Hulme's Court

52 Tennyson Street, Dunedin

  • Hulme's Court, Dunedin.
    Copyright: Heritage New Zealand. Taken By: Heather Bauchop. Date: 7/03/2018.
  • Hulme's Court, Dunedin. Building detail.
    Copyright: Norman Wood.
  • Hulme's Court, Dunedin. Image courtesy of CC Licence 2.0.
    Copyright: denisbin. Taken By: denisbin. Date: 15/10/2016.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 1 Public Access Private/No Public Access
List Number 4711 Date Entered 25th September 1986


Extent of List Entry

Extent includes the land described as Lot 4 DP 1853 (CT OT146/22), Otago Land District and the building known as Hulme’s Court thereon. (Refer to map in Appendix 1 of the List entry report for further information).

City/District Council

Dunedin City


Otago Region

Legal description

Lot 4 DP 1853 (CT OT146/22), Otago Land District


Hulme’s Court, located at 52 Tennyson Street Dunedin, is an aesthetic, architectural and historic gem dating to 1860. A turreted addition designed in 1863 by noted architect David Ross, created a somewhat piecemeal residence which still exudes elegance and refinement. For over 35 years it was not only a residence but a doctor’s surgery, figuratively and literally. It then became associated with the Italian maestro, Rafaello Squarise, who inspired the development of classical and modern music in Dunedin.

Dr Edward Hulme trained in England and Europe, and was an experienced medical professional by the time he immigrated to Dunedin in 1856. As Provincial Surgeon at the Dunedin Hospital, the gold rush saw Hulme transformed into what has been described as New Zealand’s first full-time health administrator. By March 1860 he had built the very first part of Hulme’s Court. Enlarged by May 1861, it gained a David Ross designed addition in 1863. It was Ross’ first residential design in New Zealand. The design included a surgery where Hulme conducted his private practice including surgical procedures. Given the conditions in the hospital at the time, a private residence could be no less hygienic.

After Hulme’s death, the combined house and surgery were leased to a succession of doctors. In 1896 the residence was first referred to as Hulme’s Court and it became boarding accommodation. For the next ten years the boarding house was run as a female-owned private business.

In 1913 Hulme’s Court was purchased by Signor Rafaello Squarise, an Italian maestro invited to Dunedin in 1889 by the New Zealand and South Seas Exhibition Committee. His ‘performing abilities were instantly recognised by the public, and his willingness to participate in every kind of music-making made him popular’. Championing both classical and modern styles of music in the city and beyond, Squarise became a popular music teacher and the former surgery became a teaching space.

In 1924 Squarise divided the home into two flats, employing E. H Walden to make several alterations. The next owners continued to use the home as two flats, and over the next twenty-five years more of the interior was enclosed to reinforce this separation. In 1980 a new owner restored Hulme’s Court into one home, reopening closed spaces, and returning rooms to their original function. It remained a family home until 1999 when a new owner undertook several alterations to create a bed and breakfast. Yet, almost 160 years after it was built, the residence still bears the name of the physician who lived and worked there – Hulme’s Court.

Assessment criteriaopen/close

Historical Significance or Value

Dr Hulme is an important historical figure in the medical history of New Zealand. Only the ninth doctor to practice medicine in Otago, Hulme arrived a mere 11 years after Otago’s first doctor. This pioneer medical practitioner, with extensive European and English training, became New Zealand’s first full-time health administrator. The founding doctor of Dunedin’s separate Lunatic Asylum, he was also the first to do ‘particularly good surgical work both inside the Hospital and outside in his consulting practice, and he became really the forerunner of the operating surgeons of Otago who have made our medical school what it is to-day’. As Provincial Surgeon for over 15 years, Hulme’s ‘fame as a medical man [was] by no means confined to the narrow sphere of Otago’.

Hulme’s Court is also one of Dunedin’s few remaining grand 1860s mansions. Standing as a testament to the city’s early founding fathers, many of these impressive and elegant homes have been lost to later development. To an increasing degree, Dunedin depends on its historic buildings for growing tourism to the city and highlighting the heritage values of these grand homes is becoming more and more important.

Further historical significance is attributable to the residence’s connection to Signor Raffaello Squarise. A ‘well-known musician’ in Australasia, Squarise was a pioneer in the establishment of classical music in New Zealand. Hulme’s private surgery became Squarise’s teaching space, where hundreds of Dunedin locals honed their musical talents.

Aesthetic Significance or Value

Hulme’s Court has outstanding aesthetic significance. Presenting a picturesque view at street level, the turret, pitched rooflines and elegant exterior details create a highly pleasing aesthetic. The outstanding aesthetic value of the house is enhanced by the originality of its features. Modifications have not disrupted the original intentions and appeal. The residence is seemingly made up different sections, sewn together in a somewhat arbitrary manner. Yet the overall effect is charming and magical, inviting the viewer to explore its various nooks and crannies.

Architectural Significance or Value

Hulme’s Court is of special architectural significance as a largely original representation of an early 1860s residence. The existing building has cumulative value and of particular interest is the way in which the 1860 part of the house can still be distinguished from the c.1863 additions. Outwardly, the only change to the 1863 exterior is the 1950 porch and kitchen projection. Also of architectural interest is the way in which the turret was used to proclaim and house private medical (and later musical) services, distinct from the typical residential architecture of the remainder. Combined professional and residential early 1860s residences are rare.

