Dawson House and Doctor's Surgery (Former)

28 Julia Street, Pahiatua

  • Dawson House and Doctor’s Surgery (Former), Pahiatua. Image courtesy of www.flickr.com.
    Copyright: Paul Le Roy . Taken By: Paul Le Roy – Minicooperd. Date: 29/12/2018.
  • Dawson House and Doctor’s Surgery (Former), Pahiatua.
    Copyright: Heritage New Zealand. Taken By: Karen Astwood. Date: 10/08/2010.
  • Dawson House and Doctor’s Surgery (Former), Pahiatua. View of house from the north.
    Copyright: Heritage New Zealand. Taken By: Karen Astwood. Date: 10/08/2010.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 2 Public Access Private/No Public Access
List Number 4020 Date Entered 15th April 2011


Extent of List Entry

Extent includes the land described as Lot 2 DP 35056 (CT WN12A/942), and Pt Lot 29 and Pt Lot 31 DP 326 (CT WN391/79), Wellington Land District, and the buildings known as Dawson House and Doctor's Surgery (Former) thereon, and their fittings and fixtures. The extent includes the main house as well as the former chauffeur's quarters and garage building. The extent does not include the late twentieth century multi-car garage building to the rear of the property. (Refer to map in Appendix 1 of the registration report for further information)

City/District Council

Tararua District


Horizons (Manawatu-Wanganui) Region

Legal description

Lot 2 DP 35056 (CT WN12A/942); Pt Lot 29 and Pt Lot 31 DP 326 (CT WN391/79), Wellington Land District

Location description

When entering Pahiatua from the north along Main Street, turn into the second street on the northwest side of the road, Dawson Street. Julia Street is the first street which intersects with Dawson Street, and Dawson House and Doctor’s Surgery (Former) is in the southwest block on the west side of the street.


Built in the Tararua town of Pahiatua between 1928 and 1929 to a design by locally renowned architect Reginald Thorrold-Jaggard (1889-1960), Dawson House and Doctor’s Surgery (Former) consists of a large brick English Cottage Style main building and separate chauffeur’s quarters, and was constructed as the residence and work place of one of the town’s most respected early citizens, Dr Henry Thomas Dawson (1868-1938).

European settlement in the Wairarapa was gradual and began from the south after lengthy negotiations between the Crown and iwi in the early 1850s. However, it was not until the 1870s with the government public works and immigration scheme that Europeans began to occupy the north Wairarapa in earnest. A young medical practitioner and recent immigrant, Dr Dawson settled in Pahiatua in 1892 and quickly established himself in a solo private practice in this district where his services were in demand by the growing population. Dr Dawson was like most of his colleagues in small towns throughout New Zealand in that he trained overseas, was required to be skilled in all general aspects of medicine including surgery, and frequently had to travel some distance to see patients. At the turn of the twentieth century Dr Dawson wed Gwendoline Meredith, who was from an early and respected Masterton family, began amassing land on the corner of Dawson and Julia Streets, and became the Medical Supervisor of the newly established area public hospital, a position he held until one month before his death. In 1928 the Dawsons approached Thorrold-Jaggard to design a large residence replete with medical surgery as well as facilities for their staff, which included a chauffeur. After her husband’s death in 1938, Mrs Dawson continued to live in their house for several decades. In the late twentieth century the dual residential and business function of the main building was reinstated by two consecutive owners who were funeral directors, one of whom was also the mayor.

Thorrold-Jaggard’s domestic English Cottage Style buildings seem to have been popular regionally during the 1920s and 1930s. This style nostalgically referenced Elizabethan and Tudor architecture, and typical aspects present at Dawson House and Doctor’s Surgery (Former) include a dynamic interplay of gables and dormers, deep eaves, a jettied upper level further distinguished from the lower level by different cladding, as well as leadlight windows and a striking staircase with large gallery landing. There have been few alterations to Dawson House and Doctor’s Surgery (Former) aside from a laundry and conservatory addition to the main building and those associated with the early twenty-first century change of function of the former chauffeur’s quarters and garage.

Dawson House and Doctor’s Surgery (Former) is a place of outstanding significance because it is an impressive representative example of English Cottage Style architecture, which was a particular specialty of Thorrold-Jaggard in the 1920s and 1930s and one for which he was well-known regionally. The dual function of the main building and its association with Dr Dawson, who was among the wealthiest and most respected of Pahiatua’s residents due to his almost 50 year medical career in the town, adds further historical and social value to this place.

