Early history of the site
The house at 19 Collingwood Street is located on the upper slopes of the Auckland suburb of Freemans Bay. The bay, formerly known as Waiatarau, was a place traditionally used by Maori for settlement, fishing and trading. A pa at Te To on the western headland of the bay was occupied by Te Waiohua before the conquest of Tamaki-makau-rau by Ngati Whatua towards the mid eighteenth century. Te Paneiriiri on the eastern headland commemorates a later raid by Ngati Paoa. Following the formal foundation of Auckland as colonial capital in September 1840, Freemans Bay developed as an early industrial working-class suburb and supported enterprises including brickmaking, sawmilling and timber working on foreshore land and later reclamations.
The three lots adjacent to the north side of the Collingwood Street and Heke Street intersection were part of a substantial suburban residential subdivision undertaken on an 1859 Crown Grant. After changing hands several times, the three parcels were purchased in 1874 by Edward Drinkwater (1841?-1926) a french polisher. Either Drinkwater or one of his predecessors erected a brick building on one of the lots (probably that currently occupied by 17 Collingwood Street) prior to 1877.
Construction of the Drinkwater residence (1879)
It appears to have been several years before Drinkwater erected a timber residence for himself and his family at 19 Collingwood Street. Construction was financed by a £250 mortgage taken out in July 1879 and was completed by January 1880. The new residence was evidently the most expensive in its part of the street, being rated at approximately twice the value of adjoining buildings. Its creation coincided with Auckland's recovery from a colony-wide economic crisis and commencement of a five-year boom characterised by commercial development in the city centre and a surge in house-building on fringe suburbs including Freemans Bay and Ponsonby. Drinkwater also appears to have successively rebuilt or remodelled his older property in timber during the period 1878 to 1881. Probably located at 17 Collingwood Street, the latter was subsequently rented out.
Drinkwater's residence was a weatherboard-clad, single-bay villa of one and a half storeys with a slate or shingle roof. It occupied a west-facing site of over one and a half lots on the lower side of Collingwood Street, within the lower of the street's two blocks. A half-length verandah abutted a protruding front bay, and sheltered the centrally-located front door. A two-storey verandah overlooked the rear garden. Due to the generous land area, the dwelling enjoyed a slightly greater separation from neighbouring houses than the local norm. Constructed close to the front boundary, leaving a pocket-handkerchief-sized front garden and a generous back garden, the residence was part of a broader streetscape of houses hugging the public thoroughfare leaving a swathe of open space along the centre of the suburban blocks.
The single-bay villa was a recurring New Zealand house type by the 1880s, particularly in Auckland where many similar examples or variations of the form typified by Drinkwater's residence were built in streets such as Collingwood and Franklin Road in the wider Freemans Bay and Ponsonby area. The style with characteristic simple timberwork and minimal detailing was later to evolve into the more ornate double-bay villa form of the later 1880s and 1890s.
The Drinkwater house had much in common with plans in timber-company catalogues of the 1870s and bore some resemblance to the most elaborate of four designs offered as 'Cottages for Settlers' in Brett's Colonists' Guide (1883). Cottage No. 4, a two-storey dwelling with Gothic-style timber fretwork and a verandah with paired posts, was promoted as, 'a very showy and convenient class of house' with capacity for three rooms within its steep gabled roof. When room and appearance was of more importance than expense, a larger and more costly design could be built of like design. The type was apparently well known at the mills - making the timber easily procurable - although at the height of Auckland's construction boom sustained demand for timber had seriously depleted mill stocks in early 1882 as local builders competed for orders with Australian timber merchants.
The manufactured bay window unit on the flush bay of the Collingwood Street house was a popular contemporary feature seen as lending elegance to comparatively plain residences. The arrival of steam-powered wood-working machines in the colony just prior to the 1860s had ensured that mantelpieces, doors, sashes, mouldings and Gothic tracery could be purchased more economically than they could be made by hand.
Viewed from the street, the Drinkwater residence was effectively of single-storey design rather than the two-storeys illustrated in Brett's Colonists' Guide. The sloping site enabled additional rooms to be accommodated on a lower-ground floor. Although the house adopted the prominent picturesque gable end with Gothic-style timber fret work over the bay section, it had a hipped roof, the lower-ground floor rendering an attic superfluous. The two broad, red-brick chimneys with cream-coloured bricks at the corners, showed the rudiments of an emerging fashion for ornament in chimney design during the 1880s and 1890s. The mixing of architectural styles, seen in the combination of Gothic tracery on the gable and Classical detailing on the bay window of the house, was a common characteristic of the New Zealand villa from the 1860s until the end of the century.
