Antonio House

265 Riccarton Road, Christchurch

  • Antonio House, circa 1930's. Courtesy of Andrew Kincaid.
    Copyright: Andrew Kincaid.
  • Antonio House showing some damage after 2011 earthquakes. http://www.flickr.com/photos/francisvallance/6568219957/in/pool-nzhpt_images_project.
    Copyright: Francis Vallance. Taken By: Francis Vallance. Date: 24/12/2011.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 2 Public Access Private/No Public Access
List Number 7336 Date Entered 25th October 1996

Locationopen/close

City/District Council

Christchurch City

Region

Canterbury Region

Legal description

Pt Lot 1 DP 52478 (CT CB31K/1108), Canterbury Land District

Summaryopen/close

Antonio House has been described as one of Christchurch's finest large homes. It consists of three inter-connected parts with the original portion being built as a family home for Thomas Kincaid (1853-1928), a retailer and city councillor, in 1909. Kincaid made a contribution to the business and civic life of the city during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. As with many well-off merchants of the time he moved to the suburbs and commissioned architects Clarkson and Ballantyne to design him a new and impressive residence.

Clarkson and Ballantyne had a varied practice based in Christchurch around the turn of the century and were noted for their large houses and for the former City Council Civic Office in Manchester Street, which is also registered with the New Zealand Historic Places Trust Pouhere Taonga.

The original portion of Antonio House consists of a two-storey dwelling with a hipped roof and cross gables that are separated by a double height verandah with a projecting semi-circular bay at the entrance. It was constructed in brick with Oamaru stone surrounds. Architecturally the original portion is a fine example of a shift in domestic architecture that took place around the turn of the century from Victorian Gothic domestic architecture to an eclectic style which combined elements of the English Domestic Revival style with various American features. The American features clearly visible at Antonio House include the shingles covering large parts of the exterior and the extensive use of the verandah. The house retained, however, the formal division of interior space characteristic of the English home and parts of the exterior are half-timbered in the Tudor style.

Antonio House was owned by a second Christchurch businessman, John Montgomery (1874-1946), between 1929 and 1946. Montgomery was a farmer and businessman, who served as the chair on the board of the Christchurch Press Company.

In 1946 Antonio House was purchased by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Christchurch, who opened it the following year as the Holy Name Seminary. Ten years previously, at the 1936 Council of Australian and New Zealand Bishops, it had been suggested that New Zealand needed a minor seminary. This suggestion was followed up by an order from Rome in 1939 to establish one, but World War II delayed this happening. Bishop Patrick Lyons, Bishop of Christchurch from 1944-1950, who was struggling to find priests for his diocese, pushed for the establishment of a minor seminary and consequently Holy Name was established in his diocese.

In effect Holy Name provided a secondary education for boys who intended to become priests, covering a gap in Catholic education that had occurred since the major seminary, Holy Cross at Mosgiel, stopped taking school age students in 1932. It was staffed by Fathers from the Society of Jesus in Australia and the domestic needs of the seminary were tended to by five Sisters of St Joseph of Cluny, who arrived from Ireland in 1948. It opened with 40 small boys and its roll rose to between 70 and 90 pupils, although only about a third of these would go on to become priests. The formal opening of the seminary in February 1947 was enlivened by the elderly Archbishop O'Shea who said how marvellous the opening of this 'cemetery' was and then proceeded to fall asleep during the Prime Minister Peter Fraser's speech (Norris, 1999:51).

As part of the conversion to a seminary various additions were made to Antonio House. The first, around 1950, was a two-storey extension to the east end of the house, which contained a refectory and a chapel on the ground floor and two large dormitories upstairs.

In 1955 Holy Name began to shift from the education of secondary school boys to teaching tertiary level philosophy to budding clerics. This change was required because of overcrowding at Holy Cross and by 1959 Holy Name had phased out secondary level teaching altogether.

As a result of this change the seminary was extended again in the early 1960s when a separate chapel and living quarters for over 100 students were built to the east of the 1950 addition. The bulk of the bedrooms were contained in one long two-storeyed wing which ran perpendicular to the main house. The cruciform chapel, located between the 1950 addition and the long dormitory wing, has an apsidal end, a hipped roof, arched windows and classical detailing and is noted for its parquet floor. The former chapel, in the 1950 addition became the library. All of the additions were designed by the architectural firm of Collins and Harman, and while sympathetic to the original house, were designed in a plain Post-War style.

By the 1970s the number of students at both seminaries declined significantly - in 1975 there were only 22 students at Holy Name; by 1979 this number had dropped to 13. Holy Name was assimilated into Holy Cross in 1979 and the Holy Name complex was eventually sold to become Antonio Hall Hostel. The complex was renamed Campion Hall and used as a hostel for university students.

The house returned to use as a private residence when it purchased by the Luisettis in 1991. For a time the chapel was used for weddings and the library as a reception room. The building complex now comprises 279 rooms with a floor area of 4355 square metres and is one of the largest private properties in Christchurch.

