Dandie Dinmont Hotel (Former)
166 Portobello Road And Doon Street, Waverley, Dunedin
List Entry Information
List Entry Status
List Entry Type
Historic Place Category 2
Private/No Public Access
15th February 2008
Extent of List Entry
Registration includes the land described as Pt Lot 32 and Pt Lot 33 Blk I DP 289 and legal road, Otago Land District and the building known as the Dandie Dinmont Hotel (Former) thereon, and its fittings and fixtures. (Refer to Extent of Registration Map in Appendix 1 of the registration report for further information).
Lots 32 and 33 DP 289, Legal Road, (CT OT2D/940), Otago Land District
Constructed in 1880, the former Dandie Dinmont Hotel is located on Portobello Road, which runs along the base of Otago Peninsula next to the harbour. The building faces Portobello Road while Doon Street loops around the rear of the property. The building sits on a small parcel of land backed by steep tree-clad hills, with modern residences sitting nearby.
The Dandie Dinmont Hotel was designed by prominent Dunedin architectural partnership Mason and Wales for businessman and politician William Larnach (1833-1898). It is a good example of substantial nineteenth century residence cum hotel. Mason and Wales had completed other work for Larnach, specifically the ballroom at Larnach's Castle in 1886. The building was never used for its intended purpose, and Larnach seems to have paid it little attention. His focus was the development of Larnach's Castle and grounds.
The Dandie Dinmont Hotel has historical significance as part of Larnach's vision for the suburb of Waverley. In the late 1870s and early 1880s it was part of William Larnach and James Smith's vision of creating a new suburb on the Waverley hills, with access provided by steamer. Caught up in the economic depression and the failure of the steamer service the scheme foundered. In addition Larnach's wife Eliza died drawing his attention and enthusiasm away from the project. The building was largely tenanted for remainder of the nineteenth century. Later known as Waverley House, it had its heyday under the ownership of the McKenzie and Stevenson family when it was known for its opulence. By the mid twentieth century the property had declined, and from the 1970s onward the slow decay has continued unhindered.
Historical Significance or Value
The Dandie Dinmont Hotel has historical significance as one of the earliest buildings in what would become the suburb of Waverley in Dunedin. In the late 1870s and early 1880s it was part of William Larnach and James Smith's vision of creating a new suburb on the Waverley hills, with access provided by steamer. Caught up in the economic depression and the failure of the steamer service the scheme foundered, resulting in legal action taken against Larnach and Smith. In addition Larnach's wife Eliza died drawing his attention and enthusiasm away from the project. The building was largely tenanted for the remainder of the nineteenth century.
Architectural Significance or Value
The Dandie Dinmont Hotel was designed by prominent Dunedin architectural partnership Mason and Wales and is a good example of substantial nineteenth century residence cum hotel. Mason and Wales had completed other work for Larnach, specifically the Larnach's Castle in 1886.
(b) The association of the place with events, persons, or ideas of importance in New Zealand history
The Dandie Dimont Hotel is associated with William Larnach, an important fig-ure in nineteenth century Dunedin, and nationally as politician and business-man. The building was commissioned by Larnach, but was never used for its in-tended purpose, and he seems to have paid it little attention. His focus was the development of Larnach's Castle and grounds.
(e) The community association with, or public esteem for the place
Since the 1980s there has been a steady stream of concern about the condition of the property. Expression has been through letters, articles in the newspa-pers, letters to the editor, phone calls and offers to purchase the property. The building is in a prominent position on a high profile route this has added to the local concern about the poor condition.
(i) The importance of the identifying historic places known to date from early peri-ods of New Zealand settlement
The site of Thomas Burns' farm is one of the early residences associated with the beginnings of the Otago settlement in 1848, and therefore is important in identifying places known to date from early periods of New Zealand settlement.
Summary of Significance or Values
This place was assessed against, and found it to qualify under the following criteria: b, e and i.
It is considered that this place qualifies as a Category II historic place.
Mason & Wales Architects Ltd
Mason and Wales Architects Ltd is the oldest architectural practice in New Zealand, having been founded by William Mason (1810-1897) in 1862 Dunedin. Mason was born in England, studied under Peter Nicholson and worked under Thomas Telford and Edward Blore. In 1838 he immigrated to New South Wales, and came to New Zealand in 1840. Having spent 22 years in Auckland he went to Dunedin at the time of the gold discoveries and was elected the first mayor of Dunedin in 1865. He was active in politics as well as in architecture.
Mason was in partnership firstly with David Ross (1827-1908) and William Henry Clayton (1823-1877) and he took in N.Y.A. Wales (1832-1903) when Clayton left the firm to become Colonial Architect in Wellington. Wales had worked as a clerk of works and was very competent in all aspects of construction.