Internally, the upper floor level consisted of three (or possibly four) bedrooms and a front parlour. Fireplaces were arranged back-to-back in the two adjacent front rooms on either side of the centrally located hall, a pattern repeated on the lower-ground floor. The bay window lit the parlour, the most formal room in the house. A simple staircase accessed the less formal lower-ground floor, which was at the heart of family life and domestic activity. Overlooking the garden was a large living room with timber dado; behind, a large internal washhouse with a fuel storage area for wood and coal. The front room on the north side was apparently the kitchen, behind which was an internal workshop.
Drinkwater's residence typified much of the upper working class and lower middle class suburban development constructed in Auckland during the economic boom of the early 1880s, and contrasted with both the more humble working class cottages such as 10 Bankside Street constructed 1883-4 (Record no. 4486, Category II historic place) in the central city and the grander urban villas such those built for wealthy professionals and merchants at 12 to 16 Symonds Street in 1884-5 (Record nos. 4488, 4489 and 4490, Category II historic places).
Subsequent use and alterations (1880-2009)
Notwithstanding the existence of an internal workshop with workbench, Drinkwater appears not to have formally operated a french polishing business from the Collingwood Street address. He may have preferred to work for furniture makers such as Winks and Hall, his employers in 1870. Between 1909 and 1915 Drinkwater and Sons, french polishers were in business at 87 Albert Street in Auckland's commercial centre.
Drinkwater and his family continued to occupy the house for more than two decades. Ornamental tree specimens including camellia and a magnolia were planted near the back verandah. A small shed located a short distance to the rear of the family dwelling, may have been built at the same time as, or shortly after, the house. Drinkwater's holding was mortgage free by the end of 1884.
By circa 1890 Collingwood Street's two blocks running from Ponsonby Road down to Wellington Street reflected the social hierarchy associated with higher real estate values further up the slope. On the east side of the street, the professions of those nearer the top of the Ponsonby Road ridge included a book binder, an accountant, a builder (subsequently replaced by an engineer) and the foreman of Harbour Board Works. Many of those in the lower block were - like Drinkwater - artisans, namely a tailor, a bootmaker, and a painter, although three of the properties were occupied by a gardener, a waterman and a clerk respectively.
In April 1903 Drinkwater sold 19 Collingwood Street to Roman Catholic Priest James Francis Patterson (1849?-1919). Patterson continued to live at his Takapuna residence, renting out the Freemans Bay dwelling. Almost two decades before, Father Patterson was the vanguard for introduction of the Society of St Joseph to New Zealand. Also known as the Mill Hill Fathers, the religious order was part of a British-based movement to spread Catholicism among indigenous peoples and the underprivileged, with missions in America (1871), India (1875), Pakistan (1876) and elsewhere. In 1884 Patterson had travelled from Australia to undertake reconnaissance for the potential founding of a Maori Mission, following Bishop Luck's concern that the 40,000 Maori Catholics of his Auckland Diocese were under the care of a sole missionary. The first two Mill Hill missionaries arrived in New Zealand two years later, in December 1886.
After his death in 1919 Patterson's housekeeper inherited the Collingwood Street property and sold shortly after, in 1922, to the wife of a fireman. The house, bought for £1000, was described as, '6-roomed, 2-storey at back, all large rooms, and exceptionally large back balcony, fireplaces in practically every room, gas throughout, range etc, wash-house copper and tubs under one roof'.
Unspecified works appear to have been undertaken in 1922, reflected in an amendment of the rateable value from £42 to £46. The work may have involved the addition of a casement window and removal of the coal range in the kitchen. A washing stove (Methven Junior, No. 20, manufactured by the Dunedin iron and brass foundry G. Methven and Co. founded in 1886) may have been installed in the washhouse at this time or at an earlier date, and was of a type in wide use in 1913.
In 1939, the house was sold to a married woman who was apparently a devout Salvationist. During the 1940s, an era which saw many of the dwellings near the fringe of the city's commercial centre divided up for rental, the residence became two households. The downstairs tenancy with a separate entrance evidently consisted of a combined living room and kitchen, and one bedroom. The owner occupied the upstairs tenancy which comprised three bedrooms, the parlour, and a tiny kitchen installed in the north end of the rear balcony. The downstairs bathroom and lavatory were shared facilities. In 1960 the south end of the upstairs verandah was enclosed to accommodate a lavatory. The date of demolition of the dwelling's associated outbuilding is not known.