Assessment criteriaopen/close

Historical Significance or Value

This house with integrated doctor’s surgery built for Dr Henry Thomas Dawson has considerable local historical value as the residence and workplace of one of the Pahiatua district’s most important individuals during a period of almost 50 years from the late nineteenth century. Dawson, who had trained overseas, was the longest standing of Pahiatua’s earliest medical practitioners, and typical of small town and rural doctors in New Zealand from the late nineteenth century and into the twentieth century. Doctoring at this time has been described as a vocation and Dawson demonstrated his commitment to the health of local people by ministering to them through his solo private practice, but also through health initiatives that he was intimately involved with, such as the establishment and running of the district’s first public hospital from its foundation until 1938 when he died.

The scale and design of Dawson House and Doctor’s Surgery (Former) is representative of the wealth and respect within communities that small town doctors in particular generally amassed in this period before the introduction of New Zealand’s social security system and mid-twentieth century philosophical and regulatory changes in the medical field. The prosperity acquired by late nineteenth and early twentieth century doctors is both reflective of the demand for their important services within their communities, and the difficult working conditions and circumstances that were part and parcel of their profession. The provision for a doctor’s surgery and on-site chauffeur to expedite house-calls at Dawson House and Doctor’s Surgery (Former) is indicative of the nature of medical practice during this period, and is therefore of historical value as a remnant of the way medical practices were predominantly operated.

This building also has local historical significance because of its association with people other than Dr Dawson. Indeed, Mrs Gwendoline Dawson was from a large and well respected early Wairarapa family, the Merediths, and she continued to live in the house for several decades after her husband’s death. Later, the property also became the residential and business base of funeral director and mayor Chester Burt. Therefore, Dawson House and Doctor’s Surgery (Former) has local historical value as the home and workplace of several of Pahiatua’s prominent twentieth century citizens.

Aesthetic Significance or Value:

The scale of Dawson House and Doctor’s Surgery (Former) in comparison to its surrounding buildings means it has a significant presence within its streetscape. However, the building has added aesthetic value because of the dynamic arrangement of its roof gables, an interesting feature which draws the attention of the viewer. Once engaged in this fashion the English Cottage Style decorative features and detailing create a charming impression. A pleasing feature of the interior of the main building is the pervasiveness of natural light which, when combined with the breadth of high specification decorative touches, produces an elegant and welcoming effect.

Architectural Significance or Value:

English Cottage Style was a preferred domestic architectural type amongst relatively wealthy New Zealanders during the 1920s and 1930s, and one which Manawatu architect Reginald Thorrold-Jaggard was particularly adept at and popular for locally. Therefore, Thorrold-Jaggard’s Dawson House and Doctor’s Surgery (Former) has considerable architectural significance as an excellently preserved representative example of English Cottage Style architecture. The nostalgic ‘Englishness’ derived from Elizabethan and Tudor references at Dawson House and Doctor’s Surgery (Former) is elucidated through the interplay of its gables and dormers, their deep eaves and decorative features, as well as its jettied upper level. Other characteristic English Cottage Style elements which contribute to this building’s architectural importance are a striking staircase and spacious upper landing gallery complete with light well, and details such as individualised plastered ceilings in the family bedrooms. Therefore, Dawson House and Doctor’s Surgery (Former) has architectural value as an exemplar of the comfortable affluence typical of the English Cottage Style.

Social Significance or Value:

Prior to the mid to late twentieth century changes in the organisation of health services in New Zealand, local doctors operating solo private medical practices out of their homes were often the first, or the only, port of call for people in small towns and rural areas when experiencing medical problems or emergencies. This was the reason why Dr Dawson was an important person in his local community and by association his surgery located for the last decade of his career in Dawson House and Doctor’s Surgery (Former) has social significance.

(a) The extent to which the place reflects important or representative aspects of New Zealand history

Dawson House and Doctor’s Surgery (Former), with its dual residential and doctor’s surgery functions and transport related facilities, is a remnant of the way which New Zealand’s health services were principally delivered in the century or so after European settlement began. Local medical practitioners, particularly those working in small towns and rural districts like Dr Dawson did, were an integral part of their communities, either working in isolation or with only a few other colleagues as the local population grew.

