Historical Significance or Value
The place has historical significance for its strong connections with Albert Goldwater, a founding member of several early swimming organisations in New Zealand including the Auckland Swimming Club, the New Zealand Amateur Swimming Association, and the New Zealand Amateur Swimming Association Registered. Through its associations with Goldwater, the place reflects Devonport’s role as a significant recreational and sporting centre.
Aesthetic Significance or Value
The place has aesthetic significance for its visual appearance, which encompasses an ornate villa and well-presented grounds. The aesthetic value of the place is enhanced by its location in a residential street which contains many well-preserved timber villas of similar date. The main residence is aesthetically significant for features that include its extensive decorative joinery and elegant brick chimneys. The house is also of value for aspects of its interior décor, such as papier-mâché dados of Art Nouveau design; fireplace surrounds; and stained glass windows.
Architectural Significance or Value
The place has architectural significance for incorporating a noted example of a well-preserved bay villa. The house has been considered to be one of the finest late villas in the former borough of Devonport, which is itself known for its well-preserved late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century buildings. The design of the place bears comparison with residences of similar date that are known to have been created by the architect Arthur Lewitt Ferneyhough. Ferneyhough has been considered a major designer in Auckland of elaborate transitional bay villas.
Social Significance or Value
The place has social significance as a comparatively well-preserved, early twentieth-century family home, which incorporates some uncommon surviving features that demonstrate aspects of daily life from this era. These include a claw-foot metal bath and brass gas lamp fittings.
a) The extent to which the place reflects important or representative aspects of New Zealand history
The place reflects Devonport’s development as a genteel residential suburb and recreational resort in the early twentieth century. It particularly demonstrates the construction of family houses within the suburb by city gentlemen, at a remove from their places of work in Auckland. Through its construction and occupation by Albert Goldwater, the place also reflects Devonport’s role as a significant recreational resort and sporting centre, where swimming was a popular outdoors activity.
(b) The association of the place with events, persons, or ideas of importance in New Zealand history
The place has close associations with Albert Goldwater, a contributor to the development of amateur swimming in late nineteenth-century New Zealand. It also has connections with the Dervan family, who are noted for their contribution to the social life of Freemans Bay, Auckland, through their ownership and running of the Freemans Bay Hotel for many decades.
(g) The technical accomplishment or value, or design of the place
The place is considered to be one of the finest late villas in the fomer borough of Devonport, and a well-preserved example of a corner-angle bay villa. It exhibits a wide variety of architectural features and finishes used in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
(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 an important historical landscape in Devonport, which incorporates a wide variety of surviving late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century buildings and other cultural remains. It particularly forms part of an important cultural landscape on and in the vicinity of North Head - Takapuna, considered to be arguably the most significant of all New Zealand's historic coastal defences. Other notable residential structures in the nearby area include houses at 5, 15 and 17 Jubilee Avenue.
Summary of Significance or Values
This place was assessed against, and found it to qualify under the following criteria: a, b, g, k.
It is considered that this place qualifies as a Category II historic place.
Early history of the site
The northern shores of the Waitemata Harbour are of significance to several iwi, having been explored and occupied since early human arrival in New Zealand. According to oral tradition, the Arawa canoe under the navigator chief Tama Te Kapua investigated the Waitemata. The Tainui canoe also landed at Te Hau Kapua (Torpedo Bay) in present-day Devonport before travelling to its eventual heartland in the Waikato.
People are already said to have been living at Te Hau Kapua at the time that the Tainui canoe visited. Physical evidence of very early settlement has been found on the foreshore where adzes were manufactured on stone working floors. Recorded horticultural features in the Maunga Uika (North Head), Takarunga (Mt Victoria) and Takararo (Mt Cambria) vicinity, and evidence of terraces, pits and midden, indicate that Maori occupied the volcanic cones in later times. The beach at Te Hau Kapua was the site of a late eighteenth-century battle when a Ngapuhi, Te Kawerau and Te Parawhau alliance raided the Ngati Paoa pa, Takapuna, now known as North Head.
Following Ngapuhi incursions in the 1820s, much of the North Shore was depopulated, assisting its purchase by the British Crown after formal colonisation in 1840. A small Maori settlement at Te Hau Kapua remained until 1863.
