Stoneways

46 Mountain Road, Epsom, Auckland

  • Brick boundary fence adjoining southern right of way, looking east.
    Copyright: Auckland City Council, Heritage Division. Date: 1/07/2007.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 1 Public Access Private/No Public Access
List Number 4499 Date Entered 10th December 2010

Locationopen/close

Extent of List Entry

Extent includes the land described as Lot 2 DP 60602 (CT NA16C/584), North Auckland Land District and the buildings and structures known as Stoneways thereon, and their fittings and fixtures. (Refer to map in Appendix 1 for further information).

City/District Council

Auckland Council (Auckland City Council)

Region

Auckland Council

Legal description

Lot 2 DP 60602 (CT NA16C/584), North Auckland Land District

Location description

Approximate NZMG Easting 2668175.30; Approximate NZMG Northing 6479835.65 (Taken from approximate centre of site).

Summaryopen/close

Occupying a Mountain Road site in Epsom opposite the landmark Auckland Grammar School, Stoneways is a well-preserved mid-1920s residence designed by the eminent New Zealand architect William Gummer (1884-1966) as his own family home. Lived in by Gummer for much of his adult working life, the two and a half-storey dwelling reflects the status and design skill of one of the co-founders of renowned architectural practice Gummer and Ford, who is known for a number of nationally significant commissions in Wellington and Auckland.

Stoneways lies to the northeast of Maungawhau (Mt Eden), the site of a pa with a long history of human occupation. Following Auckland’s founding as colonial capital in 1840, the land was part of William Aitken’s substantial suburban residential estate Rockwood. In 1924 William Gummer purchased the site on which to build his family home following his marriage to Edith Oiroa Batley (1900-2001). As the residence of a noted architect acclaimed as the principal designer of fifteen public buildings and monuments during the 1920s alone, the innovative and eclectic style of Stoneways illustrated the proficiency of classically trained Gummer as a creator of buildings for the New Zealand context.

The large, two and a half-storey residence was of concrete frame construction and reflected a free-style classicism attributable to Gummer’s period of work and study under prominent British architect Edwin Lutyens in 1911. One of comparatively few residential works by Gummer and a marked contrast to his early Arts and Crafts-influenced domestic designs in timber, Stoneways consisted of two obliquely located wings reminiscent of his much larger work at Tauroa homestead in Havelock North (1916). Internally, the ground floor layout incorporated public rooms, a den, a dining room and several service rooms. On the upper floor there were bedrooms and generous balconies. A staircase provided access to a flat roof which offered views of the Auckland Domain and outer Waitemata Harbour. Extensive grounds, an ongoing development project, reflected Gummer’s interest in landscape design and construction.

In 1934 a large west-facing balcony was enclosed and in 1940 a single-storey laundry addition was constructed. In 1957 Stoneways was purchased by Terence Gresson, one of the youngest appointees to the then Supreme Court. Subdivision of two rear lots in the late 1960s halved the area of the site. Stoneways featured in an account of the development of architecture in New Zealand in the nineteenth edition of Sir Banister Fletcher’s History of Architecture where it was noted for its classical composition, picturesque crafted features, and as the former residence of the prominent architect William Gummer. Classical attributes included a portico, a loggia and the monumental character of the flat-roofed structure. Stoneways remains in use as a private residence.

Stoneways has aesthetic significance for its visually interesting design, its distinctive form and the quality of its well-preserved interior which includes a distinctive stair hall window incorporating a small oriel feature. It has architectural value as a well-preserved, domestic design by the New Zealand architect William Gummer, who is considered to have been one of the finest architects of his generation and one of the country’s best-known architects during the inter-war period. It has outstanding significance as an illustration of Gummer’s flair for devising complex but lucid residential floor plans, within a small body of domestic work that achieved a distinction equal to his commercial buildings. Stoneways has outstanding historical value as the matrimonial home and three-decade place of residence of William Gummer, who lived in the building while undertaking a large number of nationally significant commissions.

Assessment criteriaopen/close

Historical Significance or Value

Stoneways has considerable historical significance as the matrimonial home and place of residence of William Gummer, a prominent twentieth-century New Zealand architect and founder of the renowned Auckland architectural practice Gummer and Ford. As the designer of a number of significant commercial, public and civic structures over his five-decade career, Gummer was an important figure in the development of architecture and the architectural profession in the New Zealand.

Aesthetic Significance or Value

Stoneways has aesthetic value for its interesting design, distinctive form and the complex composition of its exterior walls. It is also of value for its creative use of fenestration and accentuation of horizontal lines, the latter being exhibited through the use of a flat roof, balconies, a terrace structure, and strip mouldings above openings. The residence can be considered to have aesthetic significance for the quality of its well-preserved interior which includes timber panelling, a staircase and an unusual stair hall window incorporating a smaller oriel feature.