(b) The association of the place with events, persons, or ideas of importance in New Zealand history

Reginald Thorrold-Jaggard was a prominent architect in the Manawatu during the inter-war period of the twentieth century, completing many residential and commercial buildings locally, and sporadically throughout the lower North Island, in a variety of styles over the course of his career. As a popularist architect his work is important because it documents the most fashionable architectural styles in New Zealand during this era in a manner which demonstrated Thorrold-Jaggard’s accomplishment as an architect, and his understanding of each style and architecture in general.

(g) The technical accomplishment or value, or design of the place

The form, materials, and features of Dawson House and Doctor’s Surgery (Former) demonstrate design fidelity to the precepts of the English Cottage Style in New Zealand. This building is a confident expression of this architectural style and therefore Dawson House and Doctor’s Surgery (Former) is of value as an accomplishment in this form of design.

Summary of Significance or Values

This place was assessed against, and found to qualify under the following criteria: a, b, and g.


It is considered that this place qualifies as a Category II historic place.


Construction Professionalsopen/close

Thorrold-Jaggard, Reginald

Reginald Thorrold-Jaggard (1889-1960) immigrated to New Zealand in 1913 and initially worked for another Palmerston North firm before starting his own in 1915. Thorrold-Jaggard was responsible for the design of several prominent Palmerston North buildings in the inter-war period, including Steeles Building, the King Street Flats, Ward Brothers Building, as well as the Palmerston North Municipal Chambers (1945), and houses in the wider Manawatu area and Wellington. Eventually his son, William (1914-2006), joined the practice in 1939 and the firm became R & W Thorrold-Jaggard. In the mid twentieth century the firm specialised in commercial and public buildings and also became the architects for the Dannevirke Hospital Board.

Additional informationopen/close

Historical Narrative

The discovery and settlement of the Wairarapa region is connected with several prominent figures of New Zealand’s history. Ancestral figures such as Hau-nui-a-nanaia, Kupe, Whatonga, Tara Ika and Toi have all been said to have connections with the region and are responsible for the naming of many of the Wairarapa’s features and places. It has been estimated that Rangitane settled in the region by about the sixteenth century. Marriage links with Rangitane saw a group of Ngati Kahungunu retreat to the Wairarapa in the subsequent century as the result of internal hapu conflict. The two groups cohabitated mostly in the south Wairarapa for a period, but then the Ngati Kahungunu newcomers negotiated several sections of land for themselves. This process was not seamless and instances of conflict continued between the two iwi over the centuries. The next significant period of change in the area was in the early nineteenth century with the progression south of Te Rauparaha and others. This ushered in an era when many different iwi, including Ngati Whatua, Ngati Awa, Ngati Toa, Ngati Raukawa, Ngati Tama, and Ngati Mutunga, made advances into the region and some Ngati Kahungunu hapu withdrew.

European incursion into the Wairarapa only began after the New Zealand Company’s Port Nicholson settlement was established. Based on the reports of the company’s exploring and surveying parties the southern Wairarapa became one of the first extensive tracts of land in New Zealand to be occupied by Europeans, although the Crown titles, negotiated by Donald McLean, were not obtained until 1853. However, it took substantially longer for settlement to progress beyond Masterton, which was linked to Wellington by road in 1859. Further incursion was slow because the northern Wairarapa was heavily forested. In particular, the forest north of Mount Bruce was dense with rimu, tawa, matai, maire, kahikatea, and rata, and was known as Forty Mile Bush, which was within the larger Seventy Mile Bush that also encompassed places as far north as Dannevirke and Norsewood. Maori referred to this forest as Te Tapere Nui o Whatonga (The great forest of Whatonga) and an abundance of birdlife resided there amongst giant ancient trees, some of which were large enough for groups of local Maori to shelter within their trunks.

The forest acted as a significant barrier and therefore, while there was some European settlement in the northern Wairarapa before the late nineteenth century, it was not until roads were extended further and the railway link to Wellington established that the area was opened up for substantive settlement. In preparation for the construction of railway the government had an active role in the foundation of several places in the region. Towns such as Mauriceville, Eketahuna, Norsewood, and Dannevirke were all initially formed as bases for the labourers. Part of the preparation for railway construction included clearing the forest and building a road through the district which had progressed by the mid to late 1870s.

