Brownlee Homestead

Cook Street, Havelock

  • Brownlee Homestead, Havelock..
    Copyright: NZ Historic Places Trust. Taken By: D Watt. Date: 20/08/2010.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 1 Public Access Private/No Public Access
List Number 7289 Date Entered 14th December 1995

Locationopen/close

City/District Council

Marlborough District

Region

Marlborough Region

Legal description

Sec 6 & 7 , Town of Havelock

Assessment criteriaopen/close

Historical Significance or Value

This historic place was registered under the Historic Places Act 1993. The following text is from the original Recommendation for Registration considered by the NZHPT Board at the time of registration.

The Brownlee homestead was the domestic residence for many decades of the Brownlee family, originally of major local historical significance for its Marlborough timber-milling business and associated ventures in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

This historic place was registered under the Historic Places Act 1993. The following text is from the original Recommendation for Registration considered by the NZHPT Board at the time of registration.

Aesthetic:

This large homestead stands in a commanding position overlooking Havelock Harbour. Many features of the original gardens remain, as well as the circular driveway. House, garden and setting form a distinct visual unit, arguably the most impressive in Havelock township, as befits the former home of its most important merchant.

Architectural:

The Brownlee homestead was built in 1893 of local timbers. The concrete foundations and piles were an innovative feature of the times. Outwardly, the house shows remarkable restraint for the home of a prosperous sawmiller and timber merchant: it is a plain, two-storey, centre-gutter villa, with a pleasant verandah encompassing the house on four sides, held up by graceful paired posts. The plainness of the exterior belies the rich ornamentation of the interior - splendid fireplaces, wallpapers, lamp-shades, and general fittings. The deliberate playing down of the ostentatious exterior values by a rich man is uncommon in large houses of the era.

This historic place was registered under the Historic Places Act 1993. The following text is from the original Recommendation for Registration considered by the NZHPT Board at the time of registration.

Cultural/Social:

The Brownlee homestead, through its size, finishing and location near the former Brownlee business, reflects the lifestyle enjoyed by successful provincial middle class entrepreneurs.

This historic place was registered under the Historic Places Act 1993. The following text is from the original Recommendation for Registration considered by the NZHPT Board at the time of registration.

The following comments are made in relation to the criteria identified under S.23(2) of the Historic Places Act 1993.

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

The Brownlee homestead was designed by Richard Marshall, a Scottish architect who practiced at the time from Hereford Street, Christchurch. The house itself was built in 1893 of quality local timbers supplied, naturally, by William Brownlee himself.

The design of the homestead reflects accurately, both in its design and specifications, the unpretentious pragmatism of William Ross Brownlee. The exterior reveals a plain, two-storey, centre-gutter villa, with a pleasant balcony-verandah encompassing the house on four sides, held up by graceful paired posts. The balcony was a later (1910) addition. The facades are symmetrical. The eaves cornice features a panelled frieze and paired moulded brackets. The exterior is clad in rusticated weatherboarding of red pine, and finished at angles with rusticated quoins (which have been removed from the upper storey).

The upper windows are either paired or single square-headed, double hung sashes. The downstairs front windows are Venetian - a tripartite arrangement, with a large centre sash and two narrow flanking side lights. The main door is a solid feature with heavy raised panels. The sidelights and fanlights around the door feature obscured glass centres and cathedral glass margins of selected tints, as are as originally specified. An impressive feature of the fenestration is the staircase window set in an 8 by 4 foot frame; this is filled in variously with obscured figure centres, coloured margins and rosette corners, as well as stained-glass centres and figured margins of cathedral glass. There are panelled original doors on the south elevation and at the back of the house. The concrete foundations and piles were an innovative feature for the times.

The plainness of the exterior belies the rich ornamentation of the interior. International cultural influences are in evidence in the splendid tiled marble and faux fireplaces, wall papers, lamp-shades, the painted and gilded finishing work in doors and ceilings, and in the general fittings. There are specific decorative references to William Ross Brownlee and his Scottish birthplace; his initials are painted on the ceiling of the drawing room (the former dining room) and Scottish thistles are incorporated into the ceiling rose of the room.

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

The interior features of the house are rare. Conservation architect Stephen Cashmore states (in a letter included with the nomination form) that "In my view, the inside of the house is exemplary of the art of stencilled decoration and painted effects. It is the most highly decorated and skilfully executed example of this form of Victorian decoration I have yet seen in New Zealand".

Conclusion:

The Brownlee homestead, Havelock, is recommended for registration as a Category I as a place of special and outstanding historical and cultural heritage significance and value. The building is historically significant as the home of sawmiller William Brownlee. It also has architectural and aesthetic significance featuring particularly rare interior decoration.

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Construction Professionalsopen/close

Marshall, Richard

Richard Marshall was born on 17 April 1849. He was the son of Hugh Marshall, a builder of Musselburgh, Scotland. He trained in architecture at Edinburgh University gaining an M.A.A.E. He probably immigrated to New Zealand around 1884. Marshall’s first advertisement as an architect appeared in the Auckland Star on 8 December 1884, where he advertised for tenders for the construction of a villa. His offices were in Regent Street, Arch Hill.

By 21 January 1891, Marshall had moved to Christchurch. He advertised as an architect and building surveyor with offices at 158 Hereford Street. The Observer noted in 1893 that among ‘ex-Aucklanders who are thriving in Christchurch…[is] Mr R. Marshall, formerly connected with Auckland Caledonians, [who] is in business as an architect in the best part of the city, and is secretary of the Caledonian Society’.

Marshall married Margaret Lumsden in Christchurch on 28 April 1892. Margaret was from Invercargill.

In 1893, Marshall designed Brownlee Homestead in Havelock, now a registered Category I building. His wife’s Invercargill connections drew the couple southward. In January 1898, the Mataura Ensign noted that ‘Mr R. Marshall, a gentleman who has had considerable Home and colonial experience in his profession, announces that he has settled in Gore, and commenced business as an architect and building surveyor. No doubt Mr Marshall will secure a fair share of the patronage of those about to build’. Marshall won the contract to build the Gore Town Hall. Most of his tenders, however, were for domestic dwellings. In October 1900, Marshall announced his intention to move to Invercargill.

In 1905, Marshall represented Southland at the first meeting of the New Zealand Institute of Architects (NZIA). He was elected a Fellow of the Institute. Marshall continued his Invercargill practice until May 1914, when he retired due to ill health. Richard Marshall died in Invercargill on 6 November 1917.

Additional informationopen/close

Construction Dates

Original Construction
1893 -

Information Sources

New Zealand Historic Places

New Zealand Historic Places

P Mahoney, 'Innovation Isn't Easy', No 51, January 1995, pp.11-12

New Zealand Historic Places Trust (NZHPT)

New Zealand Historic Places Trust

Nomination Form

Johnston, 1991

M Johnston, Gold in a Tin Dish Vol 1: the History of the Wakamarina Goldfield, 1991

Roche, 1990

M Roche, History of New Zealand Forestry , 1990

Other Information

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.