Sadie White is well-placed to reflect on the coming of age of Islington St and its Ponsonby environs. She has lived here for more than 65 years, except for two brief excursions early in her life as a young wife and mother.

And during those years she cherished the friends and neighbours who would pop in for a chat if they saw the light on or heard her playing her ukulele or piano.

Sadie's connection with Islington St began when she moved north from the Waikato at the age of 16 to board with her aunt and uncle at No 60.

She walked past here every day to catch the tram to her job at a city chandlery store, and she'd always elicit a cheery wave over the front fence from the elderly woman owner.

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In time, Sadie met her husband John, who was born in nearby Hector St. They married in November 1959 and rented a place near the water in Wallace St while they looked for a house to buy.

John, a commercial builder, knew the investment value of a central location. While other newlyweds were heading out to far-flung new subdivisions, this savvy couple kept their ears to the ground along the streets off the Jervois Rd ridgeline.

They heard that No 30 had come on the market as a deceased estate and they bought it. Moving in took a little longer.

Sadie refused to shift while the toilet was outside in the backyard, so John began alterations.

The toilet came indoors, next to a new laundry and bathroom. They took out the hallway to open up the lounge, and lowered the ceilings with acoustic tiles.

John's cabinet-making skills are evident in the built-in furniture, including the lounge bay window seat.

Beneath the cushion and the lid, there a snapshot of the original 1911 flooring that runs through the house.

Beneath the floorboards, the original foundations remain, and above the acoustic tiles the original villa ceilings are largely intact.

Sadie's early memories here are of a neighbourhood that was rundown, depressed and characterless.

"It was a concrete jungle. The paths were red aggregate and there were no trees or chicanes," she says.

But life was vibrant for this couple who met as competitive swimmers at the then Shelly Beach Baths, just before they were closed to make way for the motorway for the Auckland Harbour Bridge.

Sadie is a former regional indoor basketball rep and John a national junior breaststroke champion. John was involved in swimming and rugby administration.

Sport was often the topic of choice among guests at the home — and the new kitchen that John built for his wife in 1994, and the back deck that opens their adjoining sunroom to the back garden was an enduring focal point.

Sadie and John's sons, Nevin and Larry, have only ever known this as the family home, except for their two years in Dunedin for John's work during the early 1970s.

Even then, this home continued to be the White family home, with John's parents moving in as minders.

Recently widowed, Sadie says the time is right for her to consider downsizing. She may even turn her attention to something near the water.

30 ISLINGTON STREET, PONSONBY
• 3 bedrooms, 1 bathroom, 3 parking spaces.
• Land 299sq m, house 104sq m.
• Auction: Nov 28.
• Inspect: Sat/Sun, noon to 12.30pm and by appointment.
• Schools: Auckland Girls' Grammar, Western Springs College.
• Contact: Sue Hatton, Ray White, 027 279 9696.