This increased, albeit rudimentary, access meant that land sales in the Pahiatua area began in earnest in the early 1880s. An initially slow sales market was boosted greatly by purchases made on behalf of Arthur James Balfour (1848-1930), who later went onto become British Prime Minister and Earl Balfour. In this way, when Pahiatua township was eventually established in 1881-82 it differed from most of the other settlements in the area because it was not created by the Crown, instead it resulted from private subdivisions of land. The site of Pahiatua had previously been a Maori village called Te Pohatu. Pahiatua, which means resting place, or camp, of the atua, refers to a seventeenth century event when an atua rescued a Rangitane chief from invading forces from the south. Some have suggested that Pahiatua’s founder, Masterton nurseryman William Wilson McCardle (1844-1921), named the township after his friend, local Maori chief Koneke Pahiatua.

Much of the northern area of Pahiatua was originally part of Henry Mann’s property, and he was among the group of landowners led by McCardle who subdivided their sections in order to create the town. Earlier Mann had been the overseer on the Rimutaka road project which had helped to open up the Wairarapa for earnest European settlement. One of the streets that adjoined Main Street was named after Mann, however, this was later changed to Tararua Street. Indeed many of the street names in Pahiatua refer to the group of early European landowners or other prominent citizens. In this latter category is one of the town’s early twentieth century medical practitioners who moved to Pahiatua in 1913, Dr Hugh Paterson. It could be assumed that a similar honour had been paid to Dr Henry Thomas Dawson (1868-1938) in the naming of the street which abutted a property he purchased 1900, and which was eventually part of his large Dawson and Julia Street property. However, this name is purely coincidental as Dawson Street had been named such in the original 1882 plan of Pahiatua because it led to the property of P. Dawson.

Local tenacity meant that by the mid 1880s Pahiatua was a burgeoning town of about 500 people and in 1908 Pahiatua was described as a ‘rising town.’ As the population grew in Pahiatua and the surrounding rural areas and towns, correspondingly so did the demand for medical practitioners and services. Prior to the 1890s Pahiatua people relied on the experience of the local pharmacist, who also had some skill in dentistry, and a visiting doctor from Woodville who came into Pahiatua bi-weekly. This was the situation facing many small and isolated New Zealand settlements in their early years of development, however as the importance and population of Pahiatua and the surrounding farming area grew it began to attract qualified medical professionals, one of whom was Dr Dawson.

Despite New Zealand’s first medical school being established at Otago University in 1877 most of New Zealand’s medical practitioners in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries were trained overseas, and Dr Dawson was no exception. Dr Dawson had studied in Aberdeen, graduating in 1890 and then immigrating to New Zealand. For just over a year after his arrival Dr Dawson worked in a club practice in Masterton, which is where he probably met his future wife. Medical clubs, like the one Dr Dawson was briefly involved with, were societies that for an annual fee provided members with medical care and medicines. These were particularly prevalent in New Zealand in the late nineteenth century, which meant that it was ‘virtually impossible to practice without a club appointment.’ However, because the doctors employed by these clubs were obliged to provide as much medical assistance as required to each member and his immediate family, the subscription fee, which was generally between 15 shillings and £1, was often stretched thin and from the perspective of the medical profession this system was exploitative. However, as Dr Dawson’s first appointment out of university this may have been initially seen as a good means of establishing his credentials in his profession as well as his new country of residence.

Just prior to Dr Dawson’s arrival in Pahiatua Dr David Gault had set himself up in the town. Being among the first medical practitioners in area Dr Dawson was important locally because he was one of only a few people for the citizens to turn to with their medical problems or emergencies. Dr Dawson seems to have been firmly established by 1900 when he put down further roots by purchasing two sections on the corner of Dawson and Julia Streets from his colleague Dr Gault, perhaps in anticipation of his upcoming marriage to Gwendoline Meredith. Gwendoline was from Masterton and was part of the reasonably affluent family of Edwin Meredith, owner of Llandaff farm and ‘one of the oldest and most respected residents of the district.’

Until the early twentieth century there was not medical specialisation in New Zealand in fields like surgery, and as such doctors were expected to be generalists. Dr Dawson seems to have been an expert generalist as he has been described as a great man with ‘a high reputation as a medical man, and was looked upon as one of the most skilful surgeons in the Dominion.’ Dr Dawson, who one former patient described as ‘a wonderful doctor,’ was typical of small town doctors from the late nineteenth century in that he frequently ‘travelled out to people’s homes, first with only a horse and latterly he had a little carriage.’ While travelling long distances to farms and isolated settlements may have seemed tiresome to many people Dr Dawson is said to have ‘enjoyed the variation.’ As such, even though he was based in Pahiatua, Dr Dawson had an excellent reputation throughout the wider area.