The residence’s connection with noted architect David Ross adds special importance to the structure, particularly as it was his first residential design in New Zealand. Ross is ‘undoubtedly one of the most important architects who have worked in Dunedin’. He went on to design some of Dunedin’s most impressive residences, including Johnny Jones’ Fernhill; as well as several significant public buildings including the original portion of the Otago Museum and the Moray Place Congregational Church. Ross enjoyed the patronage of some of Dunedin’s leading businessmen – but Hulme was first in that line.

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

Hulme’s Court is an outstanding representation of a grand, architecturally designed, early 1860s residence. It is further significant as a combined doctor’s surgery and residence. It relates not only to the history of early residences and New Zealand’s early medical practitioners, but also to the history of boarding establishments and the development of music, in its connection with Signor Rafaello Squarise.

(b) The association of the place with events, persons, or ideas of importance in New Zealand history

The house is primarily associated with Dr Hulme; Provincial Surgeon, New Zealand’s first fulltime hospital administrator, the founder and first doctor of Dunedin’s lunatic asylum, the forerunner of the operating surgeons of Otago private practice and more. He was recently named one of New Zealand’s first social entrepreneurs who fostered social innovation - one of just twenty, alongside the likes of Sir Truby King, Kate Sheppard, and Sir Apirana Ngata. Decades after his death the house was named Hulme’s Court in memory of this eminent early medical practitioner.

The house is also associated with noted architect David Ross. One of Dunedin’s most significant and accomplished architects, he had a career that encompassed Australia, South Africa, Auckland and Dunedin. He received the high honour of Fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects (FRIBA); one that no other Dunedin architect received.

Hulme’s Court was also associated with Raffaello Squarise for over thirty years. Working as a professional musician and teacher in a predominantly amateur musical environment, his influence was discernible and widely-felt particularly in Dunedin’s cultural life.

(e) The community association with, or public esteem for the place

There is widespread community esteem for Hulme’s Court and it is marketed on various tourism and accommodation sites. It is described as ‘an architectural treasure situated right in the heart of Dunedin’. In nationwide media reports it has been described as a grand mansion which is regarded as one of Dunedin’s most highly treasured residential buildings’.

(i) The importance of identifying historic places known to date from an early period of New Zealand settlement

Hulme’s Court dates to an early period of New Zealand settlement, particularly in terms of Dunedin’s establishment which dates from 1848. Hulme arrived in Dunedin in 1856 and the first part of the house was built 1859-1860. It is part of a small group of early extant residential buildings. Indeed, given existing knowledge, Hulme’s Court may the third oldest surviving residence in Dunedin, after Ferntree Cottage and Ebbin Cottage (now Clifton Villa).

(j) The importance of identifying rare types of historic places

There are a handful of combined Doctors’ surgeries/residences on Heritage New Zealand’s List Pouhere Taonga. None, however, date to such an early period in New Zealand’s history. Neither are they connected to a medical practitioner of Hulme’s eminence. Indeed there are few residences still extant, which date to the early 1860s. This is particularly true in Dunedin where settlement proper only began in 1848.

From time immemorial, music teachers have used their private residence to pass on their skills to pupils. Heritage New Zealand’s List, however, does not appear to include a private residence-come-teaching space associated with a prominent musician or entertainer. Italian maestro Signor Squarise was a talented violinist, composer and conductor and had an enormous effect on Dunedin's enthusiasm for and participation in classical music. He established himself first as a teacher, taking pupils in his home. The old surgery in Hulme’s Court, with its private entrance, provided Squarise with the perfect space to pass on his skills as a music director and teacher.

Summary of Significance or Values

It is considered that this place qualifies as a Category 1 historic place. Hulme’s Court has a special aesthetic value, encompassing a turret, pitched rooflines and elegant detailing, all of which date to c. 1863. Designed by noted architect David Ross, Hulme’s Court was his first residential design in New Zealand. Special significance lies also in the home’s use as a doctor’s surgery and its association with Dr Hulme and a succession of early Otago doctors. Later, as the home and teaching space of Signor Raffaelo Squarise, it became associated with the development of music in Dunedin and beyond. In combination these values make Hulme’s Court a historic home of outstanding significance.


Construction Professionalsopen/close

Ross, David

David Ross (1827-1908) was one of a significant number of architects who came to New Zealand from Australia in the early 1860s prompted by the news of the Otago gold rushes. Born in Scotland, Ross worked in Victoria in the late 1850s before settling in Dunedin in c.1862, whereupon he entered into a brief partnership with William Mason (1810-97). After establishing his own practice, Ross designed the Congregational Church (1863-64), Dunedin's oldest ecclesiastical building, Fernhill house (1867) which is now home to the Dunedin Club, and the central wing of the Otago Museum (1876-77).

In the mid-1860s Ross worked briefly in Hokitika (1866) before returning to Dunedin and in 1870 he applied for a patent for the frames and apparatus required for the construction of works in concrete. This application lapsed but it is nevertheless significant as it places Ross at the forefront of the development of mass concrete construction in this country. In addition to his professional responsibilities David Ross was also a member of the first Dunedin City Council (1865-66) and in 1876 he became the first president of the joint Institute of Engineers and Architects in Otago. Ross may have returned to Australia in the early 1890s and it would appear that he spent the rest of his life living in the United States and Japan.

Walden, Edward Walter

Walden was born (b.1870) in Dunedin and educated at Otago Boys' High School. He began his architectural career articled to James Hislop. He became a partner in the Dunedin firm of Hislop and Walden, and when Hislop died in 1902, he took over the firm.

