1 Holloway Road, Mitchelltown, Wellington

  • House.
    Copyright: NZ Historic Places Trust. Taken By: Shane Bradbury. Date: 1/10/2009.
  • House.
    Copyright: NZ Historic Places Trust. Taken By: Natasha Naus. Date: 15/11/2012.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 2 Public Access Private/No Public Access
List Number 4122 Date Entered 5th September 1985


Extent of List Entry

Extent of registration includes the land described as Pt Sec 10 Owhiro District (NZ Gazette 1989, p.2168), Wellington Land District, and the building known as House thereon.

City/District Council

Wellington City


Wellington Region

Legal description

Pt Sec 10 Owhiro District (NZ Gazette, 1989, p.2168), Wellington Land District


This large two-storey villa situated on the hillside above Holloway Road is a local landmark - larger and more ornate than its modest workers’ cottages neighbours. The house was built by William James Foster, a prominent resident and civil servant, for his family in 1905. The house at 1 Holloway Road is significant for its historic, aesthetic and architectural values, and it makes an important contribution to the wider Victorian heritage landscape of Mitchelltown which includes a number of registered historic places.

The house is part of a wider historic suburb known as Mitchelltown, named after Henry Mitchell, who built many of the cottages in the area for his workers and is regarded as ‘the father of Mitchelltown’. Mitchell and his brothers, William and James, came to New Zealand from Halifax, Yorkshire, in 1841 and purchased Section 10 Ohiro District (comprised of 102 acres) in 1857. They cleared the land, selling the timber and running sheep. Henry bought out his brothers in the 1870s and established a ‘working man’s village’ which became one of Wellington’s earliest subdivisions.

William and Emma Foster lived in Mitchelltown prior to the construction of the house. W.J. Foster is named as the occupier of 9 Holloway Road in 1888 and is listed in the Stones Street Directory as a resident in 1891. In 1893 Emma Foster purchased the land on which the house stands from John Collins, who had subdivided the land in 1891.

William was born in England in 1850, educated at a Kentish school and worked in the steam brick making and iron trades. After his marriage in 1874 he immigrated to New Zealand. Foster retrained in New Zealand as an inspector of engineering works and became clerk and engineer of the Kilbirnie Board and the Melrose Borough when it amalgamated with the Wellington City in 1903. Foster was the secretary of the Mitchelltown School Committee for a number of years and was described in his obituary as ‘a quiet, unassuming and kindly disposed man, he was liked by all who knew him.’ William died in 1909 and Emma retained ownership of the house until her death in 1935.

The house is a two storey square plan villa with a pyramid roofline, featuring rusticated timber weatherboards and large double hung sash windows. The upper floor has a verandah that wraps around three sides of the building and is ‘enhanced by the enriched balustrade round the upper floor balcony. Instead of being turned, the balusters are cut from inch thick boards and they have a pattern cut out of their surface.’ This detailing gives the building an ‘air of elegance.’ The size, decoration and location of the house are reflective of the social and economic mobility of William and Emma Foster. They were able to buy land and build a house that was better positioned for sun and views than the valley dwellers.

The land was transferred a number of times prior to its acquisition for university purposes in 1989. The house forms part of Victoria University of Wellington’s student accommodation.


Construction Professionalsopen/close

Foster, William James

No biography is currently available for this construction professional

Additional informationopen/close

Construction Dates

Original Construction
1905 -

Completion Date

30th January 2013

Report Written By

Natasha Naus

Information Sources

Evening Post

Evening Post

18 December 1908, p.2; 14 Sept 1909, p.6; 15 Feb 1935, p.1

Fearnley, 1970

Fearnley, Charles, Vintage Wellington: Photographs of the earlier buildings of Wellington, Dunedin: John McIndoe, 1970


David C. McGill, Mitchelltown: Towards Neighbourhood Definition, submitted in partial fulfilment of the Bachelor of Architecture Degree, Victoria University of Wellington (unpublished), 1979

Other Information

A fully referenced Upgrade 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.