Devonport emerged as a colonial settlement with its use as a British naval station from the 1840s. Crown land in the area was subdivided into suburban farms in 1850 and subsequently offered for sale. Although Devonport was subject to speculation and land subdivision in the 1860s, large-scale development emerged primarily during the economic boom of the 1870s and 1880s. With the establishment of good quality ferry services to and from Auckland, Devonport became a well-established residential suburb and significant seaside resort.
The site on which Goldwater House was constructed lay within Allotment 12A, which was issued as a Crown Grant in 1868. In contrast to land on the western side of Cheltenham Road, which was advertised for sale as small suburban plots in 1866, Allotment 12A remained unsubdivided until the 1880s. By 1905, the southern part of Allotment 12A incorporated a large residence with extensive grounds that contained a fountain, an orchard, vineries, a dairy and a washhouse. At this time, Cheltenham Road was considered to be one of the main residential streets in Devonport, which were collectively said to be ‘occupied chiefly by the families of city men who have made their homes there, as being entirely removed and differing in aspect from the scene of their labours.’
In December 1905, the southern part of the site measuring 60 x 125 feet (18.3 x 38 metres) was bought by Adelia Goldwater, wife of Albert Goldwater, solicitor, for the construction of a family home. A permit for the erection of a building had been previously issued in September of the same year. Albert Goldwater was a partner in the legal firm of Calder and Goldwater, which operated from offices in the Victoria Arcade in central Auckland. In 1897 he had married Adelia Dervan, and by 1905 the couple had several young children. In March 1906, a mortgage for £650 was officially registered against their property, possibly to pay for the construction of a house.
Construction of Goldwater House (1906)
The Goldwaters erected a comparatively large and ornate timber house, later considered to be one of the finest late villas in Devonport. It is likely to have been built by 1907, when the family is recorded in street directories and rates books as occupying the property. In July 1907 the Goldwaters also purchased land immediately to the north of the house which was used to form a side garden. The choice of site may have been influenced not only by the residential character of the immediate neighbourhood, but also its proximity to Cheltenham Beach and the Devonport Domain - both notable as recreational and sporting destinations by the early 1900s. Aside from his professional career, Albert Goldwater was a noted amateur sportsman who was a founding member of several significant swimming organisations in New Zealand.
Born in 1869, Goldwater was educated at St George’s Grammar School, Thames but learnt to swim in the Salt Water Baths in Customs Street, Auckland at the age of twelve. In 1888, he helped to found the Auckland Swimming Club, said to have been the third swimming club listed in New Zealand after those at Christchurch (1880) and Hamilton (1881) - although other early clubs, some possibly short-lived, are known. Goldwater was present at the inaugural meeting of the Auckland Swimming Club in October 1888, and was elected a committee member. By the following year, he was honorary treasurer of the organisation and also a committee member of the Auckland Amateur Athletic and Cycling Club. During the next few years, he took part in numerous sports in the tradition of the Victorian amateur gentleman, including swimming, water polo, the one mile walk, and rugby. During this period, New Zealand sport was predominantly urban-based and amateur, with its representatives primarily of a social background that allowed them the time and resources to take part.
In December 1889 Goldwater was one of six individuals who met to discuss the creation of a national swimming organisation, the New Zealand Amateur Swimming Association (NZASA), which was formally constituted in the following year. This occurred just four years after the Amateur Swimming Association had been established in England, and before national swimming organisations had been set up either in Australia or the United States of America. Goldwater participated in the gala that accompanied the first national championship event, which was held at Calliope Dock, Devonport, in January 1890 in front of more than 10,000 spectators as part of the colony’s jubilee celebrations. In 1898 following a split with associations from the South Island, Goldwater helped to found a rival organisation to the NZASA, the New Zealand Amateur Swimming Association Registered, and was a vice-president when discussions were being held to resolve the schism between the two bodies - resolved with amalgamation in 1904.
The Goldwaters’ new residence was erected as a single-storey timber villa of corner-angle bay type. Its design incorporated a return verandah on parts of its north and west elevations, looking out in the direction of Cheltenham Beach. Of ornate external appearance, the building encompassed a considerable amount of decorative detailing, including fretwork, turned verandah posts, balusters and finials; and fancy shingling on its gable ends. Its several brick chimneys were of tall, elegant type.