The firm was responsible for many of Dunedin's early important buildings such as the Post Office (later known as the Exchange Building), Princes Street (1864-68), the Exhibition Building (later the Dunedin Hospital), Great King Street (1864), St Matthew's Church, Stafford Street (1873), and the Wains Hotel, Princes Street (1878).
Mason and Wales designed the Abbotsford Farm Steading (1871) at Outram, Otago (NZHPT Reg. No. 7579). This farm steading was designed for James Shand, a prominent land owner, politician and businessman in the area. Mason and Wales designed another farm steading for Shand at his property Berkeley in 1881 (demolished 1981). In 1881, Mason and Wales also designed a plain concrete Chicory Kiln (NZHPT Reg. No. 3359, Cat II) at Inch Clutha, South Otago for Gregg and Coy.
Mason and Wales continues today. N.Y.A. Wales (b.1927) is a fourth generation director of the firm.
WALES, Nathaniel Young Armstrong (1832-1903)
Wales was born in Northumberland, England, and educated at Jedburgh, Scotland. He immigrated to Australia in 1854 and found employment as a carpenter working on the buildings for the first exhibition held in Melbourne.
He arrived in Dunedin about 1863, and was a clerk of works for William Mason on the old Bank of New Zealand Building (1862-64), the Post Office Building (1864-68) and the Port Chalmers Graving Dock (1868-72).
Wales entered partnership with William Mason in 1871. The firm of Mason and Wales was responsible for many fine buildings in Dunedin including Bishopscourt (1873), St Matthew's Church (1873), Government Life Insurance Building (1897) and Wains Hotel (1878).
Wales had military and political interests and was a Member of Parliament for some years. He occupied a seat on the Dunedin Harbour Board and was a Dunedin City Councillor. In 1895 he was elected Mayor of Dunedin. In 1900 he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects.
No biography is currently available for this construction professional
The land on which the White House stands was originally part of a 121 acre block granted to Thomas Burns, Gilbert Burns and Alexander [Turner?] between 1863 and 1865 in the then rural district of Andersons Bay on the Otago Peninsula (OT27/262). Thomas Burns apparently had an early residence near the site in the late 1840s, soon after his arrival in Otago. A 1929 biography on Thomas Burns provides further information. Burns established a farm at what was known as 'The Glen' at Andersons Bay and built a stone homestead on site. The stone was quarried at Andersons Point and transported by punt to the site. Stonemasons John Mathews and James Robertson built the house, starting in December 1848. Settler James Scott recalled the location of the house: 'The stone house was close to the beach, built against a bank and was never finished upstairs, this part being used as a workroom.' The property was known as Grant Braes. Thomas Burns' son Arthur lived there for some years before shifting to the Taieri. The house fell into ruin sometime around the 1870s with Scott salvaging some of the timber for buildings on his property.
In August 1876 the land was transferred to Barrister James Smith and William Larnach as tenants in common (OT27/262 and OT27/263). New South Wales born William James Mudie Larnach (1833-1898) started his career in banking at the Bank of New South Wales in 1850. In 1867 he moved to Dunedin as manager of the ailing Bank of Otago. He was soon involved in various business concerns including a timber and hardware concern (one of the largest in the country at the time) and land speculation. By the late 1870s he was actively pursuing a political career. His business activities were based on much borrowing and left him vulnerable the vagaries of the colonial economy.
The land was subdivided and Lots 32 and 33 were transferred to Larnach in July 1881. According to Lois Galer the building was commissioned by William Larnach and designed by prominent Dunedin architectural partnership Mason and Wales in 1880 and built by a Mr McKinnon. Signed plans reproduced in Hardwicke Knight's biography of Larnach confirm that he commissioned the building, and a Mr McKinnon is also a signatory. It was designed as a hotel, and had stables to the south. The building was originally known as the 'Dandie Dinmont Hotel' (a Dandie Dinmont is a small terrier from the English/Scottish border region) as indicated by the relief lettering shown on the plans. The original plans indicated that the there was a billiards room, dining room, a bar with a parlour, lounge, dining room, and service area with kitchen, scullery and store. The bedrooms were upstairs. Snedden suggests that the Hotel provided a way point on the trip to Larnach's Castle where horses could be stabled. The building was never used as a hotel. The walls of Burns' homestead were pulled down on the construction of the new buildings.
Larnach had ideas of developing the area as a suburb of Dunedin, which in the 1870s and 1880s was only accessed by water. Larnach and partner James Smith planned shops and free travel to the suburb aboard Larnach's paddle steamer Colleen. Larnach and Smith subdivided sections in Waverley, with prominent individuals buying land there. Unfortunately the timing was wrong. By 1881 with the failure of the New Zealand Agricultural Company his situation was bleak, compounded by the death of his wife the year before. The economic depression of the 1880s was biting and halted progress. Colleen proved an unseaworthy vessel and was taken off service at the beginning of 1882. The end of the ferry service depreciated the Waverley land by a quarter and the landowners took the subdividers to court. The subdividers had to refund the difference in the price of the sections. The Dandie Dinmont was let to a tenant, and seems to have been tenanted up until at least Larnach's death.
