94 Winchester Street And Bath Street, Levin
List Entry Information
List Entry Status
List Entry Type
Historic Place Category 2
Private/No Public Access
5th September 1985
Extent of List Entry
Extent includes the land described as Lot 1 DP 67353 (CT WN39B/702), Wellington Land District and the building known as House thereon.
Horizons (Manawatu-Wanganui) Region
Lot 1 DP 67353 (CT WN39B/702), Wellington Land District
Most likely constructed in 1908, the house on the corner of 94 Winchester Street and Bath Street is a modest villa built near the end of the vast popularity of this residential type. The house has architectural significance as a representative example of what was the quintessential housing form at the start of the twentieth century, as built for a young working-class couple—a baker’s assistant and his wife—in a small, quickly growing town.
Levin was one of a string of towns founded along the Wellington and Manawatu Railway line, completed in 1886. The sale of town sections to Pākehā settlers began in 1889. Its early prosperity was based mainly in agricultural products, while later this industry was also joined by successful businesses in manufacturing.
A part of this expansion, Frank and Theodora Swanwick moved to Levin from Otago around 1907. Frank initially worked as a baker’s assistant. He purchased the section in November 1907 and a second property transaction two weeks later involving the ‘Government Advances to Settlers Office of the Superintendent’ indicates the villa was likely constructed sometime in 1908. The State Advances Corporation had its origins in the Government Advances to Settlers Act of 1894, crafted ‘to provide assistance to settlers for the development of their holdings,’ including houses.
While modest, the Swanwick’s villa was not the simplest variation of the form. Rather, the main mass of the house has a side-facing gable roof with a ridge line that neatly intersects with the ridge of the more narrow secondary mass, which has a cross-gable roof running from front to back. This cross-gabled mass pushes forward at the front, providing a terminus for the L-shaped verandah that wraps around the building. The spacious verandah and polygonal bay window at the front provide a level of distinction for the otherwise small dwelling.
The interior had a typical villa plan with the major rooms opening off a centre hall extending back from the front door. Commonly, the interiors of villas were arranged so the parlour and its best bedroom were to either side of the front door with a second bedroom(s) and kitchen/dining room at the rear and the service spaces (washhouse, WC, bathroom, pantry, and scullery) predominantly located in the lean-to. Without a clear grouping of rooms by function, the centre hall and a lack of communicating doors between adjacent rooms became the best way of buffering public from private from service within the villa.
Well-known local historian Francis Corrison Swanwick (‘Corrie’, 1910-2005) was born in the house in 1910. The Swanwicks sold the house in 1918 and despite numerous subsequent owners the house’s original form remains intact, there have been no obvious additions, and most of its original features are extant. The corbelled chimneys have been reduced in height. The decorative fretwork on the verandah remains in situ, although the balustrade has been encased with weatherboards and the original curved roof replaced with a simpler profile. The interior was recently updated, but retains the basic villa plan of major rooms opening off the centre hall. The most dramatic change has been swapping the places of the main bedroom and parlour/living room at the front of the house and opening the latter to the dining area and kitchen.
Replaced traditional decorative timber balustrade with metal siding in weatherboard pattern.
2nd February 2017
Report Written By
James A. Jacobs
Jeremy Salmond, Old New Zealand Houses 1800-1940, Auckland, 1986, Reed Methuen
Swanwick, Corrie, ‘94 Winchester Street, Levin’, Kete Horowhenua, URL: http://horowhenua.kete.net.nz/en/site/topics/902-94-winchester-street-levin
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 Central region Office of Heritage New Zealand.