Architectural Significance or Value

Stoneways has high architectural significance as a well-preserved, domestic design by the New Zealand architect, William Gummer. Gummer is considered to have been one of the finest architects of his generation and one of the country’s best-known architects during the inter-war period. At the time of its erection, the house was regarded by the construction industry as ‘unique’ and ‘important’, and has since been considered to be one of the best examples of Gummer’s complex yet fluid domestic designs. The place also has architectural significance for its concrete frame construction and for a classical style more commonly associated with public architecture. Classical influences include the monumental character of the flat-roofed structure, a loggia; a portico with paired rectangular pilasters with squared tops; a simple cornice; and the symmetrical layout of reception rooms, elements softened by a plan that combines classical axiality and symmetry with the asymmetry of the Picturesque, or English Arts and Crafts vernacular. Stoneways has architectural significance as a 1920s domestic design featuring a large terrace and balconies that reflect the New Zealand climate and lifestyle.

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

Stoneways reflects the influence of English culture and tastes in early decades of twentieth-century architecture and society, and a growing demand among wealthy New Zealanders in the 1920s for new interpretations of the English mansion style as a means of conveying progress and status. It also reflects the personal wealth and social status of prominent members of the architectural profession in New Zealand in the first half of the twentieth century, a formative period in the development of commercial and public architecture as an expression of growing national identity.

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

The place has outstanding significance for its three-decade association with prominent New Zealand architect William Henry Gummer, who has been considered to be one of the finest New Zealand architects of his generation and one of the country’s best-known architect during the inter-war period. Stoneways was Gummer’s matrimonial home and his place of residence during much of his adult working life. Gummer was a significant influence in the development and practice of architecture over his fifty-year career, including as a founder of Auckland-based Gummer and Ford, an architectural practice known for its technically advanced work and some of the largest and most complex projects undertaken in New Zealand between the early 1920s and 1960. As the designer of a number of significant public buildings and memorials including the National War Memorial (1932), the National Art Gallery and Dominion Museum (1936) and the Hall of Memories (1964), and as one of two honorary architects appointed for restoration of the Treaty House at Waitangi in 1932, Gummer was also a significant influence in the manner in which the Dominion portrayed its developing nationhood and defining historical events.

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

Stoneways has outstanding significance as a well-preserved residential building designed by William Gummer, which has been held to reflect his personal architectural philosophy and status. Although small in number, Gummer’s domestic designs have been considered the equal of his commercial work, in which he had set new standards in New Zealand. Stoneways is regarded as particularly important as one of two examples that best illustrate his flair for devising complex but lucid residential floor plans, acquired from the eminent British architect Edwin Lutyens. The design is important as a refinement of the rotational plan, a residential design concept initially adopted by Gummer a decade earlier at Tauroa which had set him apart from more conservative contemporaries.

The building has high value for its largely unaltered exterior; the survival of much of the original overall internal layout and elements of internal detailing which enhance appreciation of the technical accomplishment of the design. The entrance gate and garden walls within the front portion of the site have value as surviving remnants of a wider planned landscape that was designed and constructed by William Gummer as an integrated setting for his home.

(k) The extent to which the place forms part of a wider historical and cultural complex or historical and cultural landscape

The place forms part of a significant and comparatively well-preserved historical and cultural landscape in Epsom, a suburb favoured by the influential and wealthy for their residential estates in the nineteenth and twentieth century. Epsom contains a number of surviving historic nineteenth-century estate houses including Highwic, Marivare, Rockwood and the residence that became Rocklands Hall. Grand homes of a more recent era include Florence Court and Omana built in the early years of the twentieth century, Ngahere (1907-8), Rannoch (1914) and Whare Tane (circa 1925-6).

Stoneways forms part of a smaller historical and cultural landscape associated with the architect William Gummer in Mountain Road, which also includes the Gummer-designed War Memorial (erected 1922) in the grounds of Auckland Grammar School; and Ngahere (1907-8) the house where Gummer lived while designing and supervising the construction of Stoneways.

Conclusion

It is considered that this place qualifies as a Category I historic place. Stoneways has outstanding significance for its three-decade association with prominent New Zealand architect William Henry Gummer, who has been considered to be one of the finest New Zealand architects of his generation and one of the country’s best-known architects during the inter-war period. Stoneways was Gummer’s matrimonial home and his place of residence during much of his adult working life.

Stoneways is also outstandingly significant as a well-preserved residential building designed by William Gummer, which has been held to reflect his personal architectural philosophy and status. Although small in number, Gummer’s domestic designs have been considered the equal of his commercial work, in which he had set new standards in New Zealand. Stoneways is regarded as particularly important as one of two examples that best illustrate his flair for devising complex but lucid residential floor plans, learned from the eminent British architect Edwin Lutyens. The design is important as a refinement of the rotational plan, a residential design concept adopted by Gummer a decade earlier at Tauroa, a work that had set him apart from more conservative contemporaries.

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Gummer, William Henry

Gummer (1884-1966) was articled to W.A. Holman, an Auckland architect, and qualified as an Associate of the Royal Institute of British Architects in 1910. From 1908 to 1913 he travelled in the United Kingdom, Europe and the United States. During this time he worked for Edwin Lutyens, a leading English architect of the time, and for Daniel Burnham in Chicago. Burnham was a major American architect and one of the founders of the influential Chicago School of Architecture.

