Whittome House (Former)

18 Gardner Road And 9A Emerald Street, Epsom, Auckland

  • Whittome House (Former).
    Copyright: NZ Historic Places Trust. Taken By: Joan McKenzie. Date: 25/02/2010.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 2 Public Access Private/No Public Access
List Number 4535 Date Entered 25th June 2010


Extent of List Entry

Extent includes the land described as Pt Lot 31 DP 463 (CTs NA363/83 and NA460/178), North Auckland Land District and the buildings known as the Whittome House (Former) thereon, and their fittings and fixtures. (Refer to map in Appendix 1 for further information).

City/District Council

Auckland Council (Auckland City Council)


Auckland Council

Legal description

Pt Lot 31 DP 463 (CTs NA363/83 and NA460/178), North Auckland Land District


Whittome House (Former) is an Arts and Crafts residence designed by the noted Auckland architectural practice of Grierson, Aimer and Draffin. Constructed in 1924-5 on the lower slopes of One Tree Hill (Maungakiekie) in Epsom, the brick and tile dwelling was erected for condiments manufacturer Frank Whittome and reflects the growing prosperity of local early twentieth-century industrialists and the appeal of English-influenced design in sectors of New Zealand society immediately following the First World War.

Maungakiekie and its surrounding area were occupied by Waiohua chief Kiwi Tamaki before being taken over by Ngati Whatua in the eighteenth century. Following the founding of Auckland as colonial capital in 1840, the land was part of a Crown Grant farmed until at least the late 1880s. The Emerald Hill residential subdivision was created in 1904, and part of a residual holding purchased in 1922 by Ada Whittome for the construction of a family home. Ada's husband Frank Whittome was an Auckland businessman who had succeeded his father a few years earlier in the successful condiments, chutney and sauce-making venture of Whittome, Stevenson and Company. Founded in 1901 to supply the domestic and Australian market, this enterprise was subsequently credited with being the catalyst for the establishment of James Wattie's fruit cannery in the 1930s.

The Whittome's new residence was designed by the practice of Grierson, Aimer and Draffin, architects of the landmark Auckland War Memorial Museum then under construction. Grierson had previously designed a brick factory for Whittome, Stevenson and Company on Carlton Gore Road. Also built of brick, the two-storey Arts and Crafts-style Whittome House was erected in 1924-5 . The asymmetrical massing of the design, an imposing chimney and location of part of the structure on the boundary strongly suggested English architectural influences popular in the Dominion immediately after the First World War. Internally, a living room, billiard room, breakfast room and kitchen occupied the ground floor with bedrooms above. A maid's room was part of the design. Other high-status elements included a freestanding garage on the property for an automobile.

The site was enlarged in 1927 enhancing the north-facing garden overlooked by a loggia and upper storey verandah. The house continued to be occupied by Frank and Ada Whittome until after the sale of Whittome, Stevenson and Company to the Cerebos Group in 1963. Following the death of Ada Whittome in 1977 the property changed hands. A conservatory was built within the outdoor living area in 1984. The external appearance of the main building, which remains in use as a family home, appears little altered.

The Whittome House (Former) has aesthetic significance as a well-designed 1920s brick residence of visually interesting appearance. The place has architectural significance as an externally well-preserved residence designed in an Arts and Crafts style by prominent Auckland architectural partnership Grierson, Aimer and Draffin. The place is historically significant for its connections with Auckland's business class in the early twentieth century, and more specifically Frank Whittome, a second-generation owner of Whittome, Stevenson and Company, an Auckland firm which produced condiments, sauces, pickles and jams for the national market for over six decades.

Assessment criteriaopen/close

Historical Significance or Value

The place is historically significant as the family home of condiments manufacturer Frank Whittome, a second-generation owner of the noted Auckland firm Whittome, Stevenson and Company. The firm which produced sauces, pickles and jams for the national domestic market for over six decades is credited with being the catalyst for establishment of J. Watties Canneries Limited in the Great Depression through the awarding of a substantial contract for the supply of fruit pulp for jam production.

Aesthetic Significance or Value

The Whittome House (Former) has aesthetic value as an imposing two-storey house of visually interesting design located on a corner site in a well-established suburban residential streetscape. The aesthetic value of the place extends to the simplicity and subdued colours of construction materials and the dominance of the residence in relation to Gardner Road, a factor that is accentuated by an impressive chimney, boundary wall and two-storey garage.

