50 Homewood Avenue, Karori, WELLINGTON

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The summary below is from the Upgrade Report for Homewood, completed in 2013. Homewood, in Wellington’s northern suburb of Karori, is one of the city’s celebrated houses. Its associations since 1847 with high profile persons from the legal, political, commercial, social life of Wellington and New Zealand, and important Commonwealth connections as the residence of British High Commissioners since the mid twentieth century, give it special historical significance. Homewood has architectural value as an impressive house combining characteristic aspects of several different popular early Edwardian styles, particularly Scottish Baronial, with some fabric remaining from the early colonial cottage it grew out of. In 1844 Henry Samuel Chapman (1803-1881), the Supreme Court for the Southern Division of New Zealand’s first judge, bought 118 acres in Karori. In 1847 he designed a cottage for the property, which was built by Samuel Duncan Parnell. The building was a typical early colonial house with verandah, constructed in native timbers and with an upper storey within a steeply pitched gable featuring dormer windows. When Chapman accepted the position of colonial secretary of Van Diemen's Land (Tasmania) in 1852, Homewood was sold to John (1809-1881) and Henrietta Johnston. John was a successful merchant who became involved in public affairs. He was a member of the Wellington Provincial Council (1855-72) and of the Legislative Council from 1857. On his death the property was transferred to his son, Sir Charles John Johnston (1845-1918), also a merchant. Charles was elected Mayor of Wellington in 1889 and became a member of the Legislative Council in 1891. Befitting their social and economic status the Johnstons commissioned a substantial enlargement of Homewood in 1903. This building project integrated the early cottage into the now dominant section of the building. Homewood is a mix of common early Edwardian architectural styles constructed in timber. Architect Joshua Charlesworth incorporated characteristic aspects of Scottish Baronial style architecture at Homewood, including a tower and repeated use of crenellations. Italianate influence is present in stylized Corinthian capital columns and corbelling under eaves and some upper storey windows. The stickwork on some gable ends is an aspect of American Eastern Stick style. Interior features, such as the carved archways and main stairwell balustrade, demonstrate the superior craftsmanship of Frederick Hunt’s building company. While the Johnstons had sold some of the original land, the current residential section was mostly formed through Charles Francis Pulley subdividing the property from about 1925. In 1932 Benjamin and Lucy Sutherland took ownership of the remaining two acre house section. It was then that Homewood’s impressive landscaped gardens largely took shape, although features such as the Croquet Pavilion (Category 1 historic place, Register no.1369) already existed. Sutherland's Self Help Co-operative Limited was a successful New Zealand grocery stores chain. Open days and other events were often staged at Homewood as part of the Sutherlands’ charitable efforts. Sutherland’s widow sold the property to the British Government as the residence of the British High Commissioner to New Zealand in 1958 and this use continues.

Homewood | A Dangerfield | 03/12/2012 | NZ Historic Places Trust
House and grounds, Homewood, Karori, Wellington, 1936. Crown Studios Ltd: Negatives and prints. Ref: 1/1-038571-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/23175208. Permission of the Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand, must be obtained before any re-use of this image | Crown Studios Ltd | Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington



List Entry Information


Detailed List Entry



List Entry Status

Historic Place Category 1


Private/No Public Access

List Number


Date Entered

6th June 1990

Date of Effect

6th June 1990

City/District Council

Wellington City


Wellington Region

Extent of List Entry

Extent includes part of the land described as Lot 2 DP 83090 (RT WN49C/934), Wellington Land District and the building known as Homewood thereon.

Legal description

Lot 2 DP 83090 (RT WN49C/934), Wellington Land District

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