As a privately created town Pahiatua was slow to accrue many of the public facilities that were established comparatively early in other towns and areas. Although a state school had already been opened by the time the County Council was established in 1888, it took years of pressure for other civic institutions and amenities to be granted to Pahiatua. For example, the first post office was only built in 1894, the same year as the town received its first permanent police officer. These services were obtained primarily due to considerable rallying from the local council. After these additions it seems that the council’s next priority was the creation of a public hospital.

Dr Dawson was supportive of the creation of a district hospital based in Pahiatua. However, unable to obtain state sponsorship for the enterprise the local people and councils took the funding and building of the hospital upon themselves. This local determination bore fruit and the first district public hospital was built with funds raised in the community and was jointly financed by the Akitio, Eketahuna and Pahiatua County Councils with assistance from the Pahiatua Borough Council as well. Despite inclement weather the opening celebrations in May 1902 were attended by the Minister of Education, Hon. William Campbell Walker (1837-1904), together with approximately 1000 local people. Incidentally, the Minister was escorted to the proceedings by the Pahiatua Mounted rifle Volunteers, a group that Dr Dawson was a member of and in 1908 was the surgeon-captain. Along with his role in the establishment of the hospital, Dr Dawson had an important ongoing relationship with the institution as its Medical Supervisor from its foundation, only retiring from this position one month before his death in 1938 because of his declining health.

Perhaps the busiest and most challenging time for Dr Dawson, his counterparts around Pahiatua, and all over New Zealand, was during the 1918 influenza epidemic. In this instance people were not encouraged to come into the hospital because it was recognised that the best way to contain the virus was not to encourage the movement and interaction of large groups of people. Therefore, Dr Dawson was among the many doctors around New Zealand who went above and beyond their usual capacity travelling far and wide to provide care for victims of the epidemic.

Like many of his colleagues practicing around New Zealand in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the often difficult conditions in which Dr Dawson worked seem to have been tolerated because of a sense that being a medical practitioner was ‘a satisfying vocation’ and because it provided ‘a reasonable income if not a fortune.’ Typically doctors ran their own individual practices, and although they might meet up with other local doctors to collegially discuss cases or as part of medical societies, general practitioners did not operate out of the clinics that we are accustomed to today. Therefore, it was common for doctors to make provision for their private and professional lives within their family residence. This did not begin to change until after the introduction by Michael Joseph Savage’s (1872-1940) first Labour government of the New Zealand’s social security system in 1938. This policy impacted on the way medical services were delivered by making them more readily available to the general populous, but change was mostly effected by international shifts in thinking and regulations within the medical field around the mid twentieth century which promoted group or clinic practice over solo practices.

By 1928 Dr Dawson had been a medical practitioner in Pahiatua for 36 years and had prospered as a result. By now Dr Dawson had a chauffeured car readily available, which was no doubt convenient for when he was called out to patient’s houses. It is unclear whether the Dawsons existing house included consulting rooms and on-site living facilities for the chauffeur, but it would seem that this residence was on the corner of Julia and Dawson Streets, property which the Dawsons had owned since 1900. It may have been Dr Dawson’s advancing years which motivated the 60 year old to construct a large new residence complete with convenient consulting rooms and chauffeur’s quarters, or perhaps just because the opportunity arose to extend his existing property. The sale of this neighbouring land was progressed in September 1928, by which time Dr Dawson had approached the reputable Palmerton North architect Reginald Thorrold-Jaggard (1889-1960) to design an impressive new house.

The Dawsons may have known about Thorrold-Jaggard’s work by reputation, but were probably familiar with it because of the construction of a house designed by Thorrold-Jaggard in 1927 just a few blocks over from Julia Street on Pahiatua’s Main Street. Thorrold-Jaggard immigrated to New Zealand in 1913 from England where he had trained in architecture, being articled in 1902 and then setting up his own practice in Canterbury in 1909. Upon arriving in New Zealand Thorrold-Jaggard initially worked for Palmerston North architect O.A. Jorgensen before beginning his own practice in 1915. Thorrold-Jaggard was reasonably prolific in the Manawatu in the early to middle decades of the twentieth century, particularly in Palmerston North where he was based, completing many commercial and residential buildings.