Walden was responsible for the first abattoirs erected in New Zealand, Hallenstein's Building on the Octagon, a church at Anderson's Bay and Levin and Company's Building, Dunedin.

His son Eric practised architecture at Nelson.

Tyrell, H.E.

No biography is currently available for this construction professional

Additional informationopen/close

Historical Narrative

Early History

The history of Coastal Otago (Te Tai o Araiteuru) relates to the tradition of the waka Arai Te Uru. These traditions and histories provide the basis for tribal identity. Muaupoko (Otago Peninsula) in particular provided a sheltered place for settlement, and Waitaha, Ngāti Mamoe and Ngāi Tahu, who remain associated with the area, all visited and lived in the vicinity. At one time up to 12 kainga existed in the lower Otago harbour. The coastline was a major trade route. Tauranga waka and associated nohoanga occurred up and down the coast, linking sea and land based resources. The mahinga kai and the varieties of plant resources were important to iwi, and with the Pakeha settlement and land sales starting in the late 1840s (particularly the sale of the 400,000 acre Otago Block) there was a significant loss of access to land based food sources.

Dr Edward Hulme (1812-1876)

Hulme was born in Kent, England, in May 1812 to Alice and William, a captain in the Royal Staff Corps. At age 16 Edward Hulme was apprenticed at the Royal College of Surgeons in London. In 1834, after a six year apprenticeship and serving as the dresser of noted surgeon Sir Charles Bell, he was admitted as a Member of the Royal College of Surgeons (MRCS). In 1837 he obtained a Doctor of Medicine from the University of St Andrews. Hulme then settled in Exeter where, in 1845, he was elected to the Exeter Dispensary’s office of physician. A testimony following Hulme’s 1849 resignation spoke of his ‘great worth’ and that ‘his great skill and attention’ meant that ‘the poor generally preferred Dr Hulme.’

Hulme continued his studies, first in Paris and then Dublin. Yet Hulme ‘became restless, and decided to give up his profession and go to the new colony of which everyone was speaking. No doubt correspondence with his old friend Williams [Dr Williams, Colonial Surgeon in Dunedin] influenced him, and newspapers giving glowing account of the opportunities of investing money in land, sheep and cattle, would reach him….In addition to this, his half-brother Colonel Hulme, who had gone out to the colony 10 years before…further inclined him to try the new adventure’.

In October 1856 Hulme arrived at Port Chalmers as the ship’s surgeon on the Strathmore. Dr Williams resigned from his post at the hospital soon after and ‘on talking matters over with the settlers from the country and residents of the town’ Hulme applied for the vacant position. In January 1857 it was announced that Hulme was to be the new Provincial Surgeon at the Dunedin Hospital located in the Octagon (where the Town Hall now stands).

The influx of gold-seeking migrants transformed Hulme from a part-time public general practitioner into, what one historian has called, New Zealand’s first full-time health administrator. The doctor performed all the duties in the hospital, which ranged from care of the mentally ill, to amputations, to infectious diseases. The newspaper remarked that his duties were ‘excessively onerous and fatiguing’.

Hulme also lobbied for the creation of a separate mental hospital and the replacement of the city's existing unsatisfactory hospital. He became medical superintendent of the new Lunatic Asylum and Dunedin Gaol, while continuing his administration of the Hospital. He continued to encourage public health innovations which ‘developed a tradition of scientific medical research which eventually led to the development of Dunedin as the principal academic medical centre of this country…Hulme…kept the local authorities in New Zealand in touch with the latest public health research on the sources of epidemic disease (a significant cause of infant mortality in particular) and the need to develop practical and comprehensive schemes in the new settlements to deal with clean water reticulation and the disposal of sewage and garbage’.

Hulme was also President of the Otago Medical Board from 1864, where he attempted to improve the standard of medical practitioners; he served on the Town Board from 1862; and was a foundation member of the Otago University Council in 1869. In the 1870s, during a court case, a lawyer suggested he had retired from practice. Hulme replied: ‘I can hardly say that…I think I am safely within a good margin if I say I see between two and three hundred patients daily.’

Hulme was the forerunner of the operating surgeons of Otago, in private and public practice. He also kept the local authorities informed on matters of public health including the need to have clean water reticulation and the proper disposal of sewage and garbage. Hulme also oversaw the introduction of ‘Listerism’, or regular use of antiseptic, into Otago. Such was his influence, that Hulme was recently named one of New Zealand’s first social entrepreneurs who fostered social innovation - one of just twenty, alongside the likes of Sir Truby King, Kate Sheppard, and Sir Apirana Ngata.

Hulme’s Court

In November 1856 sections 7, 8, 11, 12 and 13 in the Town of Dunedin, were put up for sale by the Waste Lands Board. Town Board rates records for 1857 show Hulme as the new owner. The sections were valued at £12 and were unoccupied. By 1858 section 6 had been added to Hulme’s holdings and a stable had been erected on one of the sections. By 1859 he also owned section 39 but no dwelling was recorded on any of the sections. Hulme now owned a sizeable amount of land between present day Dowling Street (renamed Tennyson Street in 1916) and Moray Place.

The rates moved substantially from £30 to £48 in March 1860. For the first time a dwelling house was noted on site. In March 1861 rates rose again to £72, indicating that the dwelling was enlarged during the year. The house was certainly complete by May 1861 when board and residence was advertised ‘opposite the residence of Dr. Hulme’.

