7 Ridge Lane, New Plymouth
List Entry Information
List Entry Status
List Entry Type
Historic Place Category 2
Private/No Public Access
24th February 1994
Extent of List Entry
Extent includes the land described as Lot 1 DP 16667 (CT TNH4/755), Taranaki Land District, and the building known as House thereon.
New Plymouth District
Lot 1 DP 16667 (CT TNH4/755), Taranaki Land District
Completed between 1897 and 1899, the house at 7 Ridge Lane is a two storey timber building designed by notable New Plymouth architect, Francis John (Frank) Messenger (1865–1945). The building has architectural importance as an early example of Messenger’s local residential work and is a representative example of Queen Anne style domestic architecture. The house also has local historical significance because of its association with prominent businessman and local politician, Charles Hayward Burgess (1860–1937), for whom it was built.
By the late nineteenth century Burgess had established himself as a well-known local businessman, having created the province’s first food wholesalers business, and he was also a Borough Councillor. Upon his death in 1937, Burgess was described as ‘[o]ne of Taranaki’s best-known public men and a noted benefactor of New Plymouth’.
During his 66-year architectural career Messenger designed around 315 structures, including many of New Plymouth’s iconic commercial buildings, churches, schools, and civic monuments, as well as domestic work. Messenger set up his architectural practice in 1893 and designed this house in 1897. He also recorded designing additions to the building in 1898 and 1900. Despite apparent on-going works, Burgess seems to have been residing in his ‘fine residence’, called St Kilda, by late 1899 and Messenger was his neighbour for a time.
Messenger’s early residential work seems to have predominantly been designing single or two storey villas, some with features similar to Burgess’ house, such as fancy shingles or stickwork on gable ends, multi-pane sash windows and ornamentally finished verandah posts and bracketing. However, the relatively complex form of Burgess’ house places it within the fashionable Queen Anne style. This main section of the house was supplemented with a rear rectangular, gabled wing.
When Burgess put the house on the market in 1906 it was promoted as ‘unquestionably the most attractive home in the Borough, and is well worthy of the attention of anyone desirous of acquiring a really choice homestead property’. Between 1918 and 1927 the house was owned by Walter Crowley Weston (1877–1961) a longstanding publisher of the Taranaki Herald who took sole charge of the newspaper in 1920, after his uncle’s death.
The property of this ‘truly ideal home’ initially extended down the hill to Gilbert Street, but subdivisions beginning in the 1930s reduced its size. The house’s original concept included what appears to be an external conservatory, but this was demolished by the mid-twentieth century. A porte cochere was attached at the house’s main entrance and in the late twentieth or early twenty-first century this was replaced by a garage.
There are several timber Queen Anne style residences on the New Zealand Heritage List/Rārangi Kōrero (the List), including grand houses like Gisborne’s Acton House and Garden (List No.7235) and Highden (List No. 1190) in the Manawatū. However, even smaller scale examples, such as Altrive (List No. 3264) in Southland or Trentham (List No. 4497) in Auckland, demonstrate the relative prosperity of their original owners. The Ridge Lane house is no exception and is architecturally comparable to other mid-sized examples, such as Hamilton’s Greenslade (List No. 4163) or Wodonga (List No. 9665) in Invercargill.
Messenger, Francis (Frank) John
Francis John Messenger was a New Plymouth architect. He practised from the 1890s until his death in 1945 and was responsible for a number of prominent buildings in Taranaki which cover a variety of building types. His work includes the verandah (1909) of New Plymouth's White Hart Hotel (1886, Cat I), extensions to St Mary's Church (Cat I), Shoe Store Building, 58 Rata Street (1910, Cat II), Inglewood Town Hall by Percival & Messenger (1913, Cat II), St Andrew's Anglican Church, Rata Street by Messenger, Griffiths & Taylor (1922-23, Cat II), the Cenotaph opposite St Aubyn Chambers (1924, Cat II) and the Taranaki Savings Bank Building, 89 Devon Street by Messenger, Griffiths and Taylor (1929-30, Cat II).
1897 - 1899
Additional building added to site
26th October 2017
Report Written By
Jeremy Salmond, Old New Zealand Houses, 1880-1940. Auckland: Reed, 1986.
Rhonda Bartle, ‘A Legacy in Design – Frank Messenger’, Puke Ariki, 6 Oct 2005, http://pukeariki.com/Learning-Research/Taranaki-Research-Centre/Taranaki-Stories/Taranaki-Story/id/343/title/a-legacy-in-design-frank-messenger, accessed 20 Oct 2017
A copy of the original report is available from the NZHPT Central 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.
A fully referenced upgrade report is available on request from the Central Office of Heritage New Zealand