Antonio House is significant as one of the finest large houses built for wealthy Christchurch families around the beginning of the twentieth century. Its first two owners, Kincaid and Montgomery, were significant within the Christchurch community of their time. Architecturally the original portion is a significant example of the eclectic blend of English and American domestic architecture and is particularly interesting for its exterior amalgam of shingles, half-timbering, roughcast and other surface treatments. Antonio House subsequently played a major role in the history of the Catholic Church in New Zealand as one of two seminaries in the South Island where many priests gained their education. The buildings erected on the property during this period, including the chapel, stand as a reminder of this history. This change in use of Antonio House was typical of many large family homes, which became uneconomical to run as such during the course of the twentieth century. The house, associated buildings and grounds remain as a significant landmark on Riccarton Road.

Linksopen/close

Construction Professionalsopen/close

Clarkson & Ballantyne

No biography is currently available for this construction professional

Collins & Harman

One of the two oldest architectural firms in New Zealand, Armson, Collins and Harman was established by William Barnett Armson in 1870. After serving his articles with Armson, John James Collins (1855-1933) bought the practice after the former's death in 1883 and subsequently took Richard Dacre Harman (1859-1927) into partnership four years later. Collins' son, John Goddard Collins (1886-1973), joined the firm in 1903. Armson, Collins and Harman was one of Christchurch's leading architectural practices in the early years of this century.

Notable examples of the firm's work include the Christchurch Press Building (1909), Nazareth House (1909), the former Canterbury College Students Union (1927), the Nurses Memorial Chapel at Christchurch Public Hospital (1927) and the Sign of the Takahe (1936). Their domestic work includes Blue Cliffs Station Homestead (1889) and Meadowbank Homestead, Irwell. In 1928 the firm's name was simplified to Collins and Harman and the firm continues today as Collins Architects Ltd.

With a versatility and competence that betrayed the practice's debt to Armson's skill and professionalism, Collins and Harman designed a wide variety of building types in a range of styles.

Additional informationopen/close

Notable Features

The original garden at Antonio House or Kilmead as it was then known was laid out by noted landscape gardener, Alfred Buxton (1872-1950). Buxton is described by garden historian Thelma Strongman as 'one of the most influential and successful garden designers of the early days', and it became fashionable to have one's garden designed by him. The garden was created in two stages, the first for the original owner, Thomas Kincaid, and the second for John Montgomery during the 1930s.

The first part of the garden is thought to be one of the earliest landscaping jobs the Buxtons undertook. The 1930s contract created an elaborate system of pools, rustic arched bridges, a cascade, and Chinese Fan palms, landscaped in the latest 'Japanese' fashion. The garden remained an important part of the Holy Name Seminary. While most of the Buxton landscaping at Antonio House has been lost over the years a few remnants still remain, including a pond, a fan palm and a number of established trees, five of which (a weeping ash, southern magnolia, two weeping elms and an English elm) are listed as notable trees by the Christchurch City Council.

A two-storey convent for the Sisters of St Joseph of Cluny, was also erected on the grounds of Antonio House, plans for which were drawn up between 1967 and 1968.

Construction Dates

Original Construction
1909 -
Clarkson & Ballantyne architects

Addition
1950 -
Refactory, chapel (subsequently the library) and dormitories added. Plans dated 1948-1949 at Macmillan Brown Library

Addition
1963 -
Chapel and accommodation wing of 100 single rooms added. Plans dated 1961

Addition
1967 - 1969
Separate two-storey convent added

Completion Date

1st September 2003

Report Written By

Tanya Price/Melanie Lovell-Smith

Information Sources

Cattell, 1981

James W F Cattell, 'Domestic Architecture in Christchurch and Districts 1850-1938', MA thesis, University of Auckland, 1981

Christchurch Press

21 Dec 1985; 7 April 1993, p.57

Norris, 1999

Peter Norris, 'Southernmost Seminary: the Story of Holy Cross College, Mosgiel (1900-1997)', Auckland, 1999

O'Meeghan, 1988

Michael O'Meeghan, Held Firm by Faith: A History of the Catholic Diocese of Christchurch, 1840-1987, Christchurch, 1988

O'Brien, 1970

Bernard O'Brien SJ, 'A New Zealand Jesuit: A Personal Narrative', Christchurch, 1970

Penney, 1977

Sarah E W Penney, Beyond the City: The Land and its People, Riccarton, Waimairi, Paparua, Christchurch, 1977

Tipples, 1989

Rupert Tipples, Colonial Landscape Gardener: Alfred Buxton of Christchurch, New Zealand 1872-1950, Lincoln, 1989

pp.50-53

Waimairi District Council, 1983

Waimairi District Council, Living with the Past: Historical Buildings of the Waimairi District, Christchurch, 1983

pp.48-49

Other Information

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.