Thorrold-Jaggard subsequently became a ‘prominent Palmerston North architect,’ and was more broadly involved in architectural circles as one of the earliest members of the New Zealand Institute of Architects, and later as the local branch Chair. Many of his early commercial buildings show Italianate influences which were common in this form of building at the time. Throughout his career Thorrold-Jaggard designed buildings in a manner which was reflective of what was contemporaneously architecturally popular in New Zealand. For example, after designing many houses in the 1920s and 1930s in the fashionable English Cottage Style, including Dawson House and Doctor’s Surgery (Former) and a house on Oriental Parade in Wellington, he then developed an Art Deco vocabulary by the 1940s which was demonstrated in his domestic architecture as well as buildings such as the Municipal Chambers on The Square in Palmerston North (1945).

When tenders for Dr Dawson’s new residence and consulting rooms closed in September 1928 it was a Masterton builder, F. Waite, who won the contract. His was the lowest tender at just under £5,000. Construction got underway with a small ceremony. F. H. Crawford, who completed his building apprenticeship working on the Dawson’s residence, described the scene:

‘..the Doctor and his wife laid the first brick and then the maid and chauffeur. And then the maid brought out a tray, then we all had a drink two geather [sic].’

Work on the house then progressed and despite the completion being planned for March 1929 the project took six months longer than scheduled, with the cost for the house eventually coming to £5,170.

As previously mentioned, Dr Dawson continued his work for the hospital, but with the completion of the Julia Street house he now had spacious consulting rooms within his house. It appears that Dr Dawson continued to run his private practice from there up until he died in 1938, ending his almost 50 year career as a physician in Pahiatua. The property continued to be owned by Dr Dawson’s widow until her death in 1972 and it was then those sections of the property adjoining Dawson Street were subdivided and sold.

In the late 1970s the Julia Street property was purchased by Chester Burt, a Pahiatua funeral director who changed the function of the former doctor’s surgery to that of a mortuary. Burt, whose father had also been a local funeral director, was a prominent citizen who became Pahiatua’s mayor in 1983. The house seems to have come through the 1934 Pahiatua 7.6 magnitude earthquake unscathed however, as a result of an earthquake in 1990 the roofing tiles had to be replaced. In the early 1990s Burt sold the Julia Street property and relocated his business to Palmerston North. Subsequently another funeral director, Brian Pocock, owned the house and he used the former chauffeur’s quarters and garage for his show room.

Physical Description

Dawson House and Doctor’s Surgery (Former) is situated in central Pahiatua in the north-east part of the town’s residential area and is only one block removed from Pahiatua’s Main Street. Originally on a property which occupied almost the entire length of its Julia Street block, due to its scale the building has maintained a prominent street presence despite being hemmed in on its north side by single storey late twentieth century houses. The current section is almost square, with most of the main building positioned towards the street front of the southwest half, which also has the former chauffeur’s quarters and garage along its boundary. The remaining land is occupied by a late twentieth century four-car garage behind the chauffeur’s quarters, a swimming pool behind the main building, and a garden which is visible from the road due to the low brick fence along the street frontage, which is a sympathetic late twentieth century construction.

The main building, which had residential and medical practice provisions, and the chauffeur’s quarters were designed by Reginald Thorrold-Jaggard for Dr and Mrs Dawson in 1928 and completed in 1929, predominantly in brick. Thorrold-Jaggard seems to have had previously designed at least one other doctor’s residence which incorporated surgery rooms, that at 71 Broadway Avenue, Palmerston North, for Dr G. A. Forest (circa 1925), which is no longer at that location. Thorrold-Jaggard residences from around the time that Dawson House and Doctor’s Surgery (Former) was constructed, such as the house at 298 Oriental Parade, Wellington (1928), and Palmerston North examples like 181 Fitzherbert Avenue and 9 Carlton Avenue, all show a predilection towards English Cottage Style architecture, otherwise known as English Domestic Revival. This style was contemporary with and related to the Arts and Crafts movement in New Zealand, both advocating looking back to a pre-industrial English architecture, usually Elizabethan or Tudor, for their inspiration. However, Arts and Crafts practitioners were also committed to creating purely handcrafted buildings using locally sourced materials.

