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 after first arriving at Maketu. The canoe deposited a ritual obsidian core brought from Hawaiki on Te Mata (Boat Rock), an island to the west of Chelsea Bay, giving rise to the name of the Waitemata Harbour. The Tainui canoe also landed at Te Hau Kapua (Torpedo Bay) in present-day Devonport before travelling to its eventual heartland in the Waikato.
Oral traditions relate that people were already living at Te Hau Kapua, when the Tainui canoe made its visit. Physical evidence of very early settlement has been found on the foreshore where adzes were manufactured, and the Devonport area including volcanic cones was occupied by Maori in later times. Recorded archaeological sites at Ngataringa Bay, Stanley Bay and the west Devonport foreshore include middens and oven stones. 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 inhabited until 1863.
Early colonial land division
Devonport emerged as a colonial settlement with its use as a British naval port in the 1840s. Crown land in the area was subdivided into suburban farms in 1850 and went on sale in 1853. Land within the Stanley Bay / Devonport area a short distance across from the colonial capital, Auckland was particularly sought after by investors and speculators. Among the purchasers were prominent government officials.
The site on which the Inglis house was constructed lay within a two-hectare suburban farm holding purchased from the Crown by Lieutenant Governor Robert Henry Wynyard (1801-64) the commander of forces in New Zealand (1851-8) and acting Governor of the colony (1854-5). 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.
Wynyard’s son, Robert McDonnell Wynyard (1841?-1901) an Epsom farmer, had the property surveyed in 1880. Lots 9 and 10 were purchased jointly by local butcher Ewen William Alison (1852-1945); and a property investor later bought out by Alison’s brother, Alexander, in 1884. As the founders and driving force behind the Devonport Steam Ferry Company floated in 1881, the Alison brothers were two of several promoters and directors with considerable real estate interests in the suburb the ferry venture was designed to serve.
In the early 1880s Devonport increasingly became a seaside suburb of commuting businessmen and lesser lights of the Auckland commercial community, as residences were built within easy travelling distance of city’s commercial centre. The Alisons marketed Lots 9 and 10 in 1884 as part of their Calliope Dock Estate centred on Dock (now Huia) Street. Much of Auckland’s early 1880s suburban real estate boom targeted speculative investors. In 1885, at the outset of an economic depression that ended in the early 1890s, local builder Robert Bartley (1854-1913) bought Lots 5 and 8 facing Calliope Road and Dock Street respectively, and added the corner site (Lot 4) in 1891. Lot 10, the southernmost portion of what later became the Inglis site was secured from an investor in 1891 by brothers Charles and Julius Williamson.
Alice and Ethel Inglis and purchase of the Huia Street site
In 1910, Rachel Barclay (1853-28) who owned several Devonport properties bought Lot 10, and in 1924 parts of Lots 4 and 8 (former Bartley land). The small, steeply-sloping, L-shaped site so assembled was sold two years later to Alice May Inglis (1880-1956) and Ethel Elizabeth Inglis (1878-1956). The sisters were two of eight or more children of Devonport blacksmith Thomas Inglis (1846?-1912) and his wife Bridget Mary (1850?-1916). Thomas had owned and operated a forge in Devonport and an ironworking business on the city side of the harbour.
By the early 1920s middle-aged siblings, blacksmith Kenneth Alexander Inglis (1881-1948), Ethel - and possibly Alice, lived at 30 Victoria Road Devonport. In early twentieth-century New Zealand where paid work for females was considered a temporary state until marriage, many women took up employment in the growing retail sector. Since 1910, Alice had managed the confectionery and biscuit department in the Auckland firm Hutchinson Brothers Limited’s largest store which had opened that year in Queen Street. In 1922 Alice ‘well known in the business world of Auckland’, opened her own confectionery shop in the main commercial thoroughfare of New Zealand’s largest city, capitalising on proximity to the railway station, the central post office, passenger ferries, and Queen Street’s many cinemas.
An Inglis Confectionery Company (manufacturing confectioners) was briefly (1928) listed in High Street. By the early 1930s Inglis Confectionery, with Alice as owner, had been established at Marmion Street. Co-location of the enterprise with ‘Orange Drink Ltd’; and ‘British Supplies and Co, Ltd (W. Jenkins, manager), 'Chippies’, suggests Alice may have been a wholesale supplier to the cinema trade. Notwithstanding the onset of the 1920s recession and the Depression in the 1930s, cinema remained the most popular mass entertainment with large audiences a boon to confectionery sales.
Construction of the Inglis house (1929)
A marked resurgence of confidence followed the economic downturn of the early 1920s. Within days of the sisters’ purchase of the steep Huia Street site in November 1926, Ken Inglis commenced basement excavation works, completing retaining walls to floor height prior to the contract being let for erection of the house in 1929. A brother (a probable reference to Ken) built the fireplaces and undertook all the stonework. The two-storey dwelling with attic was designed to incorporate two self-contained households and exhibited American and English Arts and Crafts architectural influences.
