Helen and Richard Frith nearly didn't look inside this house on Green Lane West when they saw it from the street more than three decades ago.

But as soon as they ventured beyond the property's high front wall they knew what a well-hidden gem they had discovered.

Little expense would have been spared when the stately home was built in 1936 for the manager of the Hong Kong Shanghai Bank in Singapore, who was retiring to New Zealand.

The large weatherboard and tile house includes beautiful arts and crafts features such as beamed ceilings, lovingly maintained matai floorboards and solid oak panelling in its entrance foyer and downstairs hallways.


Arguably the property's most stunning feature is that its long western boundary adjoins Cornwall Park, which gives it a pleasant pastoral outlook.

"Within a few days of us moving in, the lambs were born in the park and we have been able to watch that happen every spring for 31 years," says Helen.

"We can also see pheasants, rabbits, tuis, kingfishers, rosellas and wood pigeons from our windows, and many of the rooms in the house look over to the park."

When the Friths bought the 1346sq m, leasehold property they also paid to freehold it, which proved to be a wise investment as the process is more difficult and costly nowadays.

When their children were small they attended Cornwall Park School, which is directly across the street, and the park was their daily adventure playground.

"I used to be able to cook in the kitchen while I watched the children playing in the park.

Each year as they grew they were allowed to play one tree further away from the house."

Helen says they gradually modified the house, which was originally built on one level with three bedrooms, a maid's quarters and a billiards room, to suit their changing needs as the children grew.

Their first alteration was to divide the large billiards room into a bedroom and a living room. In 1992 they installed a solar-heated swimming pool and in 1999 a second storey was added to the house.

This includes a suite-sized master bedroom that has its own balcony, walk-in wardrobe, bathroom and a beautiful arched picture window from which you can look out across the tops of mature native trees in the park.

A study, which Helen has used as a sewing room, and another bedroom are also on this level, which is accessed by a wide, wood-panelled staircase.

Architect Robyn Bilkey helped the Friths with most of their renovations, which are tastefully done in keeping with the era and grandeur of the house.

"This has been a wonderful home for entertaining. We have had all of the children's 21st birthdays here as well as plenty of celebrations for older relatives."

The kitchen, which was most recently renovated in 2006, shares a large open-plan space with an informal dining room and family room.

Adjoining these is an east-facing conservatory that leads out to a paved courtyard in front of the pool.

The ground level also includes a large formal lounge and dining room that is connected by original glass-panelled sliding doors, four bedrooms, a library, a third bathroom and the laundry.

Stairs from this level lead down to a large double garage, wine cellar and storage room – one of several storage spaces in the 427sq m.

Now that all of their children are adults and have left home, it is time to downsize.

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