Historical Significance or Value
The place has historical significance for its 1890s association with renowned turn of the century photographer Henry Winkelmann. Winkelmann - well known for his three and a half decade photographic record of Auckland, its people and events - bought a camera and established a dark room in 1892 when he moved to Claremont. The place also has historical value as part of the 1880s Calliope Dock Estate, a venture associated with brothers Ewen and Alexander Alison who in 1881 founded the Devonport Steam Ferry Company boosting Devonport’s development as a popular nineteenth-century seaside suburb of Auckland.
Aesthetic Significance or Value
Claremont has aesthetic value as an externally well preserved, timber villa notable for its simple form, gracious proportions and elegant design incorporating a pair of brick corbelled chimneys; and a verandah with bullnose roof and simple detailing. The residence set well back on its site and framed by a pair of mature pohutukawa trees contributes to the visual amenities of the streetscape of predominantly late nineteenth and early twentieth-century residences.
Architectural Significance or Value
The place has architectural significance as a large, externally well preserved late-Victorian villa of timber construction and is notable for the simplicity of its design. The rectangular plan, medium-pitch centre-gutter roof and generous verandah reflect colonial Georgian influences; while the chimney stacks of contrasting coloured brickwork, a pair of factory bay windows, and a bull-nosed verandah with timber fretwork are features synonymous with early colonial bay villa style.
(a) The extent to which the place reflects important or representative aspects of New Zealand history
Claremont reflects the emergence of seaside residential suburbs promoted by suburban land developers during the economic boom of the late 1870s and 1880s in tandem with provision of improved harbour ferry services which encouraged an emerging urban middle class to establish family homes within commuting distance of the central business districts of the colony’s major cities.
(b) The association of the place with events, persons, or ideas of importance in New Zealand history
Claremont has a strong association with the photographer Henry Winkelmann a figure of considerable historical significance well known for his portrayal of Auckland, its people and events over the formative years 1892 to 1928 a period during which New Zealand achieved dominion status. The place is also associated with colonial maritime history as the residence of Winkelmann who was a noted maritime photographer, and as part of a 1880s land development venture associated with the founders of the Devonport Steam Ferry Company (1881) and promoted on the basis of the Calliope Dock planned nearby.
(g) The technical accomplishment or value, or design of the place
Claremont has value as an externally well preserved example of a late-Victorian suburban villa and contributes to a general understanding of the evolution of bay villa design, a residential style of particular importance in the history of New Zealand domestic architecture, and colonial Auckland in particular. The design of Claremont including its classical appearance and siting towards the rear of a generous site illustrates the simplicity and minimal detailing of suburban villa residences prior to evolution of the more ornate styles of the 1890s and early twentieth century.
(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 the historical and cultural landscape of Devonport, a maritime suburb noted for its well-preserved nineteenth- and early twentieth-century buildings including those in the main commercial thoroughfare, Victoria Road located a short distance to the east. Claremont is one of a number of residential buildings identified in the mid-1970s for their architectural interest and as representative of the former Borough’s earlier character. Huia Street is located a short distance to the east of the 1880s Calliope Dry Dock, and contains a variety of well preserved, predominantly late-nineteenth and early twentieth-century timber residences.
Summary of Significance or Values
This place was assessed against, and found it to qualify under the following criteria: a, b, g, and 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 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 colonial government officials.
The site on which Claremont 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 property investor Robert Stark, 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 suburb of commuting businessmen and lesser lights of the commercial community, as private residences were built within easy travelling distance of Auckland’s commercial centre. Capitalising on the proposed development of what was to be the largest dry dock in the southern hemisphere, a short distance to the west, the Alison brothers marketed Lots 9 and 10 in 1884 as part of their Calliope Dock Estate centred on Dock (now Huia) Street. The dry dock project was welcomed by those promoting residential subdivisions in the locality including Sunnyside on the north side of Calliope Road; and the smaller Calliope Dock Estate to the south which offered ‘Grand Villa Sites’ with views of the harbour.
