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.
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