Between 1955 and 1959, New Zealand's largest bridge was constructed, answering a pressing need for vehicle access across the Waitemata Harbour to the North Shore from Auckland city. Hundreds of workers were employed on the hazardous four-year project, including an engineer named Patterson who built his home in 1949 on the Northcote Point peninsula.
The Patterson family lived there until Mark and Phillipa Langford bought the property in 1990 — and stayed for 28 years. Such longevity is rare, admits Mark, who hastens to add that many of their current neighbours have lived here for even longer. It's not hard to see why.
The bridge and the ferries transformed Northcote Point into one of the best places to live in the city.
"Nobody moves. We're so close to the city, yet it's so quiet, like living in the country with a one-and-a-half minute walk to the ferry," says Mark. "There's plenty of parking on the verge opposite. And travelling to the city from here is easy and stress free."
Adds Phillipa: "The children loved it here. They used to swim and have picnics in Little Shoal Bay. They felt really anchored here and we used to have all their friends staying because it was so easy to get to the city on public transport. We never needed to run our teens around."
Over the years, they've completely modernised: moving and updating the kitchen; adding large decks; creating a whole new level above when their three teenage children needed their own space.
Throughout, they've retained the art deco theme, keeping the elegant chrome door and window hardware as well as built-in timber cabinetry in two of the bedrooms.
Mark says most of the ground floor basically became "a kids' zone" with three bedrooms, their own bathroom and a family room opening wide to a deck overlooking the large level garden.
Massive under-stair storage housed a computer where the children studied. When daughter Rachel had an argument with her siblings, she pretended she was like Harry Potter and told people she had been banished to sleep there.
When Mark and Phillipa added upstairs, the original master bedroom with en suite became a guest suite.
A few drives around Auckland's older areas, to look at with homes the same vintage as their own, produced a design for the second storey incorporating a curved bay of windows facing the road.
Apart from creating a separate adult retreat with a fifth bedroom and third bathroom, going up gave the opportunity to access wraparound views.
In one direction Bayswater Marina, Stanley Pt and across the Waitemata to Orakei. In the other direction, the city and over to the Waiatarua Ranges.
New art deco features include a kitchenette with polished black tiles above timber cabinets and a stainless steel bench tucked into a recess. The dining table sits inside the bay and when the weather is fine, they enjoy the views from a large sheltered deck.
A highlight of the bathroom is a beautiful curved leadlight window that Phillipa took great pains to salvage.
Lovely to live in with a gate that makes light of the walk to the famous Northcote Tavern opposite, the home has been a labour of love. But the children have left and it's now too big for just the two of them.