The property changed hands in 1979. The house was re-piled and a carport constructed at the north end of the frontage. A pipe and mesh fence along the front boundary was replaced by a timber picket fence. Contemporary modifications, involving relocation of kitchen and dining accommodation to the upper floor and the provision of modern bathroom and laundry facilities on the lower floor, did not enlarge the 1879 building form. The earlier makeshift kitchen and toilet within the upper verandah were reversed and a lavatory in the ground floor verandah was converted to a tool shed. A sash window was added to the north wall of the dining room (former master bedroom). The wall on one side of the chimneybreast was removed to provide direct access to the kitchen (former bedroom). A fireplace was reinstated in the parlour, replacing a comparatively modern wood burner.
On the lower ground floor, a sash window replaced a circa 1920s casement window in the study (former kitchen). A sash window was added to the south wall of the bedroom (former living room). The laundry copper and wash tubs were removed and the space partitioned as a laundry, a bathroom, and a lavatory which necessitated the addition of a small window in the south wall. The reorganised workshop space accommodated the relocated portable washing stove, and a new opening from an internal storeroom into the former coal cellar and remnant washhouse area.
No further alterations have been made since the circa 1980 works three decades ago. The house remains in private residential use.
The house at 19 Collingwood Street is located on the upper slopes of Freemans Bay, one block away from the retail and social centre of Ponsonby Road a thoroughfare known for the character of its built heritage. The now fully reclaimed Freemans Bay is an inner suburb immediately to the west of Auckland's CBD and is occupied by a mix of business premises, apartments and restored cottages. The west side of Collingwood Street and some surrounding blocks retain much nineteenth-century housing stock including dwellings of the popular single-bay villa style. Residential development on the east side of Collingwood Street is of more variable age, style and density, particularly nearer Wellington Street which was the subject of nineteen sixties and seventies slum clearance and redevelopment.
There are a number of historic structures in the lower Freemans Bay vicinity. These include the former Freeman's Hotel and the former Auckland Municipal Destructor and Depot (Record no. 7664, Category I historic place) in Drake Street; the Birdcage Tavern in Franklin Road and the former Campbell Free Kindergarten (Record no. 7537, Category I historic place) in Victoria Street West. The landmark nineteenth-century Gothic Revival style St John's Methodist Church (Record 643, Category II historic place) stands on the Ponsonby Road Ridge, a short distance to the north of Collingwood Street.
The house at 19 Collingwood Street occupies a west-facing, sloping site on the north side of the Ponsonby ridge. The dwelling stands close to the front boundary behind a picket fence that has two gates. A carport occupies a concrete pad adjoining the road, but does not obscure the front of the house. The large back garden, in which a magnolia and two camellias of considerable age are located, is accessed via steps and a concrete-paved path along the north side of the house. The garden otherwise consists of planted beds retained by railway sleepers, and a sloping back lawn.
The dwelling is a single-bay villa, a common house style in the Freemans Bay and Ponsonby area. Small variations in the detailing of almost identical examples in the immediate vicinity are evident in the roof form, the presence or absence of decorative fretwork, the number of storeys (depending on site slope), the adoption of manufactured bay windows on the flat fronted bay, and the extent of detailing on the bay window.
Main building - exterior
The dwelling at 19 Collingwood Street is a comparatively little-altered, single-bay villa, the front and rear elevations of which remain largely as built in 1879. Some windows in the side walls have been added. The building is entirely contained within its original roof form and footprint, and retains its brick chimneys. The roof is corrugated metal.
Sitting on a sloping site, the building is of single-storey height at the front and two storeys at the rear.
The single-storey front elevation is clad with rusticated weatherboards. A half-length timber verandah shelters a two-pane, double hung sash window and a centrally-located front entrance. Located to the right of the entrance, a protruding square bay has a gable end decorated with timber fretwork tracery (in lieu of barge boards), and a finial. It incorporates an Italianate-style bay window with a flared rooflet of pan iron.
The weatherboards on the less-visible side and rear walls butt solid angle stops. The north elevation has two sash windows on the upper floor, one a circa 1980 addition (dining room), and two windows and low external door on the lower floor. The easternmost sash window on the lower floor replaced an early-twentieth century casement window. A surviving original timber foundation pile is visible adjoining the path.
The rear elevation is sheltered by a two-storey verandah overlooking the rear garden and is little altered. At upper floor level a sash window has been replaced and a narrow door added to open from the kitchen (former bedroom) to the verandah. At the south end of the verandah is a screen with coloured glass which is an original feature, as is the centrally located door.
