With exterior renovation work under way at Elloughton Grange it is appropriate to acknowledge the contribution of Flemish architect Maurice Duval. Duval arrived in Timaru in 1876, with his fiancée soon to follow. Over the next 18 years he immersed himself in local cultural groups and his church. Above all however he produced some outstanding buildings.
At times Duval's work is quite highly worked in the French decorative style, as seen at Elloughton Grange (pictured) and at Centrewood homestead, Waimate. Elsewhere his buildings can be sensitively restrained using simple plastered surfaces with very little decoration. The interior of St Mark's church at Otipua is a fine example.
Duval's houses are quite timeless. A typical two-storeyed house will have comfortable box-like rooms grouped around a central stairwell. Room functions might change through the generations – a quiet reading room originally, today might be the home entertainment area. Some houses are large in scale, while others are humble and quietly crafted. Local materials were used: bluestone, brick, plaster and our lustrous native timbers kauri, matai and rimu. They make a fine collection throughout this region. Duval designed some of the first school buildings including involvement at Waimataitai and Main. He produced a host of commercial and public buildings – several still standing in the CBD.
In a period of economic depression and following an emotional public farewell Duval took his family back to Europe in 1894. He died in Naples in 1920.
A local researcher has recorded his life and work in detail and the Civic Trust is helping to bring this story to publication. The elaborate scaffolding shown here confirms the community's pride in preserving the work of the super talented M. Duval.
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