Dalcroy House

16 Godley Quay, Lyttelton

  • Dalcroy House. From www.ccc.govt.nz.
    Copyright: NZ Historic Places Trust.
  • Image courtesy of www.maps.google.co.nz.
    Copyright: Google Maps 2012.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 2 Public Access Private/No Public Access
List Number 7376 Date Entered 13th February 1997 Date of Effect 13th February 1997


City/District Council

Christchurch City


Canterbury Region

Legal description

Lot 6 DP 6969 (RT CB497/247), Canterbury Land District

Assessment criteriaopen/close

Historical Significance or Value

This historic place was registered under the Historic Places Act 1993. The following text is from the original Historic Place Assessment Under Section 23 Criteria report considered by the NZHPT Board at the time of registration.


Dalcroy House has had a varied use. It was built c.1859 to house James Fergusson, schoolmaster of the Lyttelton Presbyterian school. He later resigned amidst controversy and opened Dalcroy School in 1866. Dalcroy gave up teaching in 1880, and the house was henceforth used for residential purposes, passing through the hands of several Lyttelton mariners. Between 1942 and 1946 it was owned by the Defence Department, which housed WRENS in the building. After 1946 the old house has again served as a private residence.

This historic place was registered under the Historic Places Act 1993. The following text is from the original Historic Place Assessment Under Section 23 Criteria report considered by the NZHPT Board at the time of registration.


Dalcroy House was designed in a Victorian Rustic Gothic style of the period 1837-1901. Style indicators are:

Victorian Gothic Revival elements;

- Decorative bargeboards culminating in wooden turned finials.

- Two bay windows to front of house and one bay to south-west side.

- Pitched gabled slate roof.

- Arched sash windows.

- Tall chimney stack.

New Zealand elements;

- Two-storied T Plan house with front verandah and balcony above.

- Lapped weatherboard exterior.

This historic place was registered under the Historic Places Act 1993. The following text is from the original Historic Place Assessment Under Section 23 Criteria report considered by the NZHPT Board at the time of registration.

(a) The extent to which the place reflects important or representative aspects of New Zealand history:

Dalcroy House's history is notable more for the variety of uses and owners and for the length of its history than for any particularly outstanding owners or association with events. An early building, it was constructed for a schoolmaster and later housed his private school. Its ownership/tenancy by master mariners Cpts McIntyre, Dillner, Brown and Sillars and Mary Miller, wife of shipwright Malcolm Miller, demonstrate the social cohesion of a small seaport such as Lyttelton.

(b) The association of the place with events, persons, or ideas of importance in New Zealand history:


None are known to be associated with this place apart from the usual ones of construction, alteration and change of ownership/tenancy.


The booklet 'Dalcroy House' lists the many owners and tenants of this house over the last 135 years. Civil servants and professionals have dominated its history, testimony to the quality of its construction and to the vitality of Lyttelton in the early history of Canterbury's European settlement. Daniel Fergusson was clearly a person of some importance to the early history of Canterbury education. Cpts Brown and Sillars' ships, Wainui and Canopus, were frequent traders between Lyttelton and West Coast ports, and each man later took up a responsible shore position at the port.


This places has been used for a variety of purposes, private residence, private school, military establishment and private residence again.

(g) The technical accomplishment or value, or design of the place:

DATE: 1865

ARCIDTECT: probably Samuel Farr

Samuel Farr was born in England, arriving in New Zealand in 1849/50. He spent twelve years living and working in Akaroa where he designed and built a number of the early houses. In 1862 he moved to Christchurch where he continued to practice as an architect. Amongst his most important works were the Normal School, Cranmer Square, and 'Glenmark'. He designed buildings in a variety of styles including a

number of domestic dwellings in the Gothic Revival style.



Victorian Rustic Gothic, 1837-1901

It is probable that Samuel Farr was the architect. P. Wilson's thesis 'The Architecture of Samuel Charles Farr 1827-1918' states that Farr advertised for tenders for painting the house, 1871 and additions, 1877 and he was associated with Fergusson over building the Presbyterian Church in 1864. Stylistically features like the balcony formed by the veranda's roof, the sash windows with arched tops and the bay

windows are all seen in Farr's designs, further linking his involvement with the house.

A year earlier Farr had designed the Lyttelton Vicarage (Cat. II) in a Victorian Gothic style. Dalcroy House is much less overtly Gothic than the Vicarage. It is essentially a Victorian Combined Box House with some Gothic detailing. These details consist of decorative bargeboards with turned finials, a pitched gabled slate roof and a tall chimney stack. Early photographs reveal that the original finials were elongated with

pendents, thus emphasising the verticality of the house. The balcony balustrading has also been replicated. The 1877 addition by Samuel Farr consisting of a dining room and further bedrooms relates stylistically to the original house. The main section repeats the pitch of the original roof and, in keeping with its position at the rear of the house, has square-headed windows. The design of the bargeboards is also consistent with those put on the house when it was first built.

The interior is largely original. The floor plan has been retained with reception rooms at the front of the house, leading from the entrance hall, and service rooms at the back, including a tongue and grooved lean to. There is a dog-leg stair case at the far end of the entrance hall, leading to the upstairs bedrooms. At ground floor level a cupboard was inserted below the upper flight of the stairs, a feature also found in Farr's Lyttelton Vicarage.

The interior detailing and features are original, including the wooden fireplace surrounds with contemporary grills and hearths. The back door has a Georgian lock which pre-dates the house.

The dining room, 1877, has a panelled dado, a wooden ceiling rose and a plaster cornice incorporating a relief frieze of running garlands connected by goblets. The dinning-room is the only room which has decorative plaster work, a reflection of the importance of this room.


Construction Professionalsopen/close

Farr, Samuel Charles

Samuel Farr (1827-1918) arrived in Canterbury in April 1850, before the 'first four ships', the ships that brought British settlers to the city of Christchurch. He worked at Akaroa as a builder, turning his mind to solutions for various problems faced by the settlers in the area and proving his worth as an adaptable and versatile colonist.

In 1863 he moved to Christchurch, advertising his services as an architect. Whether he had ever trained formally for this profession has not been established, but it seems likely that he was one of the several 19th century settlers who managed successfully in this field after some practical experience and diligent self-education. Farr had a considerable flair for design and an ability to give his clients what they considered "value for money", and had the good fortune to launch his career by winning a number of prestigious competitions in Christchurch, thus settling his name firmly in the public eye. His designs followed current conventions of style and decoration, but he was innovative in his early use of concrete, most notably the construction of a complex of buildings for wealthy runholder, George Moore, at Glenmark between 1875-1881.

Farr was a versatile designer, equally at home with classically influenced styles, such as he used for St Paul's Presbyterian Church (1876) or with Gothic which he employed frequently in schools and churches. The former Normal School, Christchurch (1873-76) is perhaps his most scholarly Gothic design.

Additional informationopen/close

Construction Dates

Original Construction
1865 -

Other Information

A copy of the original report is available from the NZHPT Southern region 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.