The arch-shaped window on the south wall lights the bathroom (former washhouse) and is an original feature. A sash window in the lower floor bedroom (former living room) and a four-pane casement are circa 1980 additions as is a narrow casement with fanlight in a toilet on the upper floor.
The lower portions of two walls adjoining a bank are of brick, only evident from the interior.
Main building - interior
Much of the dwelling's original layout and detailing survives. The front door opens into a central hall running the length of the upper floor, to the rear verandah. The upper floor accommodates five rooms: the original parlour, a bedroom, and a utility room with lavatory cubicle (former bedroom) off the south side of the hall. Off the north side are an interconnecting dining room and a kitchen. Surviving joinery includes timber board and batten ceilings, skirtings, doors, architraves, and a timber dado. The lower floor accommodates the main bedroom; and a laundry, bathroom, and toilet (former washhouse) off the south side of the hall. Off the north side of the hall are a study and a workshop.
The functions of some rooms on the two floors differ from the original arrangement. The kitchen and dining room occupy two former bedrooms on the upper floor, while the former kitchen and the living room on the lower ground floor are now a study and bedroom respectively.
The front room with a bay window maintains its original use as the parlour. The open fireplace with basket grate is comparatively recent. The brickwork of the chimneybreast has been exposed and sandblasted. The middle bedroom retains its original cast iron fireplace, grate and concrete hearth. The timber fire surround with mantelpiece is of a simple design characteristic of the period. A built-in wardrobe with drawer below is also believed to be an original feature. The rear room (former bedroom) has been partitioned into a toilet and utility space with storage cupboards.
Off the north side of the hall the dining room (former front bedroom) retains its cast iron fireplace, grate and mantelpiece. The wall north of the chimney breast has been removed to provide direct access to the kitchen (former bedroom) behind. A timber dado, an original feature, has been extended across the old fireplace in the current kitchen.
The hall space has a simple arch supported on timber corbels. The upper section of the door onto the verandah has etched glass of two different designs and coloured margins, and is an original feature. The banister and the orb on each of the two newel posts of the internal staircase have a dark patina. The timber balustrade on the upper level has lathed balusters while those on the lower floor are of rectangular profile.
The walls of the hall and other rooms have horizontal timber board lining. There is a small cupboard under the stair. The study (former kitchen) on the north side of the hall has a blocked-off brick fireplace of circa 1920s - 1940s date. The bedroom (former living room) on the south side of the hall has a surviving timber dado and horizontal boards above. A cast iron fireplace with a timber mantelpiece and surround is not functional. Wardrobes have latterly been built in on either side of the chimneybreast.
Off the south end of the hall a separate toilet, bathroom and an open-plan laundry area occupy most of the former washhouse. A former brick fireplace is divided into two by a modern partition wall. Like the two front rooms, the rear space retains its board and batten timber ceiling.
The rear portion of the former washhouse containing a former fuel storage area has brick walls and is now accessed via an internal storeroom from the workshop. A portable washing stove (Methven Junior No. 20) has been relocated from the former washhouse into the workshop chimney space. A built-in timber workbench appears to be of considerable age. The concrete floor in the workshop is not an original feature and concrete slabs lining the north wall below the window were added after 1978. The workshop lacks a lined ceiling, which leaves the joists and flooring timber of the upper floor exposed to view.
The carport was not inspected.
Unspecified, possibly lower-ground floor kitchen (removal of coal range, casement window added north wall)
Division of house into two flats, cooking facilities provided in upstairs verandah
Toilet provided in upstairs verandah
1979 - 1980
Cooking and toilet facilities removed from upper verandah; fireplace reinstated in parlour; two bedrooms converted to kitchen and dining, toilet provided (upper floor)
1979 - 1980
bathroom, toilet and laundry provided in former ground floor washhouse; ground floor kitchen and living rooms converted to study and bedroom
Concrete piles, timber frame construction and cladding, corrugated metal roof, brick chimneys
24th March 2010
Report Written By
Martin Hill, Restoring with Style, Wellington, 1985.
Jeremy Salmond, Old New Zealand Houses 1800-1940, Auckland, 1986, Reed Methuen
E.R. Simmons, In Cruce Salus: A History of the Diocese of Auckland 1844-1980, Auckland, 1982
R. C. J. Stone, Makers of Fortune: A Colonial Business Community and its Fall, Auckland, 1973
Thomson W Leys, Brett's Colonists' Guide and Cyclopedia of Useful Knowledge, Auckland, 1883
W Tuerlings, Mill Hill and Maori Mission, Auckland, 2003
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.