A second George Kenmer Douglas house has been recommended for removal from the New Zealand Heritage List. Horowhenua Chronicle editor Janine Baalbergen finds out why.
Prolific Levin architect George Kenmer Douglas' second family home, built in 1922 at 41 Bath Street, is earmarked to be removed off Heritage New Zealand's List.
Last month the Horowhenua Chronicle reported Heritage NZ wanted Douglas' first home, built in 1908 at 66-68 Weraroa Rd, Levin, removed from its books, in part because of its relocation to a lifestyle block in Ōtaki.
Heritage NZ said in its historic place review report that the house's heritage value relied strongly on its being in its original location and context.
Bath Street was an early suburban street in Levin and was laid out in 1907. It is predominantly residential on the east side and commercial on the west with houses also occupying the western-most block opposite Levin Domain.
George Kenmer Douglas constructed most of these houses, including numbers 41 and 51. Douglas built at least 300 houses in Horowhenua and surrounding districts, processing locally sourced timber at his factory on Oxford St. Almost all his houses on Bath St have been removed or demolished since.
Douglas moved from the Weraroa Rd homestead, built as a wedding present for his wife, to Bath St after his building firm had been placed in liquidation and the factory had been sold.
By 1922 Bath street had filled up with either villas or bungalows, representing two major New Zealand house styles. When Douglas' firm went into liquidation the family home on Weraroa Rd had been sold. Loss of business did not stop him from designing and building.
His family's new Bath St home was a Californian bungalow with distinctive features, according to the review report from New Zealand Heritage. These unique features include a clerestory window with stained glass panes under a flat dormer roof, and leadlight stained glass windows with rural scenes in the front porch.
The porch, chimney, front elevation foundation wall of the home, and side entrance porch posts were clad in river stones. River stones were also used in the garden and on a pergola entranceway. A similar way of decorating a building was also used in the Douglas' next home at 25 The Avenue.
Why this historic home faces removal from Heritage NZ's books
The Douglases lived in the Bath St house until 1930 when William and Agnes Davie moved in. The Davies moved to Levin that year having purchased a drapery business.
They bought the house in 1943 and lived in the house for over 60 years. The Davies were very involved with the St Andrew's Presbyterian Church, where William Davie was an elder.
He was also foundation member of the Levin Rotary Club and served on committees of the Levin and Districts Beautifying Society, the Horowhenua AP&I Show and the local branch of the Crippled Children Society. When he died in 1947 he left an estate worth £19,700 (approx $1.6 million today).
His wife remained in the house until her death in 1964 and left the house to her son Campbell, who had continued the family business after his father's death. He did not live in the house and converted it into two flats in the 60s.
Campbell Davie was an accomplished pianist, and a church organist from the age of 12. He also played for the Levin Operatic Society, in dance bands and also built a reputation as a fine jazz pianist.
The Davie family owned the house until 2005, when the section the house sat on was subdivided for redevelopment. The house was relocated to 969 Koputāroa Rd later that year.
That move means the house's heritage values, which depended largely on its original situation and context, were lost. Heritage NZ therefore no longer considers it has sufficient heritage significance to remain on the heritage list. Though Heritage NZ acknowledges the importance of connection of the house with the Douglas and Davie families.
"Associated with prolific early 20th century Levin builder George Kenmer Douglas and local main street business owners the Davie family for over 60 years, and formerly located on one of the town's early suburban streets, this place had historical significance as a representative of country town development in the 1920s and the role played by builders in the physical expression of their growth, " said the review.
Since its relocation to Koputāroa the house was returned to a single-dwelling. A kitchen extension was added as well as a portico with a new front door and two sets of French windows were added to the west elevation.
The stone cladding on the main elevation and the chimney has not been reinstated, though the new owner has added low river stone wall on the northwest and southwest corners.
The stained glass upper leadlight windows were removed. Inside the original redwood doors, timber floors, architraves and skirting have been retained with new joinery added in style and materials similar to the original interior. The original cast iron bath is still in the house.
"Its heritage values rested heavily upon it being an example of George
Kenmer Douglas' early 20th century Levin houses in situ, and were therefore
inextricably linked to its original site on one of the town's early suburban streets. Its current rural location constitutes a clear disassociation from this place. For these reasons it is recommended that the entry for House [List No. 4079] be removed from the New Zealand Heritage List/Rārangi Kōrero," the review said.
Once any submission to the review has been assessed the review will be considered by the board of Heritage New Zealand, which makes the final decision.
Review author Kerryn Pollock said, "There is a common misunderstanding that entry on to the New Zealand Heritage List leads to automatic protection of heritage places. This is not the case – the list is a heritage recognition tool only. This distinction is very important.
"Protection only occurs if a place is scheduled in a district plan. It is then subject to the individual council's heritage rules, regulated by the council.
"Both House, List No. 4079 [Bath St] and House, List No. 4087 (Weraroa Rd) were scheduled at the time of relocation; however the Horowhenua District Council permitted their relocation.
"In both cases Heritage New Zealand [then the Historic Places Trust] was consulted and we initially advocated for retention on their original sites. However, when it became obvious that both houses were under threat due to neglect and vandalism, we eventually supported their relocation as the best practical way to save the buildings from demolition or destruction.
"Our permission for any changes to listed buildings is not a legal requirement, though councils are required to notify us when they come in for consent so we can provide conservation advice to the decision-makers.
"House, List No. 4079 remains scheduled in the Horowhenua District Plan. Heritage New Zealand recommends that Horowhenua District Council considers retaining the house in its District Plan heritage schedule in recognition that it retains some local heritage interest as an example of a prolific Levin builder's work."
"Both of these houses have been renovated at their new locations and are in no danger of being demolished. However, because they have both suffered a serious loss of heritage values due to relocation, we have recommended they both come off the list. The board of Heritage New Zealand will make the final decision at a meeting in the near future," Pollock said.
Horowhenua District Council strategic planner Lauren Baddock said, "The house that was shifted to Koputaroa Rd from 41 Bath St [in 2005] is currently protected under the Horowhenua District Plan (item number H56) and is currently listed with Heritage New Zealand (item number 4079).
"If the house is removed from the Heritage New Zealand list, it wouldn't directly alter the status in the Horowhenua District Plan. However, removal from the list could mean it may also be considered for removal when the heritage chapter of the Horowhenua District Plan is next reviewed."