Architectural Significance or Value

The Whittome House (Former) has architectural significance as an externally well-preserved two-storey Arts and Crafts-style brick residence designed by the notable Auckland architectural partnership of Grierson, Aimer and Draffin. The architectural significance of the place is enhanced by the survival of walls and a garage which are part of the original design. The residence has architectural value as evidence of the continuing interest in and development of Arts and Crafts domestic architecture in New Zealand in the 1920s. It also enables a broader appreciation of the range of works undertaken by Grierson, Aimer and Draffin, an Auckland practice well-known for commercial and civic buildings designed in the Stripped Classical and Art Deco architectural styles.

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

The Whittome House (Former) has significance for reflecting aspects of New Zealand history including the growing prosperity of those associated with early twentieth-century industries developed to supply products for the domestic market. It also illustrates the influence of perceptions of an idealised English traditional culture on the lifestyle of some sectors of New Zealand society and strong bonds between the Dominion and Britain in the years immediately after the First World War.

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

The design of the Whittome House (Former) is technically accomplished for its asymmetrical massing, the simplicity of the brickwork and the variety, placement and limited use of fenestration in relation to both street frontages. The unusual configuration of the structure, part of which abuts Gardner Road, enhances the visual merit of the design. The overall plan is of particular interest for the manner in which it delineates public and private entrances on the site through the use of building layout including walls and a two-storey garage to screen the service court. The place also has value as a 1920s English-influenced Arts and Crafts-style domestic design by the prominent Auckland architectural practice of Grierson, Aimer and Draffin.

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

The place is part of a broader historical and cultural landscape in south Epsom, which includes an extensive pa site at Maungakiekie, early twentieth-century public parks at Cornwall Park and One Tree Hill Domain, the former Costley Home for the Aged Poor, and other structures at Green Lane Hospital. Further significant components include St Andrews Anglican Church, an Art Deco-influenced electricity substation at The Drive, the Ker House (Former) in Emerald Street and Marire (the former Winstone House) in Claude Road.

Summary of Significance or Values

This place was assessed against, and found it to qualify under the following criteria: a, g and k.


It is considered that this place qualifies as a Category II historic place.


Construction Professionalsopen/close

Grierson, Aimer & Draffin

Hugh Cresswell Grierson (1886-1953) was practising as an architect prior to the First World War. He served in the New Zealand Army and remained overseas to continue his studies at the Architectural Association in London. He became an Associate of the Royal Institute of British Architects. He returned to New Zealand and went into partnership with Kenneth Walter Aimer (1891-1960), a fellow student in London.

Aimer was educated at Auckland Teachers' Training College and Auckland University College. He became a registered architect in 1918, and later travelled to England to continue his studies. He became an Associate of the Royal Institute of British Architects in 1925.

Malcolm Keith Draffin (1890-1964) was in partnership with Edward Bartley and his son Alva when the First World War began. Draffin served in the army and was awarded the Military Cross. He remained in London after the war to study at the Architectural Association, and was elected a Fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects. Following Edward Bartley's death in 1919, Alva Bartley and Draffin dissolved the partnership.

The Auckland Institute and Museum complex was the major work of the firm, for which they were awarded a Gold Medal by the New Zealand Institute of Architects in 1929. The firm's other work includes the South British Insurance Company, Shortland Street and a number of cinema's including the Capitol, Dominion Rd (1922), the Rialto, Newmarket (1923), the Collosseum/Majestic, Queen Street (1924) and the Edendale cinema (1926). They were one of the first Auckland firms to adopt the Art Deco style popular in America, as can be seen in the Gifford's Building (1929), and they also designed in the Stripped Neo-Classical style as seen in the Northcote War Memorial Pavilion (1922) and the Parnell Library (1923).

The Depression halted most building activity and as a result the partnership was disbanded. Draffin and Aimer practised separately while Grierson took up farming.

Methven and Foster

No biography is currently available for this construction professional

Additional informationopen/close

Historical Narrative

Early history of the site

The site is located on the lower western slopes of Maungakiekie (One Tree Hill), which incorporates the former pa of the eighteenth-century Waihoua chief Kiwi Tamaki. Maungakiekie was part of the broader Auckland Isthmus taken over by Ngati Whatua in the early eighteenth century, preceding colonisation and the founding of Auckland as capital in 1840. Subsequently known as Epsom, the area to the west of Maungakiekie was subdivided following the transfer of the Waitemata-to-Hobson and Waitemata-to-Manukau blocks in 1841 and became renowned for its fertile farmland and large country homes.

