2 Willowbank Street, Dunedin

  • Original image submitted at time of registration.
    Copyright: NZHPT Field Record Form.
  • Image courtesy of
    Copyright: Google Maps 2012.
  • Image courtesy of
    Copyright: Google Maps 2012.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 2 Public Access Private/No Public Access
List Number 7431 Date Entered 28th August 1998


City/District Council

Dunedin City


Otago Region

Legal description

Allot 5 DP 265 & pt Sec 20 Blk XXXIV, Town of Dunedin

Assessment criteriaopen/close

This historic place was registered under the Historic Places Act 1993. The following text is from the original Historic Place Assessment Under Section 23 Criteria report considered by the NZHPT Board at the time of registration.


The House at 2 Willowbank Street, Dunedin, was designed in the Victorian Colonial Box Cottage style on the period 1837-1880. Style indicators are:

- Plain Georgian styling with gable ends and symmetrical arrangement on street elevation of a centrally placed door with flanking windows on either side.

- Conventional 4 room plan with central hall running from front to back.

- Steeply pitched gable roof form.

- Brick chimneys with corbelled tops placed on roof ridgeline.

- Regular colonial joinery for door and window frames.

- Red brick walls with contrasting white plaster window reveals, window and door surrounds.

- Corrugated iron roofing, possibly of a later date.

- Round-headed segmented door opening giving a Georgian appearance to the cottage.

This historic place was registered under the Historic Places Act 1993. The following text is from the original Historic Place Assessment Under Section 23 Criteria report considered by the NZHPT Board at the time of registration.

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

DATE: Pre 1875


Not Known


19: Victorian. Colonial Georgian Box Cottage of the period 1837-1880


The Willowbank Street House reflects the basic simplicity of New Zealand's early domestic houses where a simple rectangular box-like house, with from two to four rooms, was all that most people could afford to build. The Willowbank Street House is in plan form a rectangular four roomed domestic dwelling and is technically, because of its simple plan, a cottage rather than a house.

The basic plan of the place, however, with its four rooms connected by a hall and solid brick construction, was a step above the subsistence level planning characteristic of New Zealand's earliest box cottages from the 1840s through to the 1860s, which were constructed of anything from totara slabs to cob, and where two rooms only were not uncommon and served as "parlour...and everything."

Interior decorative features of the Willowbank Street House/Cottage such as skirtings, door and window architrave's, mantle-pieces, and fireplaces, are examples of conventional colonial period joinery, but it should be noted that the place has one or two additional features that make the cottage a cut above the ordinary. Picture rails for example, which 0ccur in the front rooms of the place, were a feature of larger

villas as were the Lyncrusta Dados which can be seen in the dining room with their abstract geometrical and flower patterns. The fireplace in the front room also represents a type more commonly found in larger villas having a set of ten Victorian painted tiles (five a side) depicting a floral theme on white background. The ceilings of the front rooms are also divided up by moulded battens running full length into moulded cornices representing, again, a refinement of detailing not normally associated with box cottages but rather with villas. These additional features give the interior of the Willowbank Street house a sense of spaciousness associated with larger houses of a later period.

(m) Such additional criteria not inconsistent with those in paragraphs (a) to (k):

There are 200 registered cottages/houses built between 1840 and 1880, the latter date being around about the last time colonial box cottages appeared in New Zealand before being superseded by the Early New Zealand Villa style.

The simple Box Cottage style is well represented in the South island by timber built examples such as Williams Cottage in Queenstown, 1866-67, Cat.I, or cob built buildings such as Tiptree Cottage, Christchurch, Cat.I. Stone built examples of the style form a type of vernacular building in South Canterbury.

Dunedin is notable for having predominantly brick-built examples of domestic housing although very few examples of colonial box cottages have survived, presumably because of the relatively early pre. 1880s date for this style of architecture. The vast majority of Dunedin's historic housing stock consists of examples of the single and two-storeyed villa, in both its early and developed form from the 1870s on. Other examples consist of the Queen Anne style, mostly in two storeyed versions such as can be found in the George Street precinct, and a range of English Domestic Revival styles including the popular Tudoresque style and the Voysey inspired buildings of Basil Hooper.

A survey of registered houses in Dunedin produced just four examples of the Victorian Colonial Box Cottage, viz., House, 1008 George Street; House, 1014 George Street; House, 29 Currie Street, Port Chalmers; House, 31 Currie Street, Port Chalmers. The two Port Chalmers cottages are delightful examples of stone rubble brought to course construction with Classical pedimented Georgian entrances. By contrast the two George Street cottages appear, at least superficially, to be built by the same person who built the. Willowbank Street cottage since all the details are nearly identical down to and including the segmented-arched main door opening. The differences are relatively minor in that the plaster window and door surrounds of the George Street cottages are treated in a distinctive quoin like form, while the chimneys are not on the roof ridgeline but on the roof slope; the gable ends are also plain brick whereas the gable ends of the Willowbank Street cottage are plastered with a parapet (please see comparative photographs accompanying this assessment). It may be relevant to note that Willowbank Street runs off George Street at the north end of the Dunedin Central Business District although further research is required to establish if the two George Street Cottages identified above are in the same vicinity as the Willowbank Street cottage.

There is no information about the builder or designer of any of the above houses, but there is a sufficiently strong visual similarity between the stylistic treatment of the George Street cottages and the Willowbank Street cottage to suggest that they may form a theme on the work of a particular builder, and that as a trio these houses are all relatively rare (for Dunedin) pre.1875 Victorian Colonial Box Cottages.


Additional informationopen/close

Construction Dates

Original Construction
1875 -

Completion Date

1st May 1998

Report Written By

Wayne Nelson

Other Information

A copy of the original 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.