Condells House (Former)

33 Rolleston Avenue, Christs College, Christchurch

  • Condells House (Former).
    Copyright: NZ Historic Places Trust.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 2 Public Access Private/No Public Access
List Number 4913 Date Entered 25th June 2004


City/District Council

Christchurch City


Canterbury Region

Legal description

Pt Res 25 (CT CB436/70)

Location description

The 1878 portion of the building, its fixtures and fittings, and the land on CT CB436/70


Christ's College, Christchurch's well-known Anglican boys' secondary school was founded in the Immigration Barracks in Lyttelton in 1850, and moved to Christchurch the following year. The school began to develop its Rolleston Avenue site in 1857, and over nearly 150 years has built a remarkable complex of buildings in a wide variety of styles. As a consequence, Christ's College is acknowledged as one of New Zealand's most handsome built environments. Condells House is important as the second oldest building (after Big School/Library) and the only timber building remaining on the Rolleston Avenue site. It also makes a significant contribution to the quadrangle, the highly visible 'shop front' of the school.

Condells House at Christ's College was designed by architect Thomas Cane, and constructed by James Goss in 1878 at a cost of £1,800. Originally it provided accommodation for a Housemaster and boarders on the first floor, and classrooms on the ground floor. T. D. Condell, the first Old Boy to join the staff when he became a Master in 1867, became the first Housemaster. Condell lived in the building with about 20 boarders until 1893, when he retired. Due to a decline in numbers it then served as a Master's residence until 1918. At that point a substantial dormitory wing was added to the south and west, and the following year the building reopened as a boarding house (Jenkins) with 42 boarders. The Condell name was resumed in 1923. In 1932 the boarding house again closed due to declining numbers, and the building became a Master's residence once more. However, it reopened as a Day-Boy Waiting House in 1935, and as a fully-fledged Day-Boy House, Condell House, in 1940. The western end continued to serve as a Master's residence for the Tothill family from 1937 until 1954.

In 1960 the first of a series of significant renovations was carried out to accommodate Corfe (another day-boy house) with Condell. Warren and Mahoney made further alterations to accommodate a rising role in 1975-76, and 1978. Locker and shower rooms were added to the southern wing at this time. In 1984 a new western wing was added to house the art and photography departments. The most substantial alteration to Condell's House, however, took place in 2001-2. At this time a new four storey block designed by Warren/Wilkie and Bruce, was wrapped around the south and west elevations of the building, to contain the art and technology departments. This involved the demolition of the western (1918/84) and southern (1918/77) wings of the existing building. The core 1878 building now contains meeting rooms, choir vestry, chaplain's study, and a religious education room. Some internal modification was carried out, although original spaces remain - most notably on the ground floor. Upon commencement of work, Corfe Condell day boys' house shifted to new premises on Gloucester St, taking the name with them. The original Condells House was subsequently renamed 'Selwyn'.

Thomas Cane (1830-1905) was born in Brighton, England, and worked for Sir George Gilbert Scott before emigrating to Canterbury in 1874. Cane succeeded Benjamin Mountfort as Provincial Architect in 1875, but became Education Board architect following the abolition of the provinces in 1876. Buildings designed by Cane include the Lyttelton Time Ball Station (1876), original Christchurch Girls High School (1876), and St. John's Church, Winchester (1879). Cane was also an accomplished water colourist.

Assessment criteriaopen/close

Historical Significance or Value

It is also important historically as the oldest timber building and the second oldest building on the College site, and for its association with various College's personalities and pupils.

Condells House has aesthetic significance through the timber interpretation of Gothic forms which are a feature of its design, and in the manner that it complements the other buildings of the College Quadrangle. It has architectural significance as an example of the work of noted Christchurch architect Thomas Cane, and as an example of a timber neo-gothic educational building.

(a)Is a key component of the group of historic buildings which comprise Christ's College, the oldest educational institution in Canterbury. The original group of school buildings were constructed of timber and gradually were replaced by stone structures. Condells House is now the only reminder of those first timber buildings.

(e) It is held in high esteem by its Old Boys and other Collegians who successfully opposed demolition of the building, ensuring that it was preserved and restored when the 2001-2 extension was made. To past pupils the building is a reminder of the generations of boys and masters who have been associated with it. The college complex as a whole is appreciated by the wider Canterbury community.

(k) This building forms a critical part of the historical and cultural complex of Christ's College.


Construction Professionalsopen/close

Cane, Thomas Walter

Thomas Cane (1830-1905) was born in Brighton, Sussex. For many years he worked for Sir Gilbert Scott, the celebrated architect of London. Cane came to Lyttelton in 1874 and succeeded Benjamin Woolfield Mountfort (1825-1898) as Provincial Architect for Canterbury. He held this position until the abolition of the provinces in 1876, making his name as a Christchurch architect.

Cane was responsible for Corfe House at Christ's College and for Christchurch Girls' High School which became the School of Art, and later an extension of the University of Canterbury Library. Cane also achieved recognition as a landscape artist.

Goss, James

No biography is currently available for this construction professional

Additional informationopen/close

Physical Description

A large square timber building of two storeys designed in a vernacular Gothic revival. The east elevation is characterised by two steep gables containing large arched windows. The south gable is crowned with a belvedere containing the school bell. The tall brick chimneys on each gable are a prominent feature.

Construction Dates

Original Construction
1878 -

1918 -

1960 -
Alterations for Corfe and Condell dayboy houses.

1975 - 1978
Alterations and additions.

1984 -
Addition for art and photography departments.

2001 - 2002
Partial demolition and substantial additions for art and technology departments.

Construction Details

Timber with brick chimneys.

Completion Date

3rd September 2004

Report Written By

Pam Wilson

Information Sources

Blackie, nd

C Blakie, Condell's House 1879-1979 Unpublished.

Hamilton, 1991 (2)

D Hamilton, Wells, R. The Buildings of Christ's College 1850-1990 Christchurch, 1991.

pp. 28-29

New Zealand Historic Places Trust (NZHPT)

New Zealand Historic Places Trust

File 12015-028

Other Information

A fully referenced version of this report is available from the NZHPT Southern 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.