Gummer joined the firm of Hoggard and Prouse of Auckland and Wellington in 1913. Significant commissions undertaken during this period included the New Zealand Insurance (later known as the Guardian Trust) Building, Auckland (1914-18).

In 1923 Gummer, one of the most outstanding architects working in New Zealand in the first half of the twentieth century, joined with Charles Reginald Ford (1880-1972) to create an architectural partnership of national significance. The practice was responsible for the design of the Dilworth Building (1926), Auckland, the Dominion Museum (1936) and the State Insurance Building (1940), both Wellington. Gummer and Ford were awarded Gold Medals by the New Zealand Institute of Architects for their designs of the Auckland Railway Station and Remuera Library.

Gummer was also responsible for the Bridge of Remembrance, Christchurch and the Cenotaph in Dunedin (1927), and the stylistically and structurally advanced Tauroa (1916), Craggy Range (1919), Arden (1926) and Te Mata (1935) homesteads at Havelock North. Elected a Fellow of the New Zealand Institute of Architects in 1914, he was president of the Institute from 1933-4 and was later elected a life member.

Grinter, Albert George

Albert (Bert) George Grinter (1882-1974) worked as a builder on his own account in the South Island from circa 1910 until 1922 when he set up business in Auckland. By 1945, when it was renamed A.G. Grinter and Son Limited, the firm diversified into the manufacture of joinery to meet its own needs and those of other builders. During the Second World War (1939-45), the company specialised solely in construction.

Grinter undertook a wide range of construction work including schools, churches, hospitals and residential projects including private dwellings and blocks of state housing. In 1925-6 Bert Grinter won a contract for the construction of Stoneways, the Epsom residence of eminent Auckland architect William Gummer. In 1930, Grinter also erected a brick electricity substation for the Auckland Electric Power Board at The Drive in Epsom.

Additional informationopen/close

Historical Narrative

Early history of the site

Stoneways is situated near the base of Maungawhau (Mt Eden) in Auckland’s Epsom. According to some accounts, the renowned military engineer, Titahi of Ngati Awa was associated with construction of a large pa there, which was later occupied by the Waiohua people. Extensive cultivations and related activity areas were located on volcanic soils on the mountain’s lower slopes. Maungawhau was part of the broader Auckland isthmus taken over by Ngati Whatua in the eighteenth century. No Maori occupation of the mountain is currently known immediately preceding the foundation of Auckland as colonial capital in 1840.

Subdivided into farms as early as 1842, the Epsom area became renowned for its large country homes and later as a prestigious residential suburb. In 1865, real estate agent William Aitken (1826-1901) one of Auckland’s most financially successful early settlers, purchased three Crown Grants there, a holding incrementally increased to a sizeable estate. The Aitken residence, Rockwood, was one of a number of substantial homesteads built on Mountain Road in the mid-to-late 1800s.

Located within Allotment 81, the future Stoneways site formed part of the northeast portion of the Rockwood property. Following Aitken’s death in 1901, Rockwood was transferred to Jeannie Richmond, his niece. Subdivision of the northern part of the estate began in 1904, as Epsom evolved from a loose community of country estates into a suburban residential area. Allotment 81 was subdivided into two main sections circa 1920. The Stoneways site, a triangular lot of approximately 2800 square metres with a narrow frontage to Mountain Road, was purchased in January 1924 by Herbert Smeeton (1862?-1927), the founder of a prosperous early twentieth-century national retail grocery enterprise. Many prominent Auckland business and industry leaders of the era chose Epsom locations on which to construct large residences, reinforcing the suburb’s reputation as a desirable middle class area.

William Gummer’s purchase of the site

In July 1924 architect William Henry Gummer (1884-1966) purchased Smeeton’s property. Auckland-born Gummer has been considered to be one of the finest New Zealand architects of his generation and during the inter-war period was one of the country’s best-known architects.

Gummer was one of the eight children of Thomas George Gummer, an accountant, and his wife, Jane Taylor Moginie. In 1901 he was articled to local architect William Holman. Gummer later studied at the Royal Academy of Arts, London, a body dominated by beaux-arts classicism, an architectural style characterised by grandness, formality, symmetry and elaborate ornamentation. He worked in the office of the eminent British architect Edwin Lutyens in 1911, a period of emerging classicism in the latter’s work. Gummer also worked briefly in the United States in 1912 under Daniel Burnham, a leading figure in the influential Chicago School.

On his return to New Zealand in 1913, Gummer became a partner of Hoggard, Prouse and the principal designer of the practice. Gummer’s skilled manipulation of Stripped Classical forms, limited range of high-quality materials, and structural innovation set new standards for commercial architecture in New Zealand. Following two years as a sole practitioner, Gummer went into partnership with C. Reginald Ford (1880-1972) to create New Zealand’s most prominent architectural practice of the 1920s and 30s.

Formation of the partnership coincided with a recovery in business confidence in the Dominion following a two-year economic downturn brought about by cessation of the commandeer system under which the British government guaranteed a market and high prices for New Zealand’s primary exports following the First World War (1914-18). With the upturn, a sustained borrowing programme initiated by government, local bodies and many private companies stimulated construction work.