The first available photographic evidence dates to 1862. Different roof heights indicate the house was built in stages, consistent with the rating records. Given the roof lines and the respective size of the portions, it is likely that the very first part of the house constructed was towards the corner of View and Dowling Streets (on the left of the image shown in Figure 1). There were likely two entrances; the front entrance from Dowling Street, and the rear entrance from, what was likely, the kitchen which provided access to View Street.

In February 1863 architect David Ross requested tenders for ‘extensive additions’ to the residence of Dr Hulme. David Ross is recognised as one of the most significant architects to have worked in Dunedin. Ross began his career in Scotland, immigrated to Victoria in 1853 and arrived in Dunedin in May 1862. He designed many of Dunedin’s noted buildings including the Imperial Hotel, Bank of Otago, the Otago Museum and the Prince of Wales Hotel. Hulme’s Court appears to be Ross’ first residential design in New Zealand. The resulting home was typical of his later architecture: ‘strong yet elegant, and rich yet unfussy design’.

Ross’ additions provided the footprint of the house as it is today. The original 1859-1860 portion of the house and chimney remained but the 1861 addition was largely subsumed within Ross’ alterations, which included a turret. Although the varying roof heights were unified, the changing floor levels on the interior continued to mark the the line between the original 1860/1861 dwelling and the 1863 addition.

Hulme’s completed residence was later described as four stories high, including the basement which sat above ground level. Atop the basement were the lower level, which gave access to View Street, and then the upper level at Dowling Street level. The top level was the room in the turret, accessed from the room below. Elegant details were added to the exterior including window boxes, scrolls, finials and lattice work.

Hulme ran a private consulting practice from home and it is believed that the doctor’s surgery was the middle level of the turret with a ‘sweeping bay window commanding a view in almost every direction’. The surgery also provided the only access to the turret, through a trap door in the ceiling. It is also likely that the small room between the turret and Tennyson Street functioned as a small foyer/waiting room. The Burton Brothers photograph (Figure 3), however, shows no external access to this ‘foyer’. As the 1860s building must have included stairs, they may have been located just beyond the original entrance door and wound up to the small waiting room.

The residence also contained four bedrooms, a sunroom, a drawing room, dining room, kitchen, box room and store rooms. The house included black-flecked marble fireplaces, two of which survive. The ceilings in the main rooms were moulded, and those on the upper level were a variety of pitches following the varied lines of the roof. It was built from a mix of imported Baltic pine and native timbers. The basement was stone.

Presumably there were also servant’s quarters, perhaps adjacent to the kitchen on the ground floor. Hulme’s housekeeper was Amelia Provost. Born c.1821, Miss Provost immigrated with her brothers to New Zealand on board the Alpine in 1859. This placed her in Dunedin as an almost 40 year old spinster in need of work, just as Hulme was building his home. Amelia was the first beneficiary mentioned in Hulme’s will and he left her an annuity of £60.

Hulme was a keen gardener and horticulturist, and there were a number of outbuildings, including glasshouses on site. His fruit was prizewinning. The garden had ‘fine fruit trees, and grew famous grapes.’

Hulme died suddenly on 27 December 1876, aged 64. He was remembered as ‘an able surgeon, and carried on his consulting practice to such good purpose that when he died 7000 half sovereigns were found in his safe’. He was also described as:

rather reserved in his manner…and while many thought him very rough and inclined to be dictatorial others had pleasant recollections of the dry humour which showed in much of his conversation. When deeply engrossed with professional anxiety he was inclined to be brusque, if not absolutely rude, and was often thought unfeeling...of medium height and abrupt manner, he wore a snuff coloured surtout buttoned up to the chin, and a black bowler hat; he had a thick husky voice, and would say “Gad, sir, I told you to do so and so; why did you not do it?” He had a rooted objection to taking off his hat in response to a lady’s bow…

Yet contemporaries also remembered Hulme as a man with a ‘kindly and considerable manner’ and his ‘cheery greeting would be missed.’ He was also known to be ‘liberal to a remarkable degree in letting money lie out of his pocket…in the shape of uncollected fees…and also never hesitated to give his time to those who could not afford to pay for medical advice’.

Hulme left his estate to his sister Maria’s children. John, William and Maria Hart lived in England but nephew Edward Hulme Hart lived in Dunedin and managed the estate. Hart was married to Captain William Cargill’s granddaughter, Frances Cutten, and was in partnership with his grandson, Francis. Hart’s father-in-law, William Henry Cutten, was a politician, and owner and founder of the Otago Witness and Otago Daily Times. This link may explain why, following Hulme’s death, Cutten took

over residence of the house for much of 1877 and 1878.

Dr John Wilkins(1826-1905)

Dr Wilkins was the second doctor to take up residence. The architecture of the house, including the surgery, and its central location, marked it out as a natural doctor’s residence. Wilkins arrived in Dunedin in 1877 from Melbourne. In May 1878 he moved into the house.

Dr Wilkins’ residency was short. Controversy followed him, and statements he made concerning his own expertise were called into question by a fellow doctor in 1878. Leaving Dunedin in 1879, he was later charged with manslaughter after an ‘illegal operation’ led to the death of his female patient.

Dr Alexander Hyndman Neill (1836-1893)

By 1880 Dr Neill was in residence. In 1878 Neill visited New Zealand with the 5th Lancers Company and he returned in October 1879 as the doctor in charge of the immigrant ship Timaru.

Photographic evidence indicates it was during Neil’s residency that a narrow lean to structure was added to the ground floor of the home. It was not part of Ross’ additions. It appeared to have large openings and may have been a stable. In the twentieth century it was used as a carport.

