Corstorphine House

23A Milburn Street, Corstorphine, Dunedin

  • Corstorphine House. Image courtesy of® and licensed under the Creative Commons 3.0 License.
    Copyright: Copyright - Open2View© 2016.
  • Coestorphine House. Image courtesy of® and licensed under the Creative Commons 3.0 License.
    Copyright: Copyright - Open2View© 2016.
  • Corstorphine House. Interior feature. Image courtesy of® and licensed under the Creative Commons 3.0 License.
    Copyright: Copyright - Open2View© 2016.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 1 Public Access Private/No Public Access
List Number 4760 Date Entered 27th July 1988


City/District Council

Dunedin City


Otago Region

Legal description

Pt Lot 2 DP 9091 Lot 28 DP 10755

Assessment criteriaopen/close

Historical Significance or Value

Corstorphine House was the home of the Sidey family from the early 1860s until 1957. John Sidey is said to have built a small cottage on the property after his marriage in 1858 and began work on the present house in 1863. This does not tally with the Land Registry records which show that David Calder, settler, was given the grant on the land in 1862, received the freehold by application in 1872 and sold to John Sidey in 1874. However, in the land records for the section owned by John Sidey on which the Southern Cross Hotel stands, Sidey is described in 1860 as settler of Corstorphine near Dunedin. He also raised a mortgage of 300 pounds in 1857 and gave up his store on the High Street land at the same time. It is likely that the land ownership of Corstorphine was delayed in being transferred because of difficulties with the Crown grant system.

The northern wing of the house was built first and had its front door where a hall ends at the big stained glassed window. In 1909 the land was transferred to the names of John and his two sons, Thomas and Arthur. About 1910 when John Sidey was in his eighties, the house was extended to about triple its size, presumably for the sake of T K Sidey, by then joint owner of the property. The latter had been Mayor of Caversham (1894-1899, 1901) and held the Caversham seat and after 1908 the Dunedin South seat in Parliament. He introduced the Dentists' Bill in 1904 which led to the establishment of the Dental School in Dunedin. He was also Chancellor of the University (1925-1933). The family presented the University with a clock for the clock tower in 1927 to commemorate Sir Thomas's success in introducing a Daylight Saving bill which he had promoted since 1909. His son, T K S Sidey, has been Councillor and Mayor of Dunedin.

Architectural Significance:

This is a large but simply designed version of the Dunedin villa without the usual double storied bay windows. It is one of the few Dunedin villas showing Palladian influence.

Townscape/landmark Significance:

The gardens form a significant green space in the suburban slope above Caversham.


Additional informationopen/close

Physical Description


John Sidey probably designed the first part himself Mandeno and Fraser upgraded the house in the 1920s.

Significance of Architect/Engineer/Designer:

John Sidey arrived in New Zealand in 1848, after being in business in London with his father as a building contractor.

Architectural Description (Style):

The house is relatively sober and classical in its styling, more Georgian than Victorian, though it lacks the strict symmetry of Georgian houses. The two wings on either side of a central section reflect Palladian classical design. The wrought iron friezes over the verandahs add a colonial touch. The window heads are square except for the arched stained glass window in the place of the old front door.


The house has been relatively little modified in its conversion to a home for disabled women. The exterior is unmodified and still retains seven acres of large gardens.

Notable Features

Its early date, its Palladian design, the unmodified interior, especially the gold drawing room and large art nouveau window, its garden setting and its association with the Sidey family who have served the city for over 100 years.

Construction Dates

Original Construction
1863 - 1864
For the oldest and northern wing

Construction Details

This is a long two storied house of two wings with a large middle section set back behind a verandah with a wrought iron frieze and double posts alongside a classical porch of columns and a pediment at the front door. There are three main living rooms downstairs - the billiard room, the gold drawing room with an ornate coffered ceiling, and the dining room - and seven bedrooms upstairs. The interior retains its splendid plaster ceilings, the original fireplaces, wooden panelling and joinery and much of the Sidey furniture. There is a particularly ornate sideboard. The stained glass window of 1910 is a fine piece of Art Nouveau work.

Information Sources

Galer, 1984

L Galer, Further Houses and Homes, Dunedin, 1984

Rutherford, 1978

A Rutherford, The Edge of Town. 1978

Other Information

This historic place was registered under the Historic Places Act 1980. This report includes the text from the original Building Classification Committee report considered by the NZHPT Board at the time of registration.

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.