House (Dr Henry Pollen's)

100 Willis Street And Boulcott Street, Wellington

  • House (Dr Henry Pollen's), aka The General Practitioner, Wellington. CC BY-SA 4.0 Image courtesy of
    Copyright: Michal Klajban - Wikimedia Commons. Taken By: Michal Klajban. Date: 24/11/2014.
  • House (Dr Henry Pollen's), aka The General Practitioner, Wellington. 2011.
    Copyright: Jenny Edwards. Taken By: Jenny Edwards.
  • House (Dr Henry Pollen's), aka The General Practitioner, Wellington. Dr Henry Pollen's residence at 12 Boulcott Street before its move and re-orientation to accommodate the building of the Majestic Tower. Image included in Field Record Form Collection.
    Copyright: Heritage New Zealand. Taken By: P Barton. Date: 1/07/1987.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 1 Public Access Private/No Public Access
List Number 1420 Date Entered 24th November 1988 Date of Effect 24th November 1988


City/District Council

Wellington City


Wellington Region

Legal description

Pt Lot 1 DP 62238 (RT WN43C/224), Wellington Land District

Assessment criteriaopen/close

Historical Significance or Value

The house was built for Dr Henry Pollen as a residence ands surgery. Pollen (1853-1918) was born in Dublin, Ireland, and studied medicine at Trinity College, Dublin, qualifying in 1875. The following year he accepted the position of Surgeon Superintendent of the New Zealand Government Emigration Department, coming to New Zealand on the Hudson. Later he settled in Gisborne and practiced medicine there until 1890. He organised the local hospital there and was surgeon in charge. In 1890 he accepted the position of surgeon to the Antipodean Lodge of Oddfellows in Wellington. He also acted for other friendly societies and was medical referee for the Australian Mutual Provident Society and the New Zealand Government Life Insurance Department. He was also one of the physicians at the Wellington Hospital, Port Health Officer for a number of years and a member of the Military Pensions Board. In 1885 he obtained the MD degree from Trinity College, Dublin. He died at 12 Boulcott Street after contracting influenza in the epidemic of 1918 subsequently succumbing to pleurisy which is listed on the death certificate as the cause of death.

The house was sold by Pollen's daughter Dorothy Desmond Pollen to Eric Lachlan Marchant, a surgeon. In 1929, the house became Albert de Barthe Brandon's residence, and in 1967 was transferred to Anthony Thomas Tresch, Restaurateur, before being sold to City and Provincial Properties Ltd in 1972.

Dr Henry Pollen bought the section (pt lot 5 DP 851 Part Section 506 until 1987) from William McGill in 1901, seven years after the death of his wife Katherine Jane (nee Bourke, daughter of Peter Bourke of Napier). He lived there with his two daughters Effie, and Dorothy Desmond Pollen who later inherited the property. Effie Pollen was the life-long companion of the famous New Zealand poet Mary Ursula Bethell. The latter may have lived in 12 Boulcott Street at some stage.


Itself historicist, being a revival and amalgamation of French Renaissance and post-Renaissance structural and decorative motifs, second Empire architecture had an influence which was worldwide. It is associated with an especially opulent and prestigious regime: the French of Napoleon III, Emperor from 1852 to 1870. The Dunedin Town Hall by Henry Mandeno and Thomas Mahoney's Custom House, Auckland are among the best examples in New Zealand. The Second Empire style is rare in Wellington only a few examples remaining. Notable amongst these is Frederick de Jersey Clere's Wellington Harbour Board Head Office of 1891 which has extended mansards with dormers. By comparison Turnbull's version of the second Empire style is exceptional in its originality. Rather than a straight revivalist essay in the style Turnbull has combined elements of High Victorian Gothic with French Renaissance features to form a picturesque ensemble.


This building makes an extremely original contribution to the Wellington townscape since its exuberant architecture has no real equivalent. However, the links to Thomas Turnbull and Son's Antrim House (1905) are clear. Both buildings are Edwardian domestic designs in the grand manner employing French Renaissance motifs like the Mansard roof as well as quoining which emulates stonework, and the turret device which enlivens the roofline and façade of both. In its verticality and reference to Gothic traditions No. 12 Boulcott Street also relates well to Frederick de Jersey Clere's St Mary of the Angels (1922) which is directly opposite.


Construction Professionalsopen/close

Turnbull, William (1868-1941)

William Turnbull (1868-1941) entered the architectural office of his father Thomas (1825-1907) in 1882, and received a professional education from him. In 1890, William visited Melbourne and Sydney and was engaged in the office of J A Gordon, a Melbourne architect who at that time was engaged in the design of several major commercial buildings including the Melbourne (now Victoria) Markets.