The land was transferred to Robert Stanford and Basil Sievwright in March 1882 (Sievwright was Larnach's solicitor), and to Williamina McKenzie in August 1900. The Larnach family retained some interest in the property (as a mortgagor) until 1900. After Larnach's suicide in Parliament buildings in 1898 son Douglas relinquished his interest.
The White House's profile was high during the first thirty years of the twentieth century when it was occupied by Miss Williamina MacKenzie (d.1911), her sister Isabella Stevenson and brother in law Robert Stevenson. The grounds were notable and the opulently furnished property became known as Waverley House.
After McKenzie's death the land was transferred to her executor Isabella Elliott. In 1933 it was transferred to Violet Leach (who married Robert Gorman). The Gorman's owned the property until 1969. It appears that the condition of the building deteriorated throughout these years, and by the mid-1960s the veranda-conservatory had collapsed.
In 1970 it was purchased by the current owner (OT2D/940]. In the early 1970s the property was tenanted by a family who undertook some renovations. The property has been tenanted since that time. From the 1970s concern has been expressed about the condition of the prominently located house, evident in letters to the editor, articles in the newspaper and correspondence with the New Zealand Historic Places Trust. Since 2006 there has been some repair and maintenance work undertaken, and there have been negotiations between the Dunedin City Council and the owner regarding road stopping to regularise the land titles, with possible conditions including registration and the preparation of a conservation plan. The negotiations are ongoing.
The Dandie Dinmont Hotel is located on Portobello Road, which runs along the base of Otago Peninsula next to the harbour. The building faces Portobello Road while Doon Street loops around the rear of the property. The building sits on a small parcel of land backed by steep tree-clad hills, with modern residences sitting nearby.
The two storey building faces west. The main building is rectangular in plan, with two smaller rectangular wings set back from the main building. The rear wing houses the kitchen and associated services. A small turret like observation room sits centrally at roof level, providing access to the roof and a panoramic view over Dunedin City to the west. On the north elevation there is a small timber enclosed verandah with coloured glass windows, with access to a timber deck. Both are in poor condition.
The principle façade (west elevation) to Portobello Road has a centrally-placed double door, with two flanking windows on the ground floor. There is a pediment decorated with a circular motif on three sides of the main building. The first floor has three evenly spaced double hung sash windows. The majority of the windows are single light double hung sash windows. French doors have been added to the ground floor on the north elevation. On first floor of the west elevation French Doors previously access to the balcony, which has collapsed.
A stone wall runs the length of the section adjoining Portobello Road, with stone gate posts with concrete stairs marking the formal entrance to the property. To the south of the house are the gates which provided access to the stables. The site of the stables is no longer evident and has been levelled with the construction of Doon Street. Much of the section has been levelled and cleared.
The main entrance to the house is through the centrally placed front door. The door opens into the formal entrance hall, with stairs accessing the upper floor and observatory rising to the right side of the hall. The timber stairs which rise two floors and have turned banisters and decorative detailing are the most significant architectural detail left in the building.
Problems with the roof mean that there has been water penetration, resulting in damage to the interior. Many of the lath and plaster walls and ceilings are in poor condition, and some are in a state of partial collapse. Much of the Dado panelling, where it remains, is in poor condition and suffering from rot as a result of damp. Some rooms show remnant features of the previously grand residence: ornate timber and marble fire surrounds, ceiling roses, and tile work in fire places and in the kitchen. With the exception of the bathroom, which still has an deep inbuilt bath set within an alcove, there is little in the house that provides insight into its historic use or the lives lived within it. The house is currently unoccupied and in poor condition.
Construction of Rev. Dr. Thomas Burns' farm homestead, known as Grant Braes
Designed by Mason and Wales and construction completed.
Brick with cement render.
12th September 2007
Report Written By
Fleur Snedden, King of the Castle: A Biography of William Larnach, David Bateman, Auckland, 1997
Dictionary of New Zealand Biography
Dictionary of New Zealand Biography
F.R.J. Sinclair, 'Larnach, William James Mudie 1833-1898', updated 22 June 2007, URL: http://www.dnzb.govt.nz
Goodall, 'William James Mudie Larnach 1833-1898 New Zealand politician' BA (Hons), Otago University, 1981 [Hocken Library]
H. Knight, The Ordeal of William Larnach, Allied Press, Dunedin, 1981
Otago Daily Times
Otago Daily Times
Ernest Merrington, A Great Coloniser: the Rev. Dr. Thomas Burns, pioneer minister of Otago and nephew of the poet, Otago Daily Times and Witness Newspapers Co. Ltd, Dunedin, 1929
A copy of the original report is available from the NZHPT Otago/Southland Area 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.