In June 1881 Neill advertised a ‘family residence to let containing eleven rooms, with garden, vineries, stabling etc.’ Neill was soon to take up the management of Seacliff Asylum.

Dr Alexander John Fergusson (1840-1897)

In June 1884 Dr Fergusson moved into the residence, which eight years after his death was still referred to as ‘the house formerly occupied by the late Dr Hulme’. Fergusson also used the residence as part private consulting rooms.

Fergusson was the medical officer with the Lodge of Oddfellows and a surgeon at Dunedin Hospital. His specialty was eyes and he was even referred to the ‘the Eminent Eye Doctor of Dunedin’. He was also doctor to Bishop Moran and was highly-esteemed by the Catholics of Dunedin and Otago.

Fergusson lived in and worked from Hulme’s former home until 1896. His death came a year later in 1897. The newspaper remarked that there were ‘few men in Otago who were better or more favourably known’ than Fergusson and ‘fully eight out of ten people, between here and Balclutha were personally acquainted with him, and his generous, open-hearted, high-spirited qualities…’

‘Superior Board and Residence’

In March 1896 the house was first observably referred to as ‘Hulme’s Court. Mrs Sarah Walls established a boarding residence in the house. Directories indicate up to four, probably single, gentlemen were in residence in any given year.

Mrs Walls was followed by Miss L.A. Connnell in 1900. She likely catered for married couples as a Mrs Meldrum advertised for a ‘nurse girl’ at Hulmescourt in 1901. In July 1901 Miss Connell , who was leaving the colony, held a sale of ‘fine and extensive furnishings’ including the residence’s linoleum and stair carpet.

Mrs Macdonald took over the boarding establishment in 1901. Under Mrs Macdonald’s regime, the boarding establishment was likely for single men only. The atmosphere of the residence must have been convivial. For example the ‘Hulmescourt’ team entered a ping pong tournament in May 1902. When Mrs Macdonald eventually closed the establishment some years later, her ‘gentlemen boarders’ presented her with a travelling trunk, spoke of her ‘many good qualities, and expressed the regret that they all felt at her decision to leave Dunedin’.

In 1906 Hulme’s estate was subdivided and the sections put up for sale by Edward Hulme Hart, who still owned the estate in tandem with his siblings. ‘Hulme’s Court House and Freehold’ became Lot 4 and was 75 x 117 feet (22.86 x 35.66 metres). Four of Hulme’s Court substantial outbuildings were divided over Lots 1, 2 and 3.

After the sale, in early November, Mrs Macdonald advertised the furniture of Hulme’s Court for sale and the stable for removal. She had decided to retire to Wellington.

The new owner of Hulme’s Court was Alexander Campbell. He had sold his Middlevale farm, near Gore, in May of that year. Yet Campbell’s occupation was brief – he died at Hulme’s Court in September 1907. His widow Jane remained in the house until 1913.

Signor Raffaello Squarise (1856-1945)

In 1913, Signor Squarise purchased Hulme’s Court. Born in Vicenza Italy, at the age of 12 he entered the Liceo Musicale in Turin. He graduated in the mid-1870s with a master's diploma in violin and composition. In 1882 Squarise immigrated to Australia and began work with a Melbourne opera company. He soon moved to Adelaide where, in 1887, he married Louise Villanis.

In 1889 Squarise left his position as leader of the Theatre Royal Orchestra to lead the orchestra for Dunedin’s New Zealand and South Seas Exhibition. Once in town ‘his performing abilities were instantly recognised by the public…’and at the end of the Exhibition, Squarise decided to stay.

Squarise quickly became ‘one of a talented group who were to develop enormously Dunedin's enthusiasm for and participation in classical music. As a result of their efforts the musical life of the city grew to impressive proportions in quantity and quality. ’ In 1904 he formed a string orchestra – the Dunedin Philharmonic Society. The orchestra held 28 seasons, 27 conducted by Squarise, and its success ‘was due to Squarise's skills as a music director and teacher.’ He saw the Philharmonic ‘as a means of uplifting the artistic tastes of our people and giving them some knowledge of what is doing in modern music.'

Squarise lived and taught music pupils from Hulme’s Court for over a decade before commissioning architect E.W. Walden to undertake alterations in 1924, with the aim of dividing the home into two flats. The plan saw a new porch and steps rising from Tennyson Street to the small room/foyer outside, what was likely, the surgery. The only access to this room/foyer had been the surgery – it had no access to the rest of the house. Walden now removed part of the wall and installed an archway to provide access to the home’s hallway. A new tiled fireplace was added to the surgery/music room. Three other bedrooms were shown on the plan, as well as a bathroom, kitchen and large new linen press. The kitchen was updated with a new gas range and new sink and bench.

Downstairs on the ground floor a new window was added to the 1880s lean-to, which no longer exists, beside the base of the turret. Inside, the old door to the kitchen quarters was closed off to create a small bathroom. A new door was created from the hall to the kitchen, which included a large range. Off the kitchen was a room with benches and sink, no doubt the scullery. This room had lost half its space to the new bathroom. New linen presses were also added below the stairs and the stairway was slightly altered. Each floor could now function as a separate apartment.

In 1933 Squarise retired from public life, but continued to teach music. By 1937 the house had become a dwelling for two couples. Squarise and his wife were listed at 52a Tennyson Street. Frederick Morrison, an accountant, and his wife Flora probably occupied the 52 Tennyson Street.