In 1891 William returned to Wellington and was admitted into partnership in the firm of Thomas Turnbull and Son. This was one of the foremost architectural practices in the city at the turn of the century and it continued after Thomas Turnbull's death in 1907.

William became a Fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects in 1906, designing many important early twentieth century buildings in Wellington such as 12 Boulcott Street (1902), Turnbull House (1918), and the Wellington Free Ambulance Building (1932). The range and variety of his adaptation of architectural styles show him to be fully versed in virtually every contemporary architectural style and to have special skills and flair for masonry design.

Additional informationopen/close

Physical Description


The style of the building is predominantly French Second Empire in origin but is most likely derived from subsequent French and especially American adaptations of the original early nineteenth century style during the 1870s and 1880s. The French Empire influence is combined with other features to form an unusual example of the domestic Edwardian ornate type.


In 1972 City and Provincial Properties bought the house, and that company's principal shareholder, Ian Athfield began restoration of the interior. Restoration was completed in 1975 and sponsored by Winstones. A restaurateur rented the building from him and 'restored' the interior. An internal wall between the wash-house and kitchen was removed (along with subdivisions for coal storage and a toilet) so that the basement could operate as a large kitchen and range hoods which still remain. Windows on basement level are intact as in the store room halfway between the basement and ground floor, with original built-in cupboards and shelving. The ground floor has been altered to provide bathroom facilities in the former dispensary, and the door between the surgery and the dispensary has been walled up. The corner fireplace in the surgery is blocked off but the shape of it remains. The windows of the ground floor remain original.

The dining room maintains much of its integrity with original fireplace and no alterations, though the ceiling has had stucco applied. The waiting room has become part of what is now a cloakroom and bathroom area, and the hall extends from the portico back to the base of the staircase at constant width. The small area at the rear of the dining room is currently adapted for use as a kitchen. The entire staircase and stairwell is in original position providing a vista from below up to a large rectangular skylight in the ceiling of the top (second) floor. The newel posts, balustrades and handrails of the staircase have been painted dark brown but are otherwise in good condition.

The first floor 'best bedroom' retains much of its original character with fireplace and bay window unaltered but with a doorway connecting it to a large bathroom and toilet area replacing the original bathroom and dressing room. The drawing room has been subdivided into four and has a lowered ceiling. The fireplace is now in a small narrow hallway which leads to a bedroom at the south end whilst at the north end immediately adjacent to the stairwell is a large bathroom and sauna. A small bedroom is in between these two with the original three piece window lighting it. On the second floor there have been substantial alterations so that it is no longer easy to identify original rooms and purposes. Leadlights in the north facing windows in the stairwell are intact, though the western balcony has been walled in.

Notable Features

Henry Pollen's house was a purpose-built surgery and residence. As such it has several features particular to this usage.

The Bay Windows: The double bay window front is carried through two floors. As an architectural feature the bay window has its origin in a desire to introduce more light, better cross ventilation and additional floor space appropriate then for an environment where health and hygiene were to be emphasised.

Fenestration: Throughout the main living areas of the house rooms have light entering from the ample window spaces. Large window areas are concentrated to face north to increase the amount of natural light and warmth form the sun which can enter the house. The scullery, larder and kitchen however, are at basement level and have smaller windows to protect food from spoiling.

Balconies: These feature on two levels of the house, with easy access from the bedroom adjacent. The inclusion of these in the design along with the ample fenestration show Turnbull to be familiar with modern architectural thinking which provided for a confluence of indoor and outdoor living spaces (where the climate was equable) along with an orientation of the plan of houses to light and sun.

Other architectural features of note are:

-The Mansard roof and pavilion roofed turret

-The rounded head windows with heavy architraves and segmented hood moulds

The panel moulding above the window on both floors, which along with the architraves creates a strong demarcation of interior floor levels on the external façade.

-The wooden replication of stone ornament, for example the quoins on the two rear corners of the building, and the corbels or brackets underneath the upper cornice and window architraves.

- The string course which runs around the building at ground floor window sill level linking the disparate architectural elements together.

Construction Dates

Original Construction
1902 -

Construction Details

Timber with corrugated iron roof.

Information Sources

Alexander Turnbull Library

Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington

Hogg Scapbook, Volume 5, p. 70; New Zealand Biographies, 1976, Volume 2, p. 63

New Zealand Freelance

New Zealand Freelance

24 March 1906, p. 46

New Zealand Medical Journal

New Zealand Medical Journal

Obituary. December 1918 (Dr Henry Pollen) & March 1976 (Dr Eric Lachlan Marchant)

Ward, 1928

L. Ward, Early Wellington, Wellington, 1928

p. 380

Other Information

This historic place was registered under the Historic Places Act 1980. This report includes the text from the original Building Classification Committee report considered by the NZHPT Board at the time of registration.

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.