Internally, the building encompassed several bedrooms, a front parlour or lounge, and a dining room with an elaborate fireplace surround. Service rooms at the rear evidently included a kitchen, pantry, bathroom, laundry and lavatory. The latter was accessed via an outside door. Other rooms were reached from a central hallway, or a connecting side hall which also led to a side verandah towards the back of the house.
Internal décor included a papier-mâché dado of Art Nouveau design in the main hall. An elaborate fireplace surround in the dining room is said to be identical to an example in the Freemans Bay Hotel in Auckland, which had been established by Adelia Goldwater’s father Michael Dervan, and was run by her mother Winifred from 1898. The bathroom is believed to have contained a large, metal bath from the outset. Rooms also evidently contained gas lighting.
The bay villa style is said to have reached the peak of its popularity between 1895 and 1910. Many such structures were of ornate design, employing mass-produced joinery produced in local mills such as that of the Kauri Timber Company in central Auckland.
The architect of the Goldwater House is unknown, although the design has been attributed to Arthur Lewitt Ferneyhough (1872-1936) on the basis of visual similarities with known examples of his work. A plain frieze around the exterior of the house is also a feature of Ferneyhough’s designs at both Trentham (1906-7) in St Marys Bay and Florence Court (circa 1907) in Epsom. Goldwater House and Trentham similarly share the same chimney design; use of narrow weatherboards; distinctive stained glass windows with geometric lights; and ornate Eastlake-style brackets. Practising on his own account from circa 1899, Ferneyhough had previously served his articles with the prominent Devonport-based architect, Edward Bartley; and subsequently became known predominantly for his residential designs.
Following completion of the residence, the Goldwaters participated in the social life of the area. In March 1909, a wedding breakfast was held at the house for a bridal party that had attended the marriage of P.J. Hackett and Margaret Donovan at All Souls’ Church, Devonport. In 1913, Adelia Goldwater also gave a ‘Kitchen Tea’ in the ‘pretty new kiosk at Cheltenham Beach’. Albert Goldwater retained some involvement in local swimming activities: in 1914, he was evidently auditor to the recently-formed Cheltenham Swimming Club, which is said to have been based at the opposite end of Cheltenham Beach from the older North Shore Amateur Swimming Club (1897). In 1923, the two clubs merged to form the Devonport Amateur Swimming Club. Goldwater’s sporting involvements also extended to lawn bowls, winning the Whole Day Pairs Tournament at Devonport in 1914.
Following C.M. Calder’s retirement in 1919, Goldwater continued to practise as a solicitor and had an office in the South British Insurance Buildings by 1932. In 1939, a garage was erected in the northwest corner of the property by the builder C.J. Peacock.
Adelia Goldwater died in 1943, followed by Albert Goldwater in 1948.
Conversion into two flats (1948) and reconversion to a single residence (circa 1984-6)
Following Albert Goldwater’s death, the property passed to his children, Bernard Eugene Goldwater solicitor, Winifred Mourya Pickthall widow, and Philip Charles and Dervan Albert James Goldwater hotelkeepers. In March 1948, an application was made to convert the house into two flats. The front flat was to be the smaller dwelling, encompassing the former lounge, two front bedrooms and a box room. One of the bedrooms was converted into a kitchen, and part of the box room made into a shower room. The rear flat was to retain three bedrooms, a dining room, kitchen, bathroom, inside toilet, pantry and laundry. Internal access between the two parts of the house was to be blocked.
During the following decade, the flats were occupied by residents of possible Eastern European background. From the early 1960s onwards, the two flats were respectively occupied by two of Albert and Adelia Goldwater’s sons, Philip and Dervan Goldwater. The brothers had previously been involved in running the Freemans Bay Hotel in Auckland, which had been erected by Adelia Goldwater’s parents in 1886. In the early 1980s, the rear residence continued to be occupied by a member of the Goldwater family, while the front part was lived in by a housekeeper.
In 1984, new owners purchased the property and re-converted it to a single residence and family home. Most of the 1940s modifications were reversed. Additional alterations included removing some internal walls in the northeast part of the house to create a large kitchen. New apertures have also been created to the side verandah. Pre-1948 corner steps to the front verandah were re-created using turned posts that had been stored beneath the sub-floor of the building. Brass gas lamp fittings found in the attic were also reinstated in some rooms.