Advertisements for ‘villa sites’ in colonial New Zealand were intended to set such residences apart from cottages by virtue of their size and cost. The term villa came to refer to later Victorian houses of more than four of five rooms, typically built in the suburbs. By the 1880s, the single-bay villa with minimal detailing was the recurring house type in Auckland, and by the early 1890s incorporated the bay window with its own gable end as an integral part of the house structure. New Zealand’s predominant house style from 1895 until 1910, the bay villa was a statement of the strength and success of the rising Victorian middle class, and reflected a focus on the home, family and the importance of social status.
Construction of Claremont (circa 1885)
Much of Auckland’s early-1880s suburban real estate boom targeted speculative investors rather than genuine home-builders. Immediately preceding the economic depression of the 1880s and early 1890s, grocer William Bruce (an employee of H. P. Gibbons and Co. Grocers and Coal Forward Merchants in Auckland’s Hobson Street) purchased three adjoining lots (14, 16 and 18) in July 1884, on the east side of Dock Street. A mortgage registered in November and transfer of the property to Bruce’s wife Henrietta (1843?-87), possibly signalled the construction of the eight-roomed family home occupying the site by early 1888.
A number of Devonport houses constructed at this time were the work of noted Auckland architect Edward Bartley (1839-1919) who lived locally, although it is not known whether he designed the Bruce residence. Nor is the identity of the building-contractor known.
The house was erected on a sloping site with views west to Huia Street; and south to the harbour and the city of Auckland. Located close to the rear boundary of the uppermost two lots (14 and 16), the rectangular villa-style residence was notable for its simplicity of form and gracious proportions. Aspects of the design including the formal plan, unbroken hipped, medium pitched roof and the generous verandah were reminiscent of the Georgian architectural style favoured in the colony’s earlier decades. Other features including the long central hall, bullnose verandah and factory-produced bay windows on a side elevation, were villa features.
The front entrance located asymmetrically within one of the two long elevations was sheltered by a full-length verandah which returned to abut the kitchen lean-to on the rear (north) elevation. The third lot (18) protected views of the harbour from the two south-facing bay windows. The exterior cladding was horizontal rusticated weatherboards, an increasingly popular material in the 1880s which was often used on façades only on account of the additional cost. The residence had a centre-gutter roof, the most common roof form by the 1880s as it enabled the construction of longer houses where the hall ran deeper into the plan with rooms ranged more or less equally on either side. By 1900, much of the simplicity evident in the style of the Huia Street residence had been overtaken by mass produced, formulaic villa designs with highly ornamental detailing.
In December 1887, 43-year-old Henrietta Bruce died leaving William as a widower with five children.
Subsequent use and association with the Winkelmann family (circa 1886 - 97)
The Dock Street home on two of the three lots (Lots 14 and 16) was purchased by Louisa Winkelmann (1833?-97) in February 1892. Louisa, the widow of a Bradford textile merchant, Peter Winkelmann (d. 1877), named the house Claremont, evidently after a street in her English home town.
Louisa and her five daughters had arrived in the colony in the early 1880s, sons Charles and Henry having preceded them some years before. Louisa’s home Claremont became a base for her seven adult family members, including Henry (1860-1932) who became one of New Zealand’s best-known early twentieth-century photographers. Bank clerk Henry Winkelmann’s is said to have lived at the address from early 1892 until November 1894 when he was transferred to Wellington. He also boarded at Claremont for three months before taking up a position at Blenheim in May 1896.
Henry’s association with Claremont was of particular significance, Devonport’s early ship-building tradition and proximity to the harbour enabling him to pursue an emerging interest in marine photography. In April 1892, Winkelmann bought a camera and photographic materials and (evidently using a small building on the property as a darkroom) tentatively began freelance photography. In 1893, while living at Dock Street, he photographed his first Auckland Anniversary Day Regatta. Commencing in 1896 many of his maritime images appeared in the Weekly News over the following three decades. In 1901, Winkelmann set up as a full-time professional photographer in Auckland’s Queen Street, winning a gold medal at the Panama Pacific Exposition in San Francisco in 1915.
Recognised as one of New Zealand’s great photographers of location, Winkelmann portrayed the colony as a distinctive entity in the South Pacific rather than as a mirror of England. His photographs, including significant panoramas, captured Auckland’s a busy port and mercantile heart. Other images reflected gay life and male friendships; or significant historical events including soldiers departing for the Boer War (1902); the visits of Lord Plunket (1904), and the American Fleet (1908); the opening of Auckland’s Central Post Office (1912); and the Auckland Waterfront strike (1913).