Louise died at Hulme’s Court in 1941. Her obituary noted that she was a prominent Red Cross worker during the First World War and taught many soldiers conversational French before they went abroad. Described as ‘Dunedin’s chief musical asset’, ‘Old Square Eyes’ died on 15 April 9 July 1945.

Frederick and Flora Morrison

In 1946 Hulme’s Court was purchased by the Morrisons. In 1950 they hired builder H.E. Tyrrell to make alterations and additions to their home. The changes were made on the front portion facing Tennyson Street. The drawings referred to the top and bottom flats and indeed directories indicate the Morrisons continued to live at 52 Tennyson Street while renting out 52a. A porch was built over the steps leading up from Tennyson Street. Additional steps were built to the front and rear entrances of the bottom flat. A garage was also added to the extreme left of the property in 1926.

On the interior, the double sash window of ‘Bedroom 4’ facing Tennyson Street was replaced by a multi-paned awning window. Bedroom 4 became a living room and the range was replaced by a gas fire. Beside the, now, living room was the kitchen. Its exterior wall, facing Tennyson Street, was extended to meet the line of the living room exterior wall and another multi-paned awning window was added. The room was extended by approximately one quarter of its original size. New appliances were fitted into the additional space and the bathroom behind was also extended and rearranged. This area, with its exterior chimney is likely the first part of the house ever built.

Frederick died in 1959 but Flora remained at Tennyson Street. Further alterations were made: the interior stairway was stopped, doors were blocked and others put in. Flora died in her home in 1979, aged 82.

Glenys Kindley then purchased Hulme’s Court. She restored original doorways and passages and returned rooms to their original function. For the next few owners, Hulme’s Court functioned as a private family home. The former surgery became a study.

In 1997 Norman Wood purchased the house and opened ‘Hulmes Court Bed and Breakfast’. Various alterations were made, including the addition of ensuites, to meet the needs of a bed and breakfast.

Hulme’s Court is now marketed on various tourism and accommodation sites. It is described as ‘an architectural treasure situated right in the heart of Dunedin’. When it was placed on the market in 2017, the news was reported in national newspapers and websites. It was described as a ‘grand mansion’ and ‘one of Dunedin’s most highly regarded residential buildings’.

Despite alterations and the passage of almost 160 years, Hulme’s Court retains much of its original footprint and ornamentation – and its quirky sense of grandeur.

t and ornamentation – and its quirky sense of grandeur.

Physical Description

Current Description


The view of Hulme’s Court from the street is picturesque. The turret, pitched rooflines and elegant exterior details create a highly pleasing aesthetic. The somewhat higgledy-piggledy nature of the building also indicates a residence of some age. Although four stories high, much of Hulme’s Court sits below street level so that the middle of the turret is almost at eye level. This serves to heighten the awareness of the passer-by, who need not look up to appreciate the visual appeal of the architecture.

The exterior is timber weatherboard. The turret sits prominently on the corner of the house. The line of the turret roof arches above small round headed windows, which are typical of Ross’ design style. Below the narrow windows are pediments supported by two scrolls. These originally held flower boxes. Finials decorate the rooflines.

The north west elevation is the front of the building. The line of the residence steps back and forth in an asymmetrical manner. The windows do not conform to any particular pattern. The main entrance sits beside the bottom of the turret.

The north east elevation, which looks out over the city below, is perhaps the most symmetrical. Narrow stepping provides the impression of two bay windows. The timber around the windows is fixed vertically to provide further distinction from the horizontal line of the wall. The bay windows are pairs of double hung sash windows. On the floor above is a single double hung sash window.

The south east aspect of Hulme’s Court is perhaps the most asymmetrical. There is a door to the basement and a tall chimney which runs the height of the building. Up several exterior concrete steps are a narrow set of timber stairs which lead to the rear door under the interior stairs. Further up is another set of timber steps that leads to a narrow kitchen, which may have been the original 1860 kitchen. The remainder of the elevation is set up against the boundary. It includes the original chimney seen in the earliest photographs of the house.

The southwest elevation runs along Tennyson Street. This aspect has seen the most twentieth century alteration. The exterior wall of the kitchen was extended and now sits more in line with the rest of the elevation. Its square roof line and lack of foundation below is aesthetically unpleasing. The windows date to the 1950s. The remainder of the elevation is made up of two gables. One had an entrance added to it sometime after the mid-1870s –in 1924 Walden either replaced existing steps or newly created access to the ‘Entrance hall’. The front door and windows date to the 1950s, replacing earlier fittings. On the lower floor, below the porch stairs is the original entrance way to the house. It now serves as a rear door.


Through the main entrance door is a relatively small and unimposing foyer. Timber panelling adorns the bottom half of the wall and subtle stained glass frames the door. The foyer leads into the hallway which is ‘T’ shaped. Forming the top of the ‘T’ is the foyer at one end and the stairs at the other. Running horizontally at the top of the ‘T’ is the largest room in the house. Accessed through a fine set of timber double doors, the ‘Breakfast Room’ is a sunny and light space with beautiful views of the town and harbour. On earlier plans the room was designated as the ‘Drawing Room’. There are a number of double hung sash windows, an original black-flecked marble fire place, and a ceiling rose. Original bare floorboards, deep skirting, and panelling beneath the windows complete the sense of grandeur.

Returning to the hall way, and the stalk of the ‘T’, are the bedrooms and utility rooms. After the stairs, on the left, is a bathroom. Next is a narrow corridor, created in 1999, which leads from the main hall to what was probably the original kitchen. This kitchen includes a stained glass window and access to the rear off the property. The kitchen may have been halved in size to create the adjacent bathroom. Returning to the hall way, the adjacent room is now a bedroom called the ‘Forest Ensuite Room’. Tucked below the level of Dowling Street, this room once housed a coal range. What may have been part of a 1860s staircase is now the Forest bedroom’s ensuite.