Well-established professionally and financially, Gummer married Edith Oiroa Batley (1900-2001) in late 1923. By 1925, the couple were living at the Arts and Crafts-influenced residence Ngahere on Mountain Road where the eldest of the Gummer’s three children was born in 1925. Constructed in 1907-8 for a member of the Richmond family, Ngahere was designed by Auckland architect F. Noel Bamford one of four New Zealand-born architects (of whom Gummer became the most prominent) to study under Lutyens. While living at Ngahere, Gummer designed and oversaw the construction of a distinctive and purpose-built family home at nearby Stoneways.

Construction of Stoneways (1925-6)

Stoneways was erected in 1925-6 as a concrete residence of eclectic style. Built with three floor levels, it consisted of two obliquely located wings with balconies and a flat roof that doubled as a viewing terrace. In 1926, the year of its main construction, Gummer was elected a fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) and began work on a competition design for the Auckland Railway Station, for which he was to gain a gold medal from the New Zealand Institute of Architects (NZIA).

Stoneways was constructed by building contractor Albert Grinter (1882-1974). Grinter had worked on his own account in the South Island prior to relocating to Auckland in 1922. The Gummers were in residence at Stoneways by 1927. The Mountain Road address remained the Gummer family home for almost three decades and was the architect’s place of residence during much of his adult working life.

As the house of a partner of a prominent architectural practice and an architect acclaimed as the principal designer of fifteen public buildings and monuments during the 1920s alone, the design for Stoneways was perceived as a personal statement, open to professional and public scrutiny. In the early stages of the design process, Gummer considered adopting a steeply-pitched roof for his residence, in keeping with Lutyens’ more traditional works in the Arts and Crafts style.

In the design of the Hawke’s Bay homestead Tauroa (1914-1919) and the later Stoneways, Gummer illustrated a continuation and development of ideas learnt in Lutyens’ office. The floor plans associated with symmetrical facades designed by Lutyens were never simply symmetrical or axial reflecting the English architect’s ability to compose asymmetrically with a masterly balance that was firmly rooted in the Picturesque tradition. The basic plan common to most of Lutyens’ domestic projects required three distinct groups of rooms: a suite of reception rooms; a private retreat for the owners, usually a library (in Gummer’s design for Stoneways a den); and, the kitchen and other functional spaces, spaces which needed to be separate and yet connected.

Precedents informing the design of Stoneways were Lutyens’ Papillon Hall, Leicestershire (1902-3); Castle Drogo, Devon (1910-30); and Gummer’s Tauroa. At Stoneways Gummer achieved a sense of an embracing entrance by means of a spayed entry, in effect creating a sense of thresholds from the exterior to the interior spaces, a reference to Papillon Hall where two radiating wing additions created a ‘butterfly’ plan with a centrally located, angled entrance.

Gummer had worked on the design of Castle Drogo in 1911. A house in which Lutyens played with the idea of a castle, the structure was asymmetrical in that less than half of what was originally proposed was built, so depend on ideas about massing and movement through a sequence of spaces. Influences from Castle Drogo are suggested by a vertical tower element to the south of Stoneways’ front entrance, a horizontal north wing emphasised by a terrace, and an unusual sequence of internal spaces.

Regarded by the construction industry as a ‘unique’ and ‘important’ building at the time of its erection, Stoneways was of an eclectic and innovative style illustrating the proficiency of classically trained Gummer as a creator of buildings for the New Zealand context. Although small in number, Gummer’s domestic works are considered to have achieved a distinction equal to his commercial buildings. His flair for devising complex but lucid plans is considered to be best illustrated at Stoneways, and at Tauroa in Hawkes Bay.

Stoneways is held to express a strong classical character. A suburban derivative of the grand Hawkes Bay homestead Tauroa erected a decade before, Stoneways exhibited elements of an architectural style traditionally reserved for monumental public buildings, but rarely used for domestic architecture in New Zealand. Both residences had a rotational plan centred on a central stairwell, were of complex form and by the use of axial and directional planning expressed a feeling of movement which also extended to the design of the garden.

Stoneways was constructed with three levels, utilising a difficult rocky site to good advantage. The design presenting an impressive face to the street disguised an elegant but smaller than perceived dwelling. The topography concealed a basement in which a photographic dark room, a laundry and a garage were located. Flat roof lines, brick and reinforced concrete construction, and spacious balconies convey an acceptable grandeur without the florid use of ornamentation. These features are debated as demonstrating Spanish Mission and Californian influences while an alternative view acknowledges Stoneways as an individual design response to climatic and seismic conditions in New Zealand.

Internally Stoneways was designed with a complex floor plan that effortlessly linked two wings placed at oblique angles. Off the living room - the largest of three habitable rooms on the ground floor - was a large north-facing terrace for outdoor living and entertaining. Concealed from the front entrance, the staircase served four bedrooms and a bathroom on the first floor and continued up to a flat roof offering views of the Auckland Domain and the outer Waitemata Harbour. Gummer’s design of the interior detailing extended to scroll light fittings, fireplaces, kitchen cupboards and items of furniture. Reflecting some of Lutyens’ most characteristic and memorable interiors which often relied on whitewashed walls, or the texture of wood and stone - such as in the corridors of Castle Drogo - Stoneways’ interior was of similar simple effect.