The building was constructed up to the front boundary of the narrow L-shaped site and enjoyed views to the east, west and south over the harbour and eastern suburbs of the city. A wall faced with cobblestones extended along the mid portion of the street boundary, rising in height to form part of a porch supported by a pair of classical columns. Foundation walls and chimneys faced with cobblestones complemented the rustic shingled walls of the ground floor and attic storeys, giving an impression of solidity and melding the building into the hillside setting. The basement storey was clad with weatherboards. The four well-articulated elevations below the hipped-gable roof incorporated multi-paned lead light windows within bays of varying styles.
Internally, the formal entrance on the ground floor opened into the front portion of a reverse L-shaped hall off which were a large bedroom; and an interconnected living room and dining room. Opening onto the rear portion of the hall were a kitchen, a bathroom, and a small bedroom. The staircase led to a spacious enclosed sleeping porch and a large bedroom on the first floor; and at basement level - a laundry and the one-bedroom self-contained flat.
The Huia Street house was the largest commission undertaken by Auckland architect H.W.L. (Lloyd) Bates (1896-1969) during one-and-a-half decades of private practice (1922-37) and is considered the best of his Devonport houses. The builders were J. and D.R. Brown, of Eden Terrace, Auckland.
The combination of classical architectural references with Arts and Crafts design as seen in the Inglis house was well-established in the works of the renowned English architects C.F.A. Voysey (1857-1941) and Edwin Lutyens (1869-1944). In the 1920s in New Zealand there was a resurgence of the English Arts and Crafts style initially adopted by well-to-do Edwardians in the Dominion.
American influences on New Zealand house building also increased steadily during the early twentieth century. In the United States the Shingle Style had emerged in the early 1880s as a revival of eighteenth-century American colonial architecture, adopting sweeping shingled walls and roofs, a physical continuity carried over into the organisation and flow of interior spaces. The 1908 visit of the American fleet strengthened political and cultural ties between the two Pacific countries and contributed to a growing aesthetic awareness among New Zealanders of all things American.
The efficiency of the American labour-saving home welcomed in New Zealand in the early 1920s coincided with Chicago-trained R.A. Lippincott’s controversial design for the University of Auckland’s Old Arts Building (Record no. 25, Category I historic place), and the increasing local influence of the American film industry. In California, stars drawn to Hollywood from the east-coast stage built houses in the American Colonial architectural style, a style soon adopted by New Zealanders.
Those wishing to avoid too close an association with the ‘mass media' styles could opt for an architectural design that blended in elements of the classical to give the required amount of social gravity. Reflecting local recollections of the architect Lloyd Bates as ‘always quiet and unassuming’; and his clients, the Inglis sisters, as keeping very much to themselves, the design of the door and window detailing, and classical columns of the Huia Street house suggest strong English-influences.
Subsequent use and modifications
The Huia Street address appeared in Auckland street directories in 1932, with the listing of Kenneth ‘Ingles’, contractor - a listing maintained into the 1950s well after Ken Inglis’ death. Although they also resided there, Alice and Ethel did not appear in directory listings until the mid-1950s. Although it is unclear whether Ethel was in paid employment, both women appeared in the 1938 electoral roll as ‘spinster’ notwithstanding Alice’s professional status as a confectioner.
After the First World War (1914-18) in which 17,000 New Zealand men lost their lives, it was not unusual for unmarried adult siblings to live in the same household - a situation also necessitated by restriction of provision of unemployment assistance solely to men, notwithstanding that working women paid an employment levy. It was only after the Employment Promotion Act 1936 that women over the age of 20 were able to register and receive state assistance to find paid work. During the 1930s Depression, the Inglis rented out the basement flat, a tenancy held by a Mrs R. Callan by 1933; and by hairdresser Bernard H Marks by 1938.
The Inglis’ widowed sister, Olive (1892-1961), ran Alice’s Marmion Street confectionery operation from the early 1940s until the business closed in circa 1947. Alice appears to have closed her confectionary shop in the Dilworth Building by 1946 and retired from working life. Ethel and Alice Inglis died in 1956, within months of one another. The Huia Street house was bequeathed to their sister Olive Newdick-Inglis, and following her death passed to their only surviving sister Maud Bogue (1886-1963).
The house was sold in 1963. By this time two external doors at basement level (east elevation) may have been replaced and a third similar door added. Very few alterations were made over the following five decades, during which time there was one further change of ownership.