English Cottage Style houses are generally one and a half or two-storey buildings which have steeply pitched gabled main roofs often broken by sub-gables and dormers, with deep eaves and associated bracketing. Dawson House and Doctor’s Surgery (Former) is a two-storey example in which interconnecting gables and a series of dormers creates a dynamic looking building. Other English Cottage Style characteristics of the main building include each level having a different external appearance; the lower level is red brick while the upper, which is also slightly cantilevered out over the lower level, is stuccoed. Another typical element derived from Elizabethan architecture is the decorative timber shingle cladding on the upper portions of the main gables. A distinctive English Cottage Style Tudor influenced aspect of the building’s Julia and Dawson Street façades is the prevalence of various diamond and square pane leadlight casement windows. The original roof slates are present on the chauffeur’s quarters. However, those on the main building have been replaced with concrete Marseille-like tiles, which is consistent in appearance to those used elsewhere in English Cottage Style houses.

Jeremy Salmond explains that basic examples of English Cottage Style houses are larger scale versions of the common bungalow and are indicative of the relative wealth and status of their owners. For example, English Cottage Style buildings were typically owned by more affluent people who, like the Dawson family, had a live-in maid. Representative English Cottage Style interior features of Dawson House and Doctor’s Surgery (Former) include the spacious entrance hall and the striking staircase complete with original, or near contemporary, Art Deco figurine lamp wired into the first newel. The large gallery of the second storey landing is a feature of the Dawson’s house which Salmond attributes to only the ‘best houses’ of the English Cottage Style. To complete the ‘English’ feeling within the building the entrance and stairwell were lined with timber panelling and the ceilings in the residential section of the ground floor have timber battens. Plastered ceilings were also common in this style of house. In Dawson House and Doctor’s Surgery (Former) the doctor’s surgery is distinguished from the residential portion of the house primarily through its stippled ceiling plasterwork which is consistent with the texture of the glazing of the surgery’s windows on the southwest façade. This plasterwork is replicated upstairs in the maid’s room, which is perhaps a reflection on her status within the family because every other bedroom, as well as the upstairs landing gallery, has an individualised moulded plastered ceiling featuring Art Nouveau inspired floral designs.

The main building is a multi-gabled two-storey house which also incorporates Dr Dawson’s former surgery at the southwest end of the ground floor. The separate functions of the building are indicated by two very different statement entrance porticoes; the house portico is classical in style with sets of concrete simple columns and the portico of the business section of the building is more medieval looking with its crenulated brick portico. The main building has a reasonably high level of natural light due to the presence of much external and internal glazing, including a sizeable skylight which produces an almost an atrium-like effect down through the stairwell.

Upon entering the residence part of the main building through French doors with bevelled edged glass, there is a spacious entrance hall, at the back of which is the staircase. The Art Deco staircase balustrading consists of simple panels of timber interspersed with thinner equivalents whose height and perpendicular members echo the line of the moulded handrail above. A small decorative touch has been added to each of the upper sections of the main balustrades, with four quadrangle notches being carved to create a cross shape. Below the stair the entrance hall joins to a short passageway which is announced by a timber arch.

Immediately adjoining the hall to the northeast is the main lounge which has its original fireplace with tiled surround and bracketed deep timber mantelpiece, as well as an external access point on its north corner. Opposite the door within the small side porch is the access to the built-in wood-box.

The first room which branches off the short passage on the northeast side and adjoins the lounge is a smaller secondary living space which also has a fireplace. The conservatory/sunroom which occupies the north corner of the building is accessed through double doors from the small living room, as well as the dining room which is at the end of the passage. Aside from the entrance to the small living room, all of these internal doors are bevelled edge multi-pane glass doors.

Through an opening in the southwest wall of the dining room is the kitchen. Although now an open plan space this area seems to have previously also housed a scullery/larder which was removed by the late twentieth century. Recently a large portion of what remained of this dividing wall was also removed, although a small remnant is still visible on the northwest side.

As well as the external entrance at the front of the building, the doctor’s surgery section of the ground floor is accessible from the residential part through a door at the southwest end of the entrance hall or, alternatively, from the kitchen. Dr Dawson’s office is the largest room in this part of the building and contains its original retractable light fitting and wash basin. This room has an access point off the entrance hall, as well as from the surgery’s passageway which runs parallel to the southwest façade, beginning at the front external access point and terminating at the kitchen.

There are three further rooms that make up the former business area of the building which adjoin the passage on its southwest side, all of which were originally used as consulting and examination rooms. The centre room was converted into a bathroom in 2007, and the other two are now used as guest bedrooms. The previous owner had installed a large refrigerator unit for his mortuary business into the back room through the passage wall. When the building was sold the mortuary paraphernalia was removed leaving a large hole in this wall, which was repaired when the current owners took possession.