The Gummer residence was a marked contrast to the architect’s earlier Auckland suburban residential commissions most of which were strongly Arts and Crafts-influenced and of timber construction. Like Tauroa, Stoneways was constructed using a reinforced concrete frame, plastered brick cavity infill walls and a flat roof illustrating structural principles not in universal use at the time. In 1926 the year of Stoneways’ construction, a book by Gummer’s partner Reginald Ford was published on earthquake-resistant architecture, the first work to highlight the danger of traditional English methods of construction in earthquake-prone New Zealand.

Gummer was one of a number of 1920s architects who created a reputation based on grand houses and even grander public buildings. Stoneways’ monumental grandness coincided with a demand amongst wealthy New Zealand businessmen and rural run-holders for new interpretations of the English mansion style as a means of conveying progress and status immediately after the First World War.

Subsequent modifications and use

Extensive gardens surrounding the house were integral to Stoneways’ design. Their development formed an ongoing project reflecting Gummer’s enjoyment of landscape development and construction. Suggesting an ongoing public interest in the property, a contemporary newspaper article showed construction of the front garden in progress. Stoneways was referred to as an example of modern domestic architecture, ‘a house which owed more to a rational acceptance of conditions, of site, climate and aspect than to tradition, although that and Georgian design was the origin of the inspiration’.

The garden design was based upon axes leading from the building, a technique Gummer used at the Auckland Domain Wintergardens built in three stages between 1916 and 1930. Stoneways’ grounds on sloping land at the rear were divided into a number of areas and levels. These were linked by paths enclosed by stone walls constructed from the site’s volcanic rock, possibly giving rise to the name Stoneways.

A formal lawn provided for social gatherings, including those of the Auckland Chamber Music Society (formed in 1930) of which Mrs Gummer was a life member. A number of those who gathered at outdoor concerts held at Stoneways were refugee musicians from Europe.

On the eastern side of the property a utilities area accommodating a washing line, a wood shed and a glasshouse was aligned with the service area of the house. At the rear were vegetable gardens and a grove of trees.

In 1928 Gummer and Ford were awarded a NZIA gold medal for the Remuera Library, followed by another in 1931 for the Auckland Railway Station. In 1930 Gummer - who had served with the Mounted Rifles during the First World War - won the competition to design the National War Memorial (1932), the National Art Gallery and Dominion Museum (1936) and the Hall of Memories (1964). His 1932 appointment as one of two honorary architects to the Waitangi Trust Board to restore the Treaty House (1833-4) as a symbol of nationhood further contributed to Gummer’s reputation, and his significance as architect to the nation.

Gummer and Ford’s most productive years ended with the onset of the Great Depression circa 1930 followed by the outbreak of the Second World War (1939-45). William Gummer held the office of president of the NZIA from 1933-4 and was later elected a life member. Although he remained essentially a traditionalist, Gummer joined an international trend towards modernism in the 1930s, designing in a style described as ‘moderate modernism’.

Comparatively early in the Gummers’ residence at Stoneways, the west-facing balcony of the main bedroom was enclosed in 1934 with metal framed windows containing geometrically patterned tracery. A low brick fence with a pair of half-width timber front gates was added along the garden frontage in 1937.

In 1940 Gummer designed a small, single-storey addition to Stoneways to accommodate a laundry and toilet. A pergola and carport were added to the property in 1952, five years before the Gummers sold to move to a house designed in 1954 for their retirement in Redoubt Road, Papatoetoe. The architectural practice, an important training ground for young architects including leading figures in the modernist movement in New Zealand such as Gordon Wilson, increasingly struggled to maintain its momentum in the post-war period. Upon the retirement of the firm’s founders in 1961, the architectural practice was continued by the three remaining partners C. Prior Hoadley, Ian Budge, and John Gummer. William Gummer died in 1966, aged 82.

In 1957 Stoneways was purchased by Terence Gresson, one of the youngest appointees to the Supreme Court. Gresson had earlier appeared as a counsel for Ballantynes at the 1947 inquiry into New Zealand’s worst fire; and for the defence of school girls Parker and Hulme convicted of murder in 1954. Following Gresson’s death in 1967, the property was subdivided into three to create two new rear lots. Stoneways occupied less than half of the original site area, but maintained its relationship to Mountain Road. The carport was replaced by a concrete block double garage in 1978, the year the glasshouse was removed.

In 1987 Stoneways appeared in Sir Banister Fletcher’s History of Architecture which included a section on architecture in Oceania for the first time. In an account of the development of architecture in New Zealand, Stoneways was noted for its Classical composition, picturesque crafted features and as the former residence of the prominent architect William Gummer. Classical attributes including the monumental character of the flat-roofed structure; a portico framing the front door; and a loggia contributed formality to the overall design. Arrangement of the building around a central entrance located on a diagonal axis lent the design an implied symmetry reinforced by the windows either side of the front entry and the use of tripartite fenestration on the upper storey.