A timber-framed double garage of flat-roofed design with fibrolite wall cladding was constructed in the south-east corner of the site in 1965. A rear garden was provided in 1978 with the purchase of the back portion of an adjoining Clarence Street property. A small garden shed was erected in 1983. A pergola-roofed porch not evident on the original plan may have been added to shelter the rear (north) door. Internally, the bench top in the ground floor kitchen was replaced at an unknown date; and the two bathrooms were renovated. Part of the stone-faced boundary wall and the pergola supports of the front porch were rebuilt following collapse of the wall in 1999. The roof tiles were replaced with slate in 2002.
The former Inglis House is located in Devonport, a maritime suburb of the north shore of Auckland. Devonport, noted for its well-preserved nineteenth and early twentieth-century buildings, lies on the northern shoreline of the Waitemata Harbour, across from the inner eastern suburbs and the central business district (CBD) of Auckland. The house occupies a steep site towards the top of the east side of Huia Street.
Visually separated from the Devonport commercial centre which is located approximately 500 metres to the east, Huia Street is a one-way thoroughfare that links Calliope Road (the main access to Stanley Point) and Queens Parade (which runs along the harbour foreshore). The Calliope Dry Dock (constructed 1881-88) is located approximately 500 metres to the west of Huia Street.
The southern gateway to Victoria Road, Devonport’s main commercial thoroughfare, is marked by the Esplanade Hotel (Record no. 4481, Category I historic place). Other historic buildings located in Victoria Road include the Art Deco-style former Post Office; the former Bank of New Zealand; the Victoria Theatre (Record no. 7712, Category I historic place), and a number of commercial buildings of late nineteenth-and early twentieth-century date. At the southern end of Victoria Road are a number of commemorative monuments including the First World War Memorial (Record no. 4515, Category II historic place), the Alison Clock (Record no. 4513, Category II historic place), and the Coronation Sea Wall (Record no. 4516, Category II historic place). Within wider Devonport are a number of nineteenth and early twentieth-century residential buildings.
Huia Street contains a variety of predominantly late-nineteenth and early twentieth-century timber residences including Bolitho House at number 2 - the childhood home of New Zealand author and journalist Hector Bolitho (1898-1974); and Claremont, number 14-14A where well-known early twentieth-century photographer Henry Winkelmann (1860-1932) lived in the 1890s. Claremont and the former Inglis House are two of a number of residential buildings identified in wider Devonport in 1974 for their architectural interest and as representative of the former Borough’s earlier character.
The extended street frontage of 18-20 Huia Street is delineated by a stone-faced concrete boundary wall, and stone pillars that flank the path and driveway entrances. The wall incorporates piers that extend up to the front entrance porch which is an integral part of the building design. Concrete steps extend from both ends of the porch, behind the wall parallel with the road boundary.
The site lies on sloping ground which descends eastward to the rear, and southward along Huia Street. The property is approximately rectangular in plan apart from a northward extension that encompasses a small terrace garden. Two classical columns mounted on the stone-faced terrace-garden wall support a pergola that shelters a path and the back door.
The main residence occupies an elevated position along the west side of the site. Concrete paths and steps have cobblestone-edges. The land adjoining the driveway on the south property boundary is retained by a basalt wall topped by a hedge. A 1960s flat-roofed garage and a small metal garden shed are located in the southeast area of the site. Apart from rock-lined paths, little appears to survive of any 1930s garden setting predating enlargement of the holding in 1978. Hydrangea bushes (evident in a 1972 photograph) formerly occupied the area to the south of the house, an area landscaped within the last decade.
The residence can be described as being of an English cottage revival style, with shingle wall coverings reminiscent of the American Shingle Style. The house is of timber-frame construction, with a hip-gabled roof (slates circa 2002) and wide eaves. The roof accommodates a pair of polygonal bay windows - one on either side of the ridge which corresponds with the location of an enclosed sleeping porch. A chimney stack protrudes from the roof adjoining the east-facing bay window; and a second (external) chimney extends above the southern hipped gable.
The upper storey and attic of the well-preserved exterior are clad with redwood shingles - dropping and spaced to give a rustic appearance. The lower storey is clad with overlapping, bevel-backed redwood weatherboards. The chimneys, foundation walls and front porch base are faced with round stones, said to have come from Coromandel. Similar round river stones were a preferred material for early twentieth-century bungalows in New Zealand and - where used a long way from an obvious source of supply - had often been used as ship ballast.
As viewed from Huia Street, the structure varies in height from single storey with attic, to two-storey and attic. The south-facing elevation incorporates a basement storey, enhancing the visual prominence of the residence with its tall stone chimney as viewed from Devonport’s harbour ferries.
The building is rectangular in plan. The main entrance, a mix of Arts and Crafts and classical detailing, faces west. The doorway has a semi-circular head and is sheltered by a columned porch. The heavy door with strap hinges incorporates a woodworked diamond-shape (on which a lion-head door knocker is mounted) within the timber panelling.