Since its reconversion to a single dwelling, the villa has featured in publications on New Zealand’s architectural history, particularly in relation to its exterior and interior decor. In an article on Devonport architecture published in 1986, the house was referred to by architect Jeremy Salmond as ‘one of the finest late villas in the borough’, with particular mention made of its ‘carefully fretworked brackets in gables, under sunhoods and on the verandah.’ Another study referred to its well-preserved interior, including its fireplaces and papier-mâché wall dado. In 1992, the house featured on the front cover of Di Stewart’s history of the bay villa, The New Zealand Villa: Past and Present, and was referred to elsewhere in the same publication as ‘a mature corner angle bay villa with all the decorative elements intact.’
The property remains in private ownership.
Goldwater House (Former) is located in Devonport, a residential suburb on Auckland’s North Shore. The suburb is surrounded by the Waitemata Harbour to its east, south and west, and is noted both for its picturesque, waterfront setting and for its well-preserved heritage, which includes a large number of nineteenth- and early twentieth-century buildings, and other cultural remnants.
Goldwater House is situated in the eastern part of Devonport, at the foot of North Head - Takapuna, a distinctive volcanic hill overlooking the entrance to the inner Waitemata. The hill may incorporate the physical remains of Maori occupation, and also contains the well-preserved remnants of a nineteenth-century fortification known as Fort Cautley as well as later features linked with ongoing military occupation in the early 1900s and during the Second World War (NZHPT Register No. 7005, Category I historic place). North Head / Takapuna has been described as arguably the most significant of all New Zealand's historic coastal defences.
Goldwater House lies within an area of largely nineteenth- and early twentieth-century residential housing between Torpedo Bay to the south and Cheltenham Beach to the north. The house occupies a position on the eastern side of Cheltenham Road, a thoroughfare which links the two waterfronts. Other notable dwellings in the neighbourhood include houses at 5, 15 and 17 Jubilee Avenue. The Torpedo Bay foreshore contains a number of archaeological sites including nineteenth-century shipyards and a timber mill. It also incorporates recognised historic structures such as the Watson Memorial (NZHPT Register No. 4517, Category II historic place). The northern end of Cheltenham Beach is occupied by Fort Takapuna - O Peretu, another important military fortification (NZHPT Register No. 86, Category I historic place) and also an area of ancient historic, cultural and spiritual significance (NZHPT Record No. 7321, wahi tapu area).
A number of other historic places have been formally recognised through NZHPT registration in Devonport, including the Holy Trinity Church (Anglican) (NZHPT Register No. 504, Category II historic place) constructed in the early 1880s. Others in or near Victoria Road, the suburb’s main commercial thoroughfare, include the Esplanade Hotel (NZHPT Register No. 4481, Category I historic place), the Victoria Theatre (NZHPT Register No. 7712, Category I historic place), and the former Bank of New Zealand (NZHPT Register No. 4511, Category II historic place); and a number of commemorative monuments including the First World War Memorial (NZHPT Register No. 4515, Category II historic place), the Alison Clock (NZHPT Register No. 4513, Category II historic place); and the Coronation Sea Wall (NZHPT Register No. 4516, Category II historic place).
The site is approximately rectangular in plan, and occupies flat ground. The property encompasses a large, single-storey timber villa in its southern part that is slightly set back from Cheltenham Road, and a separate garage fronting the street in its north-west corner.
Gardens to the north and east of the villa are lawned, with traces of a large, sunken curvilinear area in the lawn to the north of the main house. This feature is said to pre-date a dwelling immediately to the north, and may have been created as part of the grounds of a large property from which the Goldwater House site was subdivided in 1905. The current garden contains several mature trees and an ornamental brick pavement which connects the main house with entrance gates on Cheltenham Road. A small rear yard is asphalted. Parts of an earlier, vertical plank fence survive in the hedge that forms the eastern boundary of the property.
The house consists of a large single-storey villa of corner-angle bay type. It is timber-built with narrow weatherboard cladding, a corrugated iron roof and elegant brick chimneys. Of ornate design, it incorporates projecting gables at the southern end of its west elevation, at its northwest corner, and midway along its northern side. These elements are connected by a return verandah at the front of the building. A smaller, side verandah towards the back of the house occupies the elevation to the east of the central north gable.