By 1996 Stoneways’ basement contained a semi-self contained flat. The residence was described as containing five bedrooms including a master bedroom with sitting room; and a year later, as four bedrooms and a semi-self contained flat.

Stoneways remains in use as a private residence.

Physical Description

Context

Stoneways is situated in Epsom, an inner suburb of Auckland. Located to the southeast of Auckland’s main city centre, Epsom is a mainly residential area in which a number of recognised historic houses are located. Stoneways lies on the east side of Mountain Road, slightly to the south of a motorway overbridge. The east side of Mountain Road in the immediate vicinity consists of a mature streetscape of substantial circa 1920s residences and an early block of flats. The west side is occupied by Auckland Grammar School, a complex notable for its Spanish Mission style main block (Record no. 4471, Category I historic place); and for a War Memorial (Record no. 4472, Category I historic place) designed by William Gummer in 1921.

As well as noted nineteenth-century gentlemanly estate houses including Highwic (Record no. 18, Category I historic place), Clifton (Record no. 2623, Category I historic place), Marivare, Rockwood and Rocklands Hall (Record no. 7276, Category I historic place), a number of notable early twentieth century residences survive in the Epsom area. These include Ngahere (1907-8) and the circa 1914 Rannoch (Record nos. 4501 and 7198, Category II historic places); a Spanish Mission-style former janitor’s house (Record no. 4532, Category II historic place) constructed in 1914-15 in association with Auckland Grammar School completed in 1916; and the Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired Whare Tane built circa 1925-6.

Site Layout

The information in this and the following section of the report has been compiled from archival plans and images, a recent aerial image and street views from Google Earth.

Stoneways occupies an irregular, wedge-shaped lot of approximately 1200 square metres flanked by two rights of way. The house lies within the eastern part of the plot close to the side boundaries. A flat-roofed garage (1979) in the northeast corner to the rear of the house has access from the northern right of way. The front garden retains the rudiments of the original design through the maintenance of the building’s relationship to the street and surviving elements such as low brick walls and gate.

A low wall delineates the front garden and extends along the edge of the southern right of way. The wall across the front of the site is slightly set back from the legal boundary to provide for low, terraced garden beds. Access to the property is via a pair of low half-width timber gates, centrally located within a relatively narrow street frontage. The house is partially screened by trees, one on either side of the entrance within simple grounds.

Exterior

The two-storey house with basement is of an eclectic style, and is a solid, monumental structure with flat roof lines. The well-articulated composition of the numerous elevations, and changes in level, contribute to Stoneways’ significant aesthetic qualities.

An interesting angled façade with a portico located at the intersection of two wings extends towards the southwest boundary and partially encircles the front lawn. The sense of enclosure is enhanced by a single-storey, screened terrace with flat roof which extends north from the house.

The dwelling is constructed of concrete and rendered brick and has a terraced flat roof with simple rectangular chimneys. The roof parapet is relieved in places by lattice work. Stepped and recessed sections of the parapet reflect the complex composition of the building’s plain exterior walls, particularly on the southwest and east elevations. Timber shutters are part of the original design. Austere classical detailing is evident in the front entrance portico which has paired rectangular pilasters with squared tops, a simple cornice, and in the design of the loggia piers and those supporting the roof of a north-facing, first-floor balcony.

A strip of metal-framed windows with geometrical tracery encloses a former west-facing first floor balcony, an early alteration designed by Gummer. Elsewhere small window panes are arranged in sashes, casements and fanlights. Strip mouldings above openings accentuate the horizontal character of the elevations. A tall arch-shaped window in the southwest elevation lights a stair well, and is obliquely visible from the street. A single-storey laundry addition, designed by Gummer, is located at the southeast corner of the dwelling and extends to the right of way boundary. Garaging within the north section of the half-basement may retain timber doors with windows and metal strap hinges.

Interior

Due in part to its brick and concrete construction, Stoneways retains much of its original layout. Ground floor spaces include a living room and a dining room; service rooms; and two small interconnected halls. The first floor has a generous landing off which bedrooms and a bathroom are located.

In 1992 the house still had built-in furniture designed by Gummer: in an ante-room between the dining and living rooms; and in the dining room. The house also retained original joinery including doors, architraves, and panelling.

The entrance hall is located on a diagonal axis. Off the right side is the former den with a northwest facing bay overlooking the front garden. It is not known whether this room retains the fire place.

Off the left side of the entrance hall is a living room laid out on two axial lines to create a cross form. Concrete ceiling beams delineate the core rectangle of the space. A north-facing-terrace with partially enclosed sides is a natural extension of the room which has a fireplace on the south wall.

The ante-room within the southeast recess off the living room has a barrel-vaulted ceiling. A plain built-in timber cabinet containing drawers and shelving may survive.