At the end of the hall way is a door which accesses the 1860s entrance hall and front door. Opposite the Forest room is the ‘Rose’ bedroom. The origins of this room are unclear. By the 1880s a narrow lean-to, which ran parallel to Tennyson Street, was added to the ground floor. The previous owner told Norman Wood it was like a lean-to structure which became dilapidated and was removed. Whether the Rose room was part of the 1880s lean-to or part of the Ross additions is unclear.

Adjacent to the Rose bedroom and almost three times its size is the ‘Persian Room’. With a beautiful bay window, it sits at the base of the turret. As it contains a large original black-flecked marble fireplace, it may have been another formal reception room.

Returning to the staircase, dado lines the walls. A pair of stained glass lancet windows decorates and lightens the space. These stairs are part of Ross’ c.1863 additions. The stairs exit into the upstairs hallway. At the opposite end, is a bathroom which was once a linen press. On the right are two bedrooms: the ‘Flower’ room and the ‘African’ room. They sit above the breakfast room and have views of the city and harbour.

In the middle of this hallway, another passageway branches to the west. At the junction of these two hallways, two steps are required as the level of the house changes. This gives much insight into the stages of the building. Everything to the east, the higher side, is Ross’ c.1863 addition while rooms to the west of the junction likely date to the 1860s (turret aside).

A bathroom lies to the left of the 1860s hallway and to the right is the ‘Turret’ room. The turret was part of Ross’ c.1863 additions and it is this room which was used as Hulme’s surgery The adjacent foyer was likely a waiting room of sorts. Some of the space in the former surgery has now been dedicated to an ensuite. A trapdoor in the ceiling leads to the small room directly below the turret, currently used for storage.

At the end of the hallway is the ‘Art Deco’ room, formerly a kitchen to the uppermost flat. Next door is the ‘Book’ room, which was the living room to the flat. Both of these rooms overlook Tennyson Street. Finally, there is the small foyer, once waiting room, with access to Tennyson Street.


Doctors’ residence/surgeries

Hulme’s Court is a very early surviving example of a private residence also used for the provision of private medical services. It is one of a small group of surviving structures dating to the earliest days of New Zealand’s medical care. Of this group only The Gables (List No. 29, historic place, Category 1), an early colonial hospital, is earlier than Hulme’s Court. Built in 1848 in New Plymouth, it was one of four hospitals erected on the order of Governor Sir George Grey to care for Māori and Pakeha. While historically important as the first attempt to provide quality medical care to all New Zealanders, it represents the public face of medical services rather than the private consultations offered by Dr Hulme.

Dr Thomas Hocken’s house ‘Atahapara’ was built in 1869 and like Hulme’s Court is an early example of a combined residence and private surgery in Dunedin. Dr Hocken, like Hulme, was a prominent Dunedin doctor although his fame now lies in his visionary collection of archives relating to the settlement of New Zealand – immortalised in the Hocken Collections. After Hocken’s death in 1910, Atahapara was let out and in 1915 Dr Leonard McBride leased the home as a residence and surgery. Atahapara then is an excellent comparison to Hulme’s Court in all but one respect – the house was demolished in 1920.

Like Hulme’s Court, Beale Cottage (List No. 769, Category 1), was purpose-built as a combined residence and private surgery for Dr Charles Beale of Hamilton. It is not as early a structure as Hulme’s Court: the combined residence/surgery was not built until 1872. Neither did it serve as a residence/surgery for many years. While Hulme’s Court was both the home and workplace for several different doctors for over 35 years, Beale Cottage’s tenure as a surgery was brief. Dr Beale was bankrupted in 1879 and the Cottage then became a simple residence for the new owner.

John Street Doctors (Child Cancer Foundation House, Wellington, List No.7570, historic place, Category 1), as it is now known, was used from 1894 by Dr William Alexander as both a doctor’s surgery and residence. Unlike Hulme’s Court, however, it was originally designed as a residence and it was another 17 years before the house found a secondary use as a doctor’s surgery. It was also a simple, timber building, in comparison to Hulme’s imposing, architecturally-designed residence. Interestingly both residences/surgeries were later associated with the arts: while Hulme’s Court became the residence and teaching space of Signor Squarise, John Street Doctors was associated with playwright Bruce Mason, who lived on the first floor of the building with his wife Dr Diana Mason between 1952 and 1953.

While Hulme’s Court was built in a central locale above Moray Place, in later years many of Dunedin’s doctors flocked to lower High Street. A number of residence/surgeries were built, including Dr Colquhoun’s Residence and Consulting rooms (List no. 5232, historic place, Category 2). The first structure on the site dates to the 1870s, later than Hulme’s Court. The original structure was altered considerably by Dr Colquhuon in the late 1870s and the resulting building has high aesthetic and architectural merit. Yet Hulme’s Court, while smaller and perhaps less architecturally cohesive, is equally impressive and aesthetically pleasing. In comparison to other surviving structures, Hulme’s Court also seems to be the earliest, purpose-built, residence and private surgery extant in New Zealand.

Earliest Extant Dunedin Residences

Work likely began on Hulme’s Court late in 1859, as the first dwelling on site was completed by March 1860 at the latest. Dunedin’s official settlement began in 1848 and it appears only a few residences dating to the 1850s still remain in the city.