The main west and north elevations contain a comparatively high level of ornamentation. Decorative elements in the gables include fancy shingling, fretwork and central finials. The verandahs incorporate turned posts, balustrades, and brackets of Eastlake type. Plainer, internal brackets just below eaves level on the inner lining of both verandahs within the building are believed to represent the settings for verandah blinds. An original door connecting the dining room to the verandah contains a stained glass window with large lights of linear, geometrical design. Other stained glass windows are of similar type, notably fanlights above the sash windows to the front bedroom. Some windows also incorporate turned posts with capitals in their surrounds.
A plain frieze exists at the top of each elevation, just below the projecting eaves. The brick chimneys are comparatively tall and slender, and have distinctive corbelled tops.
Internally, the building is comparatively well-preserved with modifications to its layout mostly restricted to the current kitchen area in the northeast corner of the building. Other changes have included the reinstatement of features removed in the 1940s, and the modernisation of areas such as the former kitchen and laundry.
The house incorporates a central hallway which provides access to numerous flanking rooms and a bathroom at its eastern end. Architraves around the doorways to these rooms incorporate roundels in their upper corners. The rear half of the hall retains a papier-mâché dado of Art Nouveau design. A bracketed screen that supports the archway conceptually separating the front and the back parts of the hall was added during restoration work in the 1980s.
The main reception rooms are located to the north of the hall, including the former parlour or lounge which is situated adjacent to the front door. This space contains a sash window in its northwest corner that can be converted for use as an informal entrance onto the verandah by opening narrow double doors beneath the window frame. The ceiling of this room is reported to be lined with canvas. Applied decoration includes a pressed metal ceiling rose and ornamental battens. A large dining room next to the lounge contains a tall, elaborate fireplace surround that is reputed to be similar to an example in the Freemans Bay Hotel – which was owned by Adelia Goldwater’s parents. Like most other rooms in the house, it has board and batten ceilings, and a central ceiling rose.
Bedrooms to the south of the hall include two with back-to-back fireplaces. A corner fireplace in the front bedroom that was made of Huntly brick has been removed. The former kitchen on the side of the hall at its eastern end retains its large, brick chimneybreast and stack. A door from this space to the former pantry has been blocked off. A bathroom at the eastern end of the hall retains a metal bath of claw-foot design, believed to be an early feature. Brass gas lamp fittings, found in the attic during renovation work in the 1980s, have been reinstated in some rooms.
The former side hall, two bedrooms and a lavatory have been converted into a large kitchen area with access to the side verandah at the rear of the building. Access to this space from the main hall is via the former arched entrance to the side hall, which incorporates ornamental brackets. Some modifications to the window and door arrangements to the exterior have been made in this area. A doorway linking the side verandah to the dining room has also been inserted.
The garage is a small, single-storey structure with timber-frame walls clad with what may be original corrugated iron. Its roof is also covered with corrugated metal. The building’s main double doors open to Cheltenham Road, and it also contains a door and window in its south wall that retain what appear to be original fittings. The floor is concrete. A more recent lean-to has been attached to the rear.
Conversion of house into two flats: blocking in hall, and conversion of a bedroom and box room to a kitchen and a shower room. Corner steps to verandah replaced by concrete staircase in front of the main door.
1984 - 1986
Re-conversion to a single dwelling: reversal of circa 1948 alterations; and removal of a side hall, two bedrooms and lavatory to create a large kitchen in the northeast corner of the building.
House: Timber with corrugated metal roofing
Garage: Timber frame with corrugated metal cladding
29th March 2012
Report Written By
Sydney Musgrove (ed), The Hundred of Devonport: A Centennial History, Devonport, 1986.
Di Stewart, The New Zealand Villa Past and Present, Auckland, 1992
Auckland Council, Takapuna Service Centre
Auckland Council, Takapuna Service Centre
Property File, 26 Cheltenham Road, Devonport
Brown and Williams 1965
Brown, Doreen and Evan H. Williams, New Zealand Amateur Swimming Association Inc.75th Anniversary 1890-1965: A Short History, [n.p.], 1965
New Zealand Swimming Federation Inc 1990
New Zealand Swimming Federation Inc., New Zealand Swimming Federation Centennial 1890-1990, Christchurch, 
Williams, Norma, Auckland Swimming Association Centenary 1906-2006, [Auckland, 2006]
A fully referenced report is available from the Northern Region office of NZHPT.
This place has been identified as being included in the Auckland Council’s Cultural Heritage Inventory as CHI Places no. 2424, ’House, 26 Cheltenham Road, Devonport’.
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.