Upstairs is a spacious central landing gallery which all of the main rooms directly connect to. Contained within the main gable and the sub-gable on northeast side of the building is the master bedroom. The sub-gable juts out from the main gable over the lounge bay window below, and contains a small nursery area which is accessible through double doors. Within the north corner dormer is a sewing room which is reached through the small bedroom in the northwest sub-gable. To the south of this room are storage and bathroom areas. The double dormers on the southwest side coincide with the maid’s room and en suite, as well as more storage space. The complement of upstairs rooms is completed by an elongated bedroom within the front gable.

Aside from the removal of a wall in the kitchen, and the partial removal then rebuilding of the back surgery room wall, there have been few significant changes to the form of the building. However, a notable alteration is the conversion of the original laundry, which was externally accessible from the back door of the kitchen, into a spa-pool room in 1984. At the same time a new laundry lean-to was appended to the spa area and an aluminium framed conservatory as well.

The chauffeur’s quarters and original garage is a small single gabled building in the same tradition as the main house. However, its appearance from the street has been altered due to the insertion of aluminium framed glazing along almost its entire length which was part of its turn of the twentieth century conversion into a mortuary showroom, and also an upper balcony and ranch slider. This former showroom and office area is now used as self-contained guest accommodation, with a kitchenette added upstairs.

Comparative analysis

Dawson House and Doctor’s Surgery (Former) is one of many buildings in New Zealand constructed as residences for medical practitioners from the early period of European settlement and into the twentieth century which also include accommodation for their surgeries. Some late nineteenth century examples include a house in Leeston dating from 1877, and Fitzgerald House, Oamaru (1885). Roughly contemporary with the Dawson buildings are Dargaville’s Doctor’s Residence and Surgery (1924) and the neo-Georgian Aickin House in Auckland (circa 1928). Earlier, in 1913, Sir James Sands Elliott constructed his house and surgery in Wellington which was also neo-Georgian in style and is a Category I historic place. The Dargaville house shows English Cottage and Arts and Crafts architectural influences, but their stamp is not as marked as at Dawson House and Doctor’s Surgery (Former).

What is unusual about Dawson House and Doctor’s Surgery (Former) is that, unlike the previous examples, the two functions of the building are clearly decipherable in the architectural form of the building. While other doctors’ houses included consulting and surgery rooms generally with a separate entrance for patients, these are not as discreet in Dr Dawson’s building due to its statement entrance porticoes which definitively differentiate between the business and residential aspects of the building.

There are a number of domestic buildings that are Category I historic places dating from the 1920s. The majority of these are grand neo-Georgian buildings and include places such as Weston House, Waimahaka Homestead, Anderson Park Art Gallery, and Pearson House. There are several Arts and Crafts or English Cottage style residences as well. Like most of the houses dating from 1910 which were influenced by these styles, one of the 1920s examples, Tweed House, was the work notable architect James Walter Chapman-Taylor (1878-1958).

The differences between Dawson House and Doctor’s Surgery (Former) and examples of Chapman-Taylor’s architecture demonstrate the key differences between English Cottage Style and Arts and Crafts architecture. Chapman-Taylor was immersed in the theory and practices of the Art and Crafts movement. The artisan qualities and detailing instilled by Chapman-Taylor is not found in the work of Thorrold-Jaggard, but there is still a high level of machine crafted detail present. Although similar to Arts and Crafts buildings, particularly in respect to their nostalgic references to Elizabethan and Tudor architecture, because Thorrold-Jaggard was more referential in his designs he was clearly primarily influenced by the English Cottage Style. The popularity of Thorrold-Jaggard’s domestic work within the Manawatu, where he was based, demonstrates that his immediate target market in the period around the 1920s-30s was satisfied with the English Cottage Style houses he produced and that although relatively wealthy people they were not able to financially justify the level of philosophically driven handcrafting propounded by Chapman-Taylor and other Arts and Crafts practitioners.

Construction Dates

Original Construction
1928 - 1929

1984 -
Laundry and conservatory additions

1999 - 2000
Conversion of chauffeur’s quarters and garage into mortuary showroom and office

1990 -
Main building re-roofed

2007 -
Bathroom installed in former chauffeur’s quarters. Downstairs bathroom added to main building. Kitchen alterations

Construction Details

Brick, concrete, glass, plaster, timber

Completion Date

1st November 2010

Report Written By

Karen Astwood

Information Sources

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Other Information

A fully referenced registration report is available from the NZHPT Central 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.