The land that later became Gardner Road and Emerald Street was part of an 1847 Crown Grant of approximately 22 hectares, taken up by James Williamson (1814-1888) who later established a substantial residence on his Pah Farm estate nearby. Epsom farmer William Gardner (1829?-1899) bought the 22-hectare block in 1866, having leased it since 1859. In 1887 he subdivided the parcel into a number of large allotments, laying the basis for the creation of Claude, Crescent and Gardner Roads, and Emerald Street. Following Gardner's death, the Emerald Hill subdivision was created on part of the holding in 1904. The land on which the Whittome house was subsequently built was part of a residual area to the east of the Emerald Hill subdivision, and lay within the curtilage of an earlier homestead with associated structures sited to the east.

Purchase of the site by Ada Whittome (1922)

In 1922 Ada Whittome (1891-1977), wife of Frank Whittome (1885?-1965), purchased the corner site on which the couple's family home was constructed three years later. This was located at the junction between New Street (later renamed Emerald Street) and Gardner Road. Manufacturer Frank Whittome was the sole heir of Arthur Whittome (1859?-1916) the co-founder of Whittome, Stevenson and Company whose condiments and pickles enjoyed New Zealand-wide distribution and were exported across the Tasman. Many large residences were constructed in Epsom by prominent Auckland businessmen and industry leaders in the early twentieth century, reinforcing the suburb's reputation as a desirable middle class area. The desirability of South Epsom may have been reinforced by its proximity to Cornwall Park, an amenity gifted to the people of Auckland in 1901 by John Logan Campbell (1817-1912) an early founder of the city.

Frank Whittome had come to New Zealand with his parents Marion (1858?-1935) and Arthur in 1888. Norfolk-born Arthur was evidently engaged in the timber trade, but entered the wholesale pharmaceuticals business upon arrival in the colony. He later established a manufacturing enterprise and went into partnership with Colonel J.P. Stevenson.

Whittome, Stevenson and Company established a condiments factory in Campbell and Ehrenfried's old Domain Brewery building in Newmarket in 1901, a period of developing industrial production in the Auckland province to supply domestic markets. The company's main product, sugar vinegar, was used in many of its foodstuffs which included tomato sauce, Worcester sauce and pickles. Competing against imported products to supply a national market, in 1911 the company moved to attractive purpose-built brick premises in Carlton Gore Road designed by architect Hugh Cresswell Grierson (1886-1953). Whittome senior died in 1916 and was succeeded by son Frank, who may have served in the First World War (1914-18).

Construction of Whittome House (1924-5)

A short while after purchasing the land, work was underway on creating a family home. Plans and specifications for the Whittome House were prepared in September 1924 by Grierson, Aimer and Draffin. The architectural firm had been formed in the early 1920s, and enjoyed particular prominence in the wake of selection of its design for the Auckland War Memorial Museum, construction of which commenced in 1924. The monumental Greek Revival-style landmark overlooking the city was later awarded a Gold Medal by the New Zealand Institute of Architects (1929).

The Arts and Crafts design for the Whittome House was a marked contrast to the Edwardian timber villas predominant in the Gardner Road locality. It also varied from the commercial and civic buildings in the Stripped Classical (and later, Art Deco) style for which Grierson, Aimer and Draffin were known.

In New Zealand, the English Arts and Crafts movement held particular appeal for those who saw themselves as building a new Britain. The years immediately after the First World War (1914-18) were a time of strengthened economic and other ties with Britain, when many in the Dominion looked to England where the Arts and Crafts movement was enjoying a new lease of life in a climate of increasing hostility to European architectural innovation. The Queen Anne Revival and Old English styles popular in the mid to late nineteenth century had become the basis for suburban houses designed by speculative builders in early twentieth-century Britain. After the First World War the derivative form moved upmarket to provide instant respectability for the nouveaux riches.

Colonial architects such as Grierson and Draffin, who had furthered their architectural education at the London Architectural Association before returning following the war, are likely to have been well-placed to design local residences that drew upon an idealised image of English traditional culture.

The contract for Whittome House provided for a six-month construction period and was let on 19 November 1924. Erected partly on the Gardner Road street frontage, the two-storey structure was executed in a buff-coloured brick incorporating clinker and other tints, and was of imposing appearance. It employed small-paned metal-framed windows, and terracotta chimney pots. Penman and Jeffrey Marseilles Pattern tiles, a local product, were used for the roof.