Dunedin’s own oldest surviving residence dates to 1849. Ferntree Cottage (Category 1 List no. 368) was built by Scottish carpenter Robert Murray for Dunedin gentleman John Borton. He used upright, squared ferntree (ponga) logs, cut from the surrounding bush, and plastered together with clay. The whole was then contained and faced by timber framing. Like Hulme’s Court, the Cottage was added to - although not until 1902 by new owner Alexander Thomson.

Like Hulme’s Court, Clifton Villa (List no. 4804, historic place, Category 2) began with a small cottage on site and was added to over time. The original portion of Clifton Villa was known as Ebbin Cottage. It was built for John Boyle Todd, compositor and publisher of the Otago Witness. His death is recorded at the Cottage in 1854 and it is likely the Cottage was on site a few years preceding. The first portion of Hulme’s Court dating to 1859-1860 may be the third oldest Dunedin residence still extant, given our current understanding. Even if other 1850s cottages, as yet unidentified, still survive within the city, Hulme’s Court is certainly one of a select group of early surviving residential buildings.

Mansion-turned-accommodation house

One of the many factors that lend Hulme’s Court heritage significance is the way it exemplifies the fate of urban mansions around the turn of the twentieth century. Once the original wealthy owners had moved on, these large and grand homes often found another use as boarding accommodation. These businesses were more often than not run by women. Post Office Directories, for example, indicate a number of female-run boarding houses, well into the twentieth century. It was one of the few respectable businesses open to single or widowed women.

Similarly, Fairfield House (List No. 256, historic place, Category 1) built by 1872, found a second life as boarding accommodation. Occupying a prominent position in Nelson, it was the residence of Arthur Samuel Atkinson, brother of Premier Sir Harry Atkinson. After 1922 the large home was used as a boarding house.

Another example of a grand mansion that found a subsequent use was Woodside (List No. 2184, historic place, Category 1). Like Hulme’s Court, it was architecturally designed. The architect was Francis Petre, dubbed ‘Lord Concrete’, who was known for his early use of concrete. Built in 1876 for Supreme Court judge and prominent Dunedin citizen Henry Chapman, it became a post-War Jaw Hospital, and then was converted into accommodation. Now known as Lovelock House, it specialises in short stay accommodation, much like Hulme’s Court.

Combined residences and teaching rooms of prominent musicians

More than fifty years after its construction, Hulme’s Court enjoyed a renaissance as the home and teaching space of Italian maestro import, Signor Squarise. Music teachers have long taught pupils from spaces within their own home, yet there appear to be few residences recognised and protected for their association with prominent musicians and teachers. Heritage New Zealand’s List, for example, does not appear to include a residence where a prominent musician or entertainer used their home as a teaching space. The places that are on the List are either homes where unheralded everyday music teachers taught, or residences where important musicians lived and socialised. Wellington’s Lilburn House (List No. 7645, historic place, Category 1), for example, was the home of celebrated New Zealand composer Douglas Lilburn. His home ‘became a 'Mecca' for composers, musicians, and artists’ but his teaching space was at Victoria University.

Kaituna (List No. 4805, historic place, Category 2) in Dunedin provides an interesting comparison with Hulme’s Court as both a residence-turned-boarding establishment and as a private school which included musical education. From the early 1890s the Miss Collinsons took pupils from the primers up to standard six – all in the one room. Bertha Collinson taught music and represents the thousands of New Zealand music teachers who taught local children of no doubt varying abilities. No doubt Squarise taught a different class of musicians and his work lends Hulme’s Court ostensibly rare significance as not only the home but also the teaching place of a prominent and influential musician.

Construction Dates

Original Construction
- 1860
First part of residence erected

- 1861
Residence expanded

- 1863
David Ross additions

Addition of lean-to/stable

- 1924
E.W. Walden additions and alterations

- 1950
H.E. Tyrrell to make alterations and additions

- 1997
Alterations for Bread and Breakfast including ensuites

Construction Details

Bluestone foundation; Timber, Slate roof

Completion Date

25th February 2019

Report Written By

Susan Irvine

Information Sources

Galer, 1981

L. Galer, Houses and Homes, Allied Press, Dunedin, 1981

Te Ara - The Encyclopedia of New Zealand

Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand

Michael Belgrave, ‘Hulme, Edward’, published in the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography, vol. 1, 2010. Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, accessed 17 Apr 2018

Te Ara - The Encyclopedia of New Zealand

Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand

John D. Drummond, 'Squarise, Raffaello', first published in the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography, vol. 2, 1993. Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, URL:, accessed 17 Apr 2018.

Murray, 2005

David Murrary, ‘Raffaello Squarise (1856-1945): The Colonial Career of an Italian Maestro’ Doctoral thesis, Doctor of Philosophy, University of Otago, 2005, URL, accessed 11 May 2018.

Other Information

A fully referenced New Zealand Heritage List report is available on request from the Otago/Southland Office of Heritage New Zealand.


Please note that entry on the New Zealand Heritage List/Rārangi Kōrero 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.

Archaeological sites are protected by the Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga Act 2014, regardless of whether they are entered on the New Zealand Heritage List/Rārangi Kōrero or not. Archaeological sites include ‘places associated with pre-1900 human activity, where there may be evidence relating to the history of New Zealand’. This List entry report should not be read as a statement on whether or not the archaeological provisions of the Act apply to the property (s) concerned. Please contact your local Heritage New Zealand office for archaeological advice.