The ante-room opens into a dining room orientated on an east-west axis. The dining room is lit by a shallow east-facing bay window. A built-in unit with a cupboard and drawer on either side of a fireplace, part of Gummer’s original design, were still in place in 1992. The fireplace may have survived concealed behind timber panelling.

To the south of the dining room, a servery linked to the kitchen was used as an office in the recent past. The kitchen opens into a passage leading to the laundry and rear yard. A door also opens from the kitchen into the stair hall. Off the south end of the stair hall, at a marginally lower level, is a lavatory with wash basin and modern fittings.

The ground floor of the stair hall has a curved wall with plaster-finish, as well as a timber panelled staircase and timber panelled walls. The doors of a coat cupboard have grilles with barley-twist timber turnings in lieu of door panels. Balusters of barley-twist style are found on a semi-circular section of the upper stair landing above the first floor.

As built, three of the four bedrooms opening off the irregularly-shaped first floor landing had a fireplace. Double doors open from the master bedroom onto a small north-facing, roofed balcony. The large west-facing terrace off the main bedroom is now enclosed. An east-facing balcony is accessed from the second bedroom (former nursery) off which was a sleeping alcove. The third bedroom occupies the west facing bay overlooking the front garden. A fourth (single) bedroom is located on the southeast corner of the first floor between the bathroom and staircase. The layout of the basement is not known.

Comparisons

Domestic residences designed by William Gummer

Fourteen houses are traditionally attributed to Gummer. These fall into three broad categories: suburban houses expressing an amalgam of Arts and Crafts and California bungalow influences; houses incorporating Baroque Revival and Stripped Classical stylistic elements; and antipodean Neo-Georgian.

Early domestic commissions designed by Gummer for Auckland clients while working with Hoggard, Prouse include the single-storey Cleave or Cotswalds House (Record no. 5440, Category I historic place), a well-preserved single-storey brick bungalow (1913-4) in Greenlane, described as the least representative of Gummer’s domestic architectural style.

The Abbott House, Marine Parade, Herne Bay; a house, at 27 Clifton Road and an adjacent cottage (29 Clifton Road), Takapuna for James Gunson, designed in 1913 are Arts and Crafts-influenced houses experimenting with ideas seen in the newly-designed ‘garden suburbs’ and country areas around London. All are of timber frame construction with timber weatherboard cladding and tiled roof and appear to have been significantly modified.

The sophisticated twin-gabled Champtaloup House (Record no. 510, Category II historic place) designed in 1914 in timber with a tile roof, illustrates a developing amalgam of the English and antipodean lifestyle. The Renner House (Record no. 2630, Category II historic place), Sarsfield Street, Herne Bay is a two-storey timber-clad dwelling with tile roof (1922) of similar style to timber houses designed by Gummer nearly a decade earlier.

Marire (Record no. 2586, Category II historic place), a three level brick house constructed in Epsom for Frank Winstone (1915) has a rotational plan centred around the staircase. Notwithstanding a single-storey addition and the extension of living rooms into a verandah, the place retains much of its internal layout and interior features. Elements such as the rotational floor plan were further developed at Tauroa and Stoneways.

Tauroa Homestead, Havelock North (Record no. 176, Category I historic place), completed in 1916 is the earliest of four well-known Gummer or Gummer and Ford-designed Hawke’s Bay residences. Notable for its monumental scale, complex plan and restrained simplicity, it is regarded as one New Zealand’s grandest twentieth-century homes. Its distinctive flat roof, reinforced concrete frame, pergola, balconies and lack of ornamentation reflect a design created for local conditions. Gummer’s flair for devising complex but lucid plans is illustrated by linked wings placed at oblique angles, a form also adopted at Stoneways a suburban derivation of the grander design. Inspired by Lutyens, the design for Tauroa was unique in New Zealand architecture and set Gummer apart from more conservative contemporaries.

Belmount/Belmont, Havelock North (Record no. 4412, Category I historic place) - originally known as Craggy Range - was constructed in 1918 with a reinforced concrete frame, first floor and roof. Anticipating the modern movement in New Zealand the design is said to express horizontality and calm in the composition of its elevations.

Arden House, Havelock North (Record no. 4410, Category I historic place) one of the first residences designed by the Gummer and Ford partnership, was constructed in 1925-6. Although structurally similar to Gummer’s two earlier Hawke’s Bay designs, the floor plan was more regular. Like the other two houses, the upstairs bedrooms reflected a distinct hierarchy. Used as a boarding house over the period between the 1940s and the late 1960s, Arden was converted to six flats in 1967 and was later renovated as boutique hotel. It has recently reverted to use as a private house.

Te Mata Homestead, Havelock North (Record no. 4409, Category I historic place) was evidently designed by Gummer and Ford in 1935. The residence was built on the footprint of an earlier house designed by local architect W. J. Rush in 1920 but destroyed by the Hawke’s Bay earthquake of 1931. The hipped-roofed structure is a comparatively conservative design illustrating an amalgam of the American Colonial Revival with English Arts and Crafts. As at Arden, the terraces and verandahs are less extensive than those at Tauroa, Craggy Range and Stoneways.

