Antonio House

265 Riccarton Road, CHRISTCHURCH

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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.

Antonio House, circa 1930's. Courtesy of Andrew Kincaid | Andrew Kincaid
Antonio House showing some damage after 2011 earthquakes. | Francis Vallance | 24/12/2011 | Francis Vallance



List Entry Information


Detailed List Entry



List Entry Status

Historic Place Category 2


Private/No Public Access

List Number


Date Entered

10th October 1996

Date of Effect

10th October 1996

City/District Council

Christchurch City


Canterbury Region

Legal description

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

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