Renfrew House

111 Highgate, Roslyn, Dunedin

  • Renfrew House, Dunedin.
    Copyright: Heritage New Zealand. Taken By: Susan Irvine. Date: 21/11/2016.
  • Renfrew House, Dunedin.
    Copyright: Heritage New Zealand. Taken By: Susan Irvine. Date: 21/11/2016.
  • Renfrew House, Dunedin. Image included in Field Record Form Collection.
    Copyright: Heritage New Zealand.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 2 Public Access Private/No Public Access
List Number 2166 Date Entered 2nd July 1982 Date of Effect 2nd July 1982


Extent of List Entry

Extent includes the land described as Lot 1 DP 22261 and Lot 1 DP 17306 (RT OT14C/31), Otago Land District and the building known as Renfrew House thereon.

City/District Council

Dunedin City


Otago Region

Legal description

Lot 1 DP 22261 and Lot 1 DP 17306 (RT OT14C/31), Otago Land District


Standing prominently on one of Dunedin’s most prestigious streets, Renfrew House proudly proclaims its nineteenth century pedigree. Historically significant in its association with the successful businessman Andrew McFarlane; aesthetically significant in its symmetrical bluestone design; architecturally significant in its likely association with Nathaniel Young Wales, Renfrew House is a testament to old Dunedin wealth.

In 1864 Andrew and John McFarlane established the ‘the well-known grocery firm of A. and J. McFarlane’ in Maclaggan Street. The business prospered and in 1890 the newspaper wrote that ‘at present they [A. and J. McFarlane] conduct a business which is certainly the largest in the City.’ The McFarlane brothers also purchased land on the Taieri Plain and took up dairying. They raised Ayrshire cattle, naming their farm ‘Ayrshire Park’. Andrew McFarlane became involved in agricultural organisations and was one of the founders of the Taieri and Peninsula Milk Supply Company. By 1889 he was Chairman of the Otago Agricultural and Pastoral Association. He was also a Director of the Standard Fire and Marine Insurance Company, helped launch the Roslyn Tramway Company, was on the Committee of the Chamber of Commerce and was a Roslyn Borough Councillor.

In August 1868 Andrew married Jane Wilson (1847-1920) of Dunedin. It is likely the couple began married life in a bluestone cottage already on the site McFarlane had purchased in 1863: Sections 7 and 8, Block IV, Upper Kaikorai. According to local word of mouth, McFarlane’s original cottage was single storey and bluestone with a central front door and double hung windows on each side. A second storey was later added, perhaps around 1881. The exterior walls were built of double stone – over 70 cm thick. The interior walls were built of double brick. With its wrought iron lace work, it is ‘one of the finest examples of classic Victorian architecture in Dunedin’.

Mason and Wales was the architect of choice for A and J McFarlane’s commercial enterprises. It is entirely probable, that McFarlane’s neighbour, Nathaniel Young Armstrong Wales, was involved with the design and construction of the addition and perhaps the original structure. Certainly the families were on familiar terms. In 1894 McFarlane’s daughter Jane married Nathaniel Wales’ son, Robert.

By the 1890s the family referred to their home as ‘Renfrew House’. On the occasions of McFarlane family weddings, Renfrew House was mentioned by name as the wedding and reception venue. In 1920 Andrew retired from the firm and the business was wound up. He died at his daughter’s home, also in Belgrave Crescent, in 1924.

The house was renovated during the 1950s and 1960s and by the 1970s was under threat of demolition. Instead, the house was sold and the current owners have recently invested considerable time and effort returning the garden and exterior to its gracious best.


Additional informationopen/close

Construction Dates

Original Construction
1863 -

1881 -
A second storey added

Public NZAA Number


Completion Date

8th March 2017

Report Written By

Susan Irvine

Information Sources

Evening Star

Evening Star

Evening Star, 25 Jan 1890

Galer, 1981

L. Galer, Houses and Homes, Allied Press, Dunedin, 1981

Otago Daily Times

Otago Daily Times

Otago Daily Times, 9 June 1924

Otago Witness

Otago Witness

Otago Witness, 25 Oct 1905

Other Information

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.

A fully referenced upgrade report is available on request from the Otago/Southland Office of Heritage New Zealand.