Winkelmann’s association with Claremont ended in February 1897, when Louisa sold the property a few weeks before her death. Although Henry bought land in present-day Mays Street in Devonport, the house constructed there has since been demolished. Winkelmann lodged at Dilworth Terrace (Record no. 567, Category I historic place), in Parnell; at Alten Road off Symonds Street; and spent much of his later life on his Swanson property, however, Claremont remains the place with which he is most commonly associated. The Victoria Arcade on Queen Street, the former location of his professional studios was demolished in the 1970s.
Twentieth century and beyond
Auckland-born Rachel Barclay (1853-1928), the owner of several Devonport properties including a shop in Victoria Road, bought Claremont in July 1898 and progressively enlarged her holding by adding adjoining properties to the north. Rachel’s husband Thomas Barclay (d.1927) was a mine battery manager in 1873. In 1888 he owned and managed the Lone Hand gold mine at Karaka Creek, an enterprise floated as a public company by new owners the following year.
A turn of the century photograph shows Claremont behind a timber picket fence, with a narrow path curving up to the entrance steps. In accordance with popular fashion of the time the verandah roof was painted in alternating light and dark stripes to produce a tent-like effect. The south end of the verandah, shown in an 1894 photograph as open with blinds and drapery providing screening, appears to have been closed in by 1903.
By 1932, Claremont was tenanted by motor cycle agent Arthur Merson, who purchased the property from Barclay’s executors in 1948. The construction of a semi-circular driveway in front of the house may have accompanied the erection of a garage in 1950.
The earliest known surviving plan of the residence dates from 1959, the year the property changed hands. The house is shown as consisting of three apartments and a shared bathroom. Conversion into three fully self-contained flats required further enclosure of the verandah, conversion of a bedroom into a bathroom and construction of other bathroom and kitchen facilities. The outbuilding housing a water closet, laundry and storeroom, became a toilet and enlarged laundry taking in the former storeroom.
Alterations and additions made in 1978 restored the house to use as a family dwelling, again known as Claremont. A swimming pool was installed to the north of the house in the early 1980s. By this time the cast iron sink had been removed from the laundry building said to have been Winkelmann’s nineteenth-century dark room. The 1950s garage was replaced. Development of the basement under the house introduced an internal staircase and new door and window openings. Alterations to the kitchen and family area in 2004-5 replaced earlier modernisations at the rear of the house. In 2007, a bedroom was remodelled to provide en suite bathroom and a large wardrobe for the master bedroom.
A plaque was installed in the road reserve in 2006 as part of a local council project to mark the former homes of local artists, and formally recognises Claremont’s association with the noted photographer, Henry Winkelmann.
Claremont 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 (CBD) of Auckland. Claremont occupies a slightly elevated site half way along Huia Street.
Visually separated from the Devonport commercial centre located approximately 500 metres to the east, Huia Street is a one-way thoroughfare linking 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 other 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). Located on an elevated site at 18-20 Huia Street is the former Inglis House, a late-1920s dwelling designed in an Arts and Crafts style. Claremont and the former Inglis House are two of a number of nineteenth and early twentieth-century residential buildings identified in wider Devonport in 1974 for their architectural interest and as representative of the former Borough’s earlier character.
The boundary of the long street frontage of 14-14A Huia Street is marked by a timber paling fence and has a vehicle crossing toward either end. Attached to a kerb stone to the west of the northern vehicle crossing is a Council plaque stating that photographer Henry Winkelmann lived in the current house from 1892 until 1897.
The information in this and the following section of the report has been compiled from archival plans, a recent aerial image from Google Earth and observation from the public street.
The house lies on a terrace from which the land slopes gently in a southwest direction towards the street, and to the harbour half a block away. The property is L-shaped and consists of two full lots, and the rear portion of two adjoining lots. The residence is positioned parallel to the rear (east) boundary on the main body of the site. The grounds in front of the house consist of lawn, a U-shaped sealed driveway and informal plantings. Two large pohutukawa trees within the front yard frame the view of the property and appear to have been planted after 1903.
