When you look across the skyline of our town there is an appealing array of red tiled roofs. Many of the homes these appear on are houses that were built in the 1910-20’s when the Arts and Crafts style of house was popular here in Timaru.
Arts and Crafts style can be seen in the use of Marseilles tiles, the contrasting colours and textures that have been used in the brickwork and walls, tall tapered chimneys and chamfered stacks. These houses may appear irregular and do not conform to the earlier constraints of Victorian style. The Interiors are usually more elaborate, often full of beautiful woodwork . Character abounds in and they are full of quirky spaces.
There were a lot of rather grand houses being built at that time in Timaru and one of them is The Croft Homestead. Built in 1915 for Mr and Mrs RL Orbell. The architect was reputed to be Mr Basil B. Hooper, and the building contractor was a Mr Tooth of Timaru. Hooper became well known for his domestic architecture and was one of New Zealand’s most talented Arts and Crafts architects.
The homestead is built of brick, with the upper part white rough-cast. The roof is covered with Marseilles tiles, and the gables hung with shingles. It has an asymmetrical form with a balance of horizontal and vertical elements as well as the expected tall decorated chimneys, varied rooflines and projecting facades.
The house changed hands a couple of times and was eventually bequeathed to Presbyterian Social Services in 1968 by the then owner, Mr James William Grant. These days it forms part of a retirement home complex. The Grant family were generous benefactors to Timaru, having also gifted the Aigantighe Art Gallery to the City.
The house was designed to obtain the full effect of the sunshine, and also of the magnificent views. It is a superb example of the Arts and Crafts style house.
For such a nicely named town Pleasant Point has endured its times of trial arising from fire, pestilence, flood and drought.
Fires were not uncommon within the business community. On the corner that was then known as Nelligan’s block (he being the proprietor at the time) stood the original Railway Hotel which was burnt down on 30th January 1911. History records a crowd of some 1500 people flocked to witness the blaze, locals being joined by motor car and taxi cab parties who came from Timaru to view the spectacle. Apparently the largest fire to be seen in South Canterbury for a long time.
This destructive fire started on the ground floor of the Hotel in Chisholm’s grocery and spread rapidly through the adjoining buildings completely destroying the hotel.
A ‘Bucket Brigade’ fought the fire until an old manual fire engine drawn by four horses from Glennie’s Stables of Timaru, 12 miles away, arrived on the scene but, by then, all was lost. The Brigade was able to prevent the fire spreading into the neighbouring McKibben’s store.
Following the fire, a tin shed was quickly erected to serve as a bar, this meant the licence could be retained. As soon as possible a new hotel was built on the site.
A report in the Timaru Herald on 5 August, 1911 describes: “The completion of a first class hotel of forty rooms complete with Billiard room of latest design and its own power-house to generate electricity for lighting.”
Seen on the corner site today, Nelligan's Railway Hotel, is a handsome and solid looking brick building, very striking with its black painted plaster detailing.
St John’s Episcopalian Church was designed by the Christchurch architect Thomas Cane and built by Temuka contractors Clinch and Lloyd. Up until June 1972 this small weatherboard church, neo-gothic in style, stood in Winchester township.
The nave of the church was consecrated by Bishop Harper on 25th March 1879. At the time it was beyond the means of the congregation to fund more of the build but by 1890 the Chancel, porch and vestry were added and the church was complete.
In the 10 March 1909 edition The Otago Witness, featured an article about some bees, “which for many years have made their home at the entrance to St. John's Church, Winchester, and which have resisted all attempts to dislodge them, are a source of much annoyance to the churchgoers. On Sunday (says the Temuka Leader) last two persons were stung by them.”
By the 1960’s attendance began to decline and the decision was made to unify the Presbyterian and Anglican parishes with activity being centred on the Presbyterian Church Hall. St John’s church became redundant.
From 1907 until the mid-fifties the pupils from Waihi School used to march down the main road each Sunday morning to attend the service smartly dressed in their uniforms and sporting cream ‘boater’ hats. There were close links with St John's Anglican Church from the earliest days of the school with the Headmaster, Joseph Orford, conducting many of the services as the vicar from Temuka was only scheduled to visit once a month.
In 1971 the Anglican Parish offered their old church buildings to Waihi Preparatory School, covering the cost of moving it to its new location, carrying out repair work and finally repainting the church as part of the gift. By 1972 the old church had been moved into its new surroundings, the pupils used the church daily before school and the cream ‘boater’ hats became redundant in the process.
This building enjoys a Heritage 2 listing with Heritage New Zealand.
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