The residence incorporated utility rooms including a laundry directly along the Gardner Road frontage, accentuating the massing and vertical proportions of the south elevation and strongly suggesting English architectural influences. The effect was complimented by a high wall connecting to a freestanding two-storey garage to screen a service court. Access and courtyards associated with the service functions of the house were located towards the southeast end of the property, a private realm strictly segregated from the residence's formal entrance near the southwest corner of the site.

The front entrance, reached from Gardner Road via a small terraced courtyard, was located within a porch recessed within the walls of the main structure. On the north elevation, a single-storey loggia with round arches ran from a generous two-storey bay, eastward across the garden front of the house. Above the loggia was a verandah that may have been enclosed from the outset. Small-paned French casements formed the predominant window style of the house.

In houses constructed in the inter-war years, the Old English theme often flowed into the main interior spaces through the use of panelled wainscoting, beamed ceilings and large fireplaces. Yet in other instances, houses with Arts and Crafts-designed exteriors were given restrained neo-classical or neo-modernistic interiors.

Internally, the major rooms of the Whittome House appear to have been a living room and billiard room (interconnected by sliding doors) and a breakfast room. Living room cupboards had glazed leadlight doors. The fireplace in the billiard room and that in the living room were evidently faced in marble. Upstairs were a master bedroom and children's bedrooms. A maid's room was also part of the design. The halls were panelled with matai. Floors in the hall and main living rooms were of stained and polished timber.

Installation of electrical wiring for lighting and household appliances was still comparatively innovative in the mid 1920s. While much reticulation was undertaken in Epsom streets around this time, use of electricity for domestic purposes was still uncommon due to the high cost per unit. Although a domestic tariff was introduced in December 1924 in an effort to popularise electricity use in anticipation of power from Arapuni, its use in the home remained limited well into the 1920s. The stove installed in the Whittome house ran on gas.

Little is known about builders Methven and Foster, who erected the Whittome House.

Subsequent use and modifications

In 1926, during the onset of the Great Depression, Grierson, Aimer and Draffin designed additions, including a vinegar tower, for Whittome, Stevenson's Newmarket factory. The Whittome's Epsom property was enlarged in 1927 with the addition of part of an adjoining land parcel to the north on Emerald Street. The Carleton Gore Road factory was further altered in 1931 to Draffin's design, the prominent architectural practice having ended around 1930.

Whittome, Stevenson and Company diversified into jam production in 1934, adopting 'Kia Ora' as a brand name. Its plans to use fruit pulp from Australia, spurred James Wattie (1902-1974) to take up the fruit cannery business. The first product packed by J. Watties Canneries Ltd (4,000 kilograms of gooseberry pulp for Whittome, Stevenson) launched what was to become New Zealand's largest food-processing company, the contract having enabled Wattie to raise capital to found the company.

The Whittome residence's brick garage was extended in 1950, work undertaken by building firm A.G. Grinter and Son. In 1963, two years before Frank Whittome's death, Whittome, Stevenson and Company became a subsidiary of the British Cerebos Group. The Gardner Road residence remained the Whittome family home until the death of widow Ada Whittome in 1977. The Grierson-designed condiments factory in Newmarket was demolished in 1978.

A freestanding conservatory structure built within the outdoor living area in 1984 enclosed a pool installed to the north of the loggia. Brick retaining walls, terracing and an off-street parking area were developed at the northern end of the Emerald Street frontage in 1999. By this time the upper level of the garage adjoining Gardner Road had been modified to provide accommodation for family guests. A number of changes are said to have been made to the interior of the house in the decades prior to 2007, the year the kitchen, dining and foyer were incorporated into a single space. The property remains in residential use as a private home.

Physical Description


The Whittome House (Former) is located to the east of the Manukau Road and Green Lane West shopping centre in south Epsom. Epsom is an inner suburb of Auckland, lying to the south of the city centre. The site adjoins the intersection of Emerald Street with Gardner Road, a short two-block thoroughfare between Manukau Road and Crescent Road, on the lower slopes of One Tree Hill. The area lies to the south of the Green Lane Hospital campus and a short distance from the extensive pa Maungakiekie, which is part of a large open space formed by Cornwall Park and One Tree Hill Domain. The latter contains structures associated with John Logan Campbell - the 'Father of Auckland'. These include Acacia Cottage (Record no. 525, Category I historic place) and the One Tree Hill Obelisk (Record no. 4601, Category I historic place).