Reflecting English Arts and Crafts and American Shingle Style precedents, windows are picturesquely grouped and placed so as to vary internal lighting effects. In addition to the polygonal bay window of the attic, the west-facing elevation overlooking Huia Street has a bow window to one side of the front door and a narrow oriel on the other. There is also a square corner bay window which is matched at basement level by a semi-octagonal corner bay. The bow and square bays are flat-roofed and flare toward the base, echoing the jettyied lower edge of the building’s middle storey. Whitney windows are used in many locations throughout the house.
The three other well-articulated elevations also incorporate lead light windows with small diagonal or geometrically shaped panes. Within the lower level of the south elevation, the front entrance to the basement flat is located in the lee of the stone chimney and is articulated by a semi-circular pergola head supported on heavy timber brackets. As on the west elevation, the skirted bays, window pane styles, recessed base, white-painted joinery and skilled combination of natural material - stone, timber shingles and weatherboards - create a visually pleasing composition.
Windows on the east (rear) elevation are leadlight but do not occupy projecting bays. Set within the basement level and sheltered by a half-height stone wall is a recessed porch containing three doors - two to the flat; one to the laundry and staircase. A half-height louvred wall panel ventilates the built-in food safe of the basement kitchen, and illustrates careful attention to detail and fine workmanship consistent with Arts and Crafts design principles.
The ground floor windows at either end of the north elevation have flared, shingled window-hoods that sweep down from the attic storey to flank the central area in which the back door and an oval window are located. The upper panes in the square-headed back door form an arch, alluding to the form of the two front entrances (west and south elevations). On the attic storey an oriel window incorporates a pair of windows that protrude at a right angle and provides natural light to the middle stair landing.
The information in this section of the report has been compiled from archival plans; a 1972 report incorporating photographs (Architecture and Planning Library, University of Auckland); and verbal information provided by a current owner of the house.
The interior contains accommodation on three levels. The ground floor incorporates four main rooms and a dog-leg hallway. The basement consists of a laundry, a former workshop space, and a self-contained flat (an original feature). The attic contains a sleeping porch and a bedroom.
The ground floor is arranged around a reverse L-shaped hallway which has redwood timber panelling. On the north side are a large bedroom and the staircase. On the south side, a three-columned arcade delineates the living room from the hall space. Sliding doors between the living and dining rooms are part of the original layout enabling the rooms to be used as one space. The living and dining room fireplaces and those elsewhere are faced with cobblestones. The living room has papered walls, and plaster ceilings with moulded cornices. The dining room walls have 1920s timber panelling of a rectangular interlocking pattern; and the ceiling has exposed timber beams. Off the east side of the hall are a kitchen with a serving hatch; a bathroom; and a small bedroom. Original built-in kitchen cabinetry including under-bench bins survives. The bathroom has been modernised.
A timber staircase on the north side of the front hall provides access to the attic. Turned spindles form the staircase balustrade. The newel post incorporates an electrical fitting for a light standard (Mercury bearing a flaming torch). A wall-mounted light fitting in the living room also depicts a flaming torch.
The attic contains a sleeping porch, off which are two cubicles: a wardrobe; and a space with tongue and groove timber wall linings and an original wash-hand basin and mirror. The large bedroom has a built-in double wardrobe with oval door mirrors; and a fireplace.
In the basement is a former post-1960s workshop the floor and lower walls of which are concrete. The separate laundry no longer has its washing copper. The basement flat has a living room with a fireplace; a bedroom; a kitchen retaining original built-in joinery including the bench top; and a remodelled bathroom.
Garage and garden shed
These structures were not inspected.
Bathrooms renovated (ground floor / basement)
Concrete tile roof replaced with slates
House (concrete footings / piles; timber frame, shingle and weatherboard cladding; slate roof)
Garage (concrete footings / slab; timber frame, fibrolite sheathing; metal roof)
Shed (timber frame, metal cladding / roof)
26th January 2012
Report Written By
Jeremy Ashford, The Bungalow in New Zealand, Auckland, 1994
Geoffrey B. Churchman (ed.), Celluloid Dreams: A Century of Cinema in New Zealand, Wellington, 1997
B and S Hayward, Cinemas of Auckland 1896-1979, Auckland, 1979
Lloyd Jenkins, 2004
Douglas Lloyd Jenkins, At Home: A Century of New Zealand Design. Auckland: Random House, 2004
Sydney Musgrove (ed), The Hundred of Devonport: A Centennial History, Devonport, 1986.
R. C. J. Stone, Makers of Fortune: A Colonial Business Community and its Fall, Auckland, 1973
Wayne Brittenden, Celluloid Circus: The Heyday of the NZ Picture Theatre, Auckland, 2008
Henry-Russell Hitchcock, Architecture, Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries, 1958
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.