A lush garden estate has been tightly held for three generations, writes Joanna Smith
Not so long ago, Remuera's Golden Mile was a boulevard of gracious family estates. After 65 years, one well-known family is now leaving one of the last of those lush garden estates.
Since 1948, generations of Winstones have lived next door to each other, creating countless family memories. Joan and Peter Hanson, with their children, were the third generation to live there. Joan remembers visiting her grandparents, Frank M. and Grace Winstone, at 296 Remuera Rd before her dad Alan built their house at number 294 in 1954.
Even though Frank and Alan were in the agricultural side of the family business, Alan's house demonstrated all the latest Winstone building products, such as Vibrapac concrete blocks and terracotta roof tiles.
Frank's expertise is still visible in the dense fernery and huge specimen trees that shelter the tennis court and entrance from Remuera Rd.
The tennis court was a big part of life for the family and many friends. Joan and her brothers called the grass court "Dad's Plunket baby" because it required so much care and feeding. "The north-south orientation meant he could play in the evenings after work," Joan says.
It's a clay court now but still the focal point for another generation, opening off the kitchen and family dining room.
On the northern side, large vegetable beds and a citrus orchard were replaced by a swimming pool in the 1960s, one of the first in town. "We were so keen to swim, we all helped dig it out," says Joan. She's inherited the green thumb from her grandfather Frank. Since she and Peter moved in with their family in the 1980s, the garden has prospered and featured several times in the Trinity Garden Festival that Joan used to organise.
The fernery at the bottom of the garden provided cover for nearby King's School boys sneaking up for a swim and some of grandma's famous biscuits.
Joan's boys could walk to the school or Remuera village, and were the second generation to enjoy having grandparents right next door. By that stage, communication was a bit more sophisticated than the line rigged up across the tennis court between Joan's parents' and grandparents' bedrooms.
The 1950s house also got an upgrade in the 1980s. The upper entry level still reveals spectacular harbour views along the northern face, with formal dining and living areas opening on to a casual conservatory and sun-soaked terrace. Although the house has hosted many parties, Joan's fondest memories are the cocktail parties on the northern lawn, often serenaded by the Royal NZ Artillery Band drafted in by Peter. "A lot of my generation identify with the place," says Joan. "It has such a long association with the family and community."
The younger generation probably enjoyed the downstairs games room, big enough for a pool table and opening on to another sunny terrace and spa pool. Two bedrooms and a bathroom make this a teenage haven. Upstairs, another bedroom and study enjoy garden views. The sunny terrace off the master bedroom is a perfect spot to sip coffee and admire the harbour view, or watch the kids in the pool below.
The house is still a comfortable family home, but with plenty of scope to re-build without losing the spacious gardens.
A gracious property of this scale is a rarity, since most of the surrounding properties have been subdivided. With the next generation scattered around the globe, "it's time to move on, nothing is forever", says Joan.