Other surviving components of the historical landscape in south Epsom include St Andrews Anglican Church (Record no. 116, Category I historic place), the nineteenth-century Costley Home for the Aged Poor and later buildings comprising part of the Green Lane Hospital on Green Lane West, and an Art Deco-influenced electricity substation at The Drive. Other notable residences in the near vicinity of the Whittome House are an Edwardian corner bay villa (the former Ker House) opposite on Emerald Street; and the Arts and Crafts-style Marire, (former Winstone house) in Claude Road.

Site layout

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 main building consists of a two-storey, Arts and Crafts-style brick residence with a Marseilles tile roof. It lies towards the south of the site and is partially screened by large trees that line associated streets. Two of the brick walls of the 1920s garage stand on the common boundary; one adjoining a neighbouring property; the other on the Gardner Road frontage. A concrete wall extends along the Emerald Street frontage and returns along part of Gardner Road and is a 1920s feature. Metal strapping has been added in places to prevent further damage to the concrete wall by ground movement. A recent opening towards the northern end on Emerald Street provides for on-site parking. A modern timber fence above the wall maintains the garden's privacy from Emerald Street.

A site plan and aerial images suggest that some landscaping including terracing may be comparatively recent, although the overall layout of the site including the entrance, steps and service courtyard off Gardener Road are surviving features of the original design.


The well-maintained brick residence appears to retain its original 1920s exterior including roof-line, main openings and building footprint. The austere harmony of the design is maintained by the simplicity of the construction materials and an absence of embellishment. The tiled roof has an attractive hipped form. The building's well-articulated elevations have small-pane metal-framed windows within rectangular and arched wall openings.

A concrete wall encloses the terraced entrance way. Steps lead from Gardner Road to the formal west-facing entrance in the elevation overlooking Emerald Street. The elevations to both streets express strict formality and the maintenance of privacy. Pale buff-coloured bricks with darker colourings have been used for construction of the house, the two-storey garage, and the upper portion of the wall that screens the service court from Gardner Road. The brickwork is in English bond. Bricks of pale orange colour have been used in window sills, archways and lintels and suggest long and short quoin work around some openings.

The dominance of the Gardner Road fa├žade, part of which is built on the boundary, is reinforced by a general lack of window openings and by a substantial wall the upper section of which is brick. The wall sweeps up towards an upper-storey terrace. The overall height of the two-storey structure is accentuated by a chimney that occupies most of a centrally-located shallow gable. A blind arch on the chimney echoes some of the door and windows openings elsewhere on the exterior, and the arches of a loggia on the north side of the building.

An upper-storey north-facing verandah, suggested by a 1929 photograph, may have been replaced in glass. The loggia immediately below opens into a modern conservatory.


Apart from a separate bedroom suite above the garage, the home was described in 2004 as a having five bedrooms. At that time the ground floor entrance foyer facing Emerald Street led into a family room, a formal lounge and formal dining room. More recently, internal walls appear to have been removed between a hall and two other rooms including the kitchen to create a large L-shaped room within the eastern end of the house. A 2004 photograph suggests that the building retains some interior features such as ceilings with plain plaster panels fixed by timber battens. Three of the five bedrooms on the first floor open onto an enclosed verandah above the loggia.

Construction Dates

Original Construction
1924 - 1925
House and garage

1950 -
Garage extended

1984 -

1999 -
Brick retaining wall and off-street parking area (Emerald Street)

2007 -
Internal wall removed converting kitchen, dining room and foyer into one space (house, ground floor)

Construction Details

Concrete foundations, brick walls, tile roof and ridgings

Completion Date

3rd June 2010

Report Written By

Joan McKenzie

Information Sources

Apperley, 1989

Richard Apperley, Robert Irving and Peter Reynolds, A Pictorial Guide to Identifying Australian Architecture: Styles and Terms from 1788 to the Present, Sydney, 1989

Lloyd Jenkins, 2004

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

Shaw, 1991

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

Tait, 1958

G. A. Tait (ed), Farms and Stations of New Zealand Vol. 2, Auckland, 1958

Bush, 2006

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

Conly, 1984

Geoff Conley, Wattie's: The First Fifty Years, Hastings, 1984

Holman, 2001 (2)

Dinah Holman, Newmarket: Lost and Found, Auckland, 2001

Tait, 1961

G.A Tait (ed), Industry and Commerce in New Zealand, Auckland, 1961

Other Information

A fully referenced registration report is available from the NZHPT Northern Region Office

Please note that entry on the New Zealand Heritage List/Rarangi Korero identifies only the heritage values of the property concerned, and should not be construed as advice on the state of the property, or as a comment of its soundness or safety, including in regard to earthquake risk, safety in the event of fire, or insanitary conditions.