and Montreal Street and was granted by the Crown to Church Property Trustees in 1856, and in 1873 Reverend John Raven became the owner of this block. After Raven’s death in 1886 the sections were sold and further divided. In 1893 the north-west corner sections were purchased by Jessie Helen Bennett, wife of Arthur William Bennett. It is thought that this is when the house was built.

Surrounded by mature trees and a north- and west-fronting timber fence, Rolleston House is a typical late Victorian townhouse, with English Domestic Revival detailing, including half-timbering and overhangs in the gable ends. The fenestration is varied, including bay windows on the ground floor and single and paired sash windows on the first floor. The roof is corrugated steel. When the Bennetts put the house up for sale in September 1916, it was described as containing ‘10 spacious living rooms, also large hall, pantry, store-room, lavatories, cellar, bathroom, wide verandahs facing east, north and west …’.

The Bennetts lived at the corner house for over two decades. In 1914 A W Bennett was appointed Manager of the New Zealand Shipping Company and the following year the Bennetts shifted to Cashmere Hills. It appears that the Bennetts then let out the central city house, and Supreme Court Judge, John Denniston lived there for a year or two. In 1917 the Bennetts sold their ‘splendid two storied residence’ to engineer, Francis Oakley Shacklock. In 1919 Shacklock sold to the university, Canterbury College, where it was House Number 4 as part of a cluster of buildings collectively named Rolleston House and used as a hostel for male students. The Rolleston House hostel, named to honour the former superintendent of Canterbury who encouraged the university’s establishment, was run by a committee of students approved by the College. When the University of Canterbury relocated to a new campus at Ilam in the mid 1970s, Rolleston House was purchased by Christ’s College. It was initially converted into a flat, classrooms and the Clothing Pool and since 1983 this building has served Christ’s College as a day boy house, Rolleston House.


Construction Professionalsopen/close

Collins & Harman

One of the two oldest architectural firms in New Zealand, Armson, Collins and Harman was established by William Barnett Armson in 1870. After serving his articles with Armson, John James Collins (1855-1933) bought the practice after the former's death in 1883 and subsequently took Richard Dacre Harman (1859-1927) into partnership four years later. Collins' son, John Goddard Collins (1886-1973), joined the firm in 1903. Armson, Collins and Harman was one of Christchurch's leading architectural practices in the early years of this century.

Notable examples of the firm's work include the Christchurch Press Building (1909), Nazareth House (1909), the former Canterbury College Students Union (1927), the Nurses Memorial Chapel at Christchurch Public Hospital (1927) and the Sign of the Takahe (1936). Their domestic work includes Blue Cliffs Station Homestead (1889) and Meadowbank Homestead, Irwell. In 1928 the firm's name was simplified to Collins and Harman and the firm continues today as Collins Architects Ltd.

With a versatility and competence that betrayed the practice's debt to Armson's skill and professionalism, Collins and Harman designed a wide variety of building types in a range of styles.

Additional informationopen/close

Construction Dates

Completion Date

15th March 2017

Report Written By

Robyn Burgess

Information Sources

Hamilton, 1991 (2)

D Hamilton, Wells, R. The Buildings of Christ's College 1850-1990 Christchurch, 1991.

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 Southern Region Office of Heritage New Zealand.