On the northern part of the site not visible from the street, are a swimming pool and a pool plant room (former laundry building) within a north-facing rear garden. It is unclear whether the former laundry building is sited within the land parcel originally associated with Claremont, or within land added to the holding in 1898. Located towards the front of the site is a 1980s garage of weatherboard appearance with corrugated steel gable roof and an attached lean-to carport built to the north boundary. The position of the garage and neighbouring houses well forward on their respective sites reinforces a perception of Claremont as a gracious Victorian villa occupying the largest property in the street.
The main residence can be described as a large, rectangular late-Victorian villa. The simplicity of the design suggests aspects of colonial Georgian architecture, a style favoured for its genteel associations. The house is of timber construction, with a hipped centre-gutter roof with corrugated metal covering. Located towards the south end are two brick chimney-stacks of cream and orange brickwork with ornamental corbel pieces and flared tops, a style popular in the 1880s and 1890s. The building’s well-preserved exterior is clad with horizontal rusticated weatherboards.
The structure is single-storeyed as viewed from the street, but incorporates a substantial basement area towards the south end. The building is rectangular in plan. A verandah with bullnose roof extends along the long elevation facing Huia Street and returns a short distance across north side of the building. Paired verandah supports have chamfered corners, and rudimentary capitals formed by mouldings attached to the post faces. Decorative timber fretwork incorporates a simple gothic trefoil and is confined to the post junctions.
The southern end of the verandah is enclosed on two sides by tongue and groove timber and has windows with coloured margin glazing. The glass is of a style commonly found in 1880s, but may date from the early 1980s as a 1974 image suggests a sun-porch with plain glass.
The door case incorporates plain glass side lights and is asymmetrically positioned slightly to the south. A broad flight of timber steps rises from the east side of the U-shaped driveway, to the verandah.
The south elevation facing towards the harbour has a pair of simple flat-roofed, bay windows of a type that preceded full width diagonal cornered bays which by the 1890s were an integral part of what became the classic bay villa style. Claremont’s windows appear to be predominantly double-hung sashes. French doors, bi-fold windows and openings replacing non-original features within the north end of the house are more recent introductions associated with adaptation of the house for modern living.
The interior contains accommodation on two levels. Development of the basement as habitable space appears to have occurred within the last two or three decades. The layout possibly includes a bathroom, two bedrooms and a larger space. An internal stairway links the basement and the ground floor.
The rooms on the ground floor open off a reverse L-shaped hallway, an unusual layout compared with that of later villas where the central hall traditionally runs uninterrupted from the front door, to a kitchen within the rear of the house.
Fireplaces may survive in the two front rooms off the south end of the front hall. One of these rooms (the master bedroom) incorporates most of a former bedroom converted to en suite bathroom and wardrobe. The adjoining bathroom and the basement stairs on the east side of the hall also replace a former bedroom. On the west side of the hall, two rooms face onto the verandah. Located within the north (rear) of the house are a modern kitchen and a modern living room which open onto a deck overlooking a pool and a north-facing rear garden.
South end of verandah enclosed to create sun porch
Conversion into three apartments
House restored as a single dwelling
2004 - 2005
Alterations to kitchen and family area
Conversion of bedroom to en suite bathroom and wardrobe
Construction of villa, (possibly including laundry out-building)
House: Brick foundation?; timber frame and cladding; corrugated metal roof
Former laundry building: Brick foundation; timber frame and cladding; corrugated metal roof?
Garage / carport: Concrete footings / slab and firewall; timber frame, metal roof and cladding
26th January 2012
Report Written By
Lloyd Jenkins, 2004
Douglas Lloyd Jenkins, At Home: A Century of New Zealand Design. Auckland: Random House, 2004
Jeremy Salmond, Old New Zealand Houses 1800-1940, Auckland, 1986, Reed Methuen
R. C. J. Stone, Makers of Fortune: A Colonial Business Community and its Fall, Auckland, 1973
Di Stewart, The New Zealand Villa Past and Present, Auckland, 1992
Vivien Edwards, Winkelmann: Images of Early New Zealand, Auckland, 1987
David Eggleton, Into the Light: A History of New Zealand Photography, Nelson, 2006
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.