A three-level residence at 23 Glenfell Place, Epsom (1939) designed by the firm Gummer and Ford has a gabled roof and is described as of Mediterranean style. No longer attributed to Gummer, the design may be that of junior member of the firm, Geoffrey Rix-Trott, who has also been suggested as the possible designer of Te Mata Homestead.

The residence located at 390 Redoubt Road, Papatoetoe, was designed by Gummer in 1954 and after November 1957 became Mr and Mrs Gummer’s permanent home. The house is of asymmetrical plan and is still in family ownership.

Other Buildings

Hoggard, Prouse and Gummer (1913-21)

Major buildings designed during the Hoggard, Prouse and Gummer partnership in which Gummer was the principal designer include the New Zealand Insurance Company Building, Auckland (Record no 623, Category I historic place) constructed in 1914-18 and later known as the New Zealand Guardian Trust Building. The Stripped Classical form and structural innovation evident in this design and the State Fire Insurance Building, Wellington (1915), are said to have set new standards for commercial architecture in New Zealand.

Gummer and Ford (1923-61)

The architectural practice of Gummer and Ford was known for technically advanced work and some of New Zealand’s largest and most complex projects of the era.

While design and construction of Stoneways was underway, the practice worked on a number of commissions involving important commercial and public buildings. One of the smaller projects was the Grey Lynn Public Library, Auckland, (Record no. 584, Category II historic place) constructed in 1924. A notable commercial Auckland landmark was the Dilworth Building (Record no. 4600, Category I historic place) designed in a Stripped Classical style with strong Lutyens influences, erected in 1925-7. Neo-classical-style Pearson House, Parnell, Auckland (Record no. 4580, Category I historic place) publicly opened in 1926 providing a non-institutional environment for residents at the Royal New Zealand Foundation for the Blind. The Remuera Public Library (Record no. 115, Category I historic place) under construction in 1926, earned Gummer and Ford a NZIA Gold Medal in 1928 for its restrained classical design.

The firm was awarded a second NZIA gold medal, in 1931, for the Neo-classical-style Auckland Railway Station (Record no. 93, Category I historic place). Designed in 1926 and constructed 1927-30 the building was modelled on United States prototypes and represented a departure in monumental civic architecture in New Zealand.

Gummer won a 1930 competition to design the National War Memorial (1932), the National Art Gallery and Dominion Museum (1936) and the Hall of Memories (1964) (Record nos. 1410 and 1409, Category I historic places). Gummer, who served in Egypt during the First World War, had earlier designed a series of war memorials that demonstrated his ability to combine traditional architectural styles with restrained formal geometry. These included the Bridge of Remembrance at Christchurch, and the Dunedin Cenotaph both constructed in 1921, and the Auckland Grammar School War Memorial erected the following year (Record nos. 289, 2221 and 4472, Category I historic places). Gummer also designed the Massey Memorial (Record no. 222, Category I historic place) unveiled in Wellington in 1930 to commemorate William Fergusson Massey (1856-1925) Prime Minister of New Zealand (1911-25), a person of national historical significance. In 1932, Gummer was appointed to be an honorary architect to the Waitangi Trust Board as part of a programme to restore the Waitangi Treaty House (Record no 6, Category I historic place) as a symbol of nationhood.

The Auckland Domain Wintergardens (Record no 124, Category I historic place) was a notable civic amenity constructed in three stages between 1916 and 1930.

Significant commercial buildings of modern architectural style include the Dingwall Building, Auckland (Record no. 4584, Category II historic place) dating from 1935 adopting advanced structural technology that represented an important development in high rise architecture in New Zealand. The State Fire Insurance Office Building, Wellington (Record no. 231, Category I historic place) constructed in 1940 was one of the earliest major buildings in central Wellington to illustrate the influences of European modernism.

Construction Dates

Original Construction
1925 - 1926
Original construction: House and glasshouse.

Modification
1934 -
Enclosure of west balcony off master bedroom

Addition
1940 -
Addition: Laundry and toilet

Addition
1952 -
Pergola and carport

Modification
1978 -
Carport and glass house demolished and garage built on site of former carport

Construction Details

Plastered brick with reinforced concrete frame, concrete floors and roof.

Information Sources

Lloyd Jenkins, 2004

Douglas Lloyd Jenkins, At Home: A Century of New Zealand Design. Auckland: Random House, 2004

Shaw, 1991

Peter Shaw, New Zealand Architecture: From Polynesian Beginnings to 1990, Auckland, 1991

Thornton, 1996

Geoffrey Thornton, Cast in Concrete: Concrete Construction in New Zealand 1850-1939, Auckland, 1996

Bush, 2006

G.W.A Bush, (ed.), The History of Epsom, Auckland, 2006

Waite, 2005

Paul Waite, In the Beaux-Arts Tradition: William Gummer Architect, Napier, 2005

Keyes, 1917

Nann Keyes and Co., Modern Homes of New Zealand by Architects of Standing, Auckland, 1917

Stamp, 2001

Stamp, Gavin, Edwin Lutyens: Country Houses; From the Archives of Country Life, London, 2001

Other Information

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