Russian aluminium oligarch Alexandre Germanovich is undertaking a top-to-bottom renovation of a historic North Shore home - and the project is being chronicled in two documentaries.

The businessman, who spends much of his time in London but also owns the Mt Potts sheep and cattle station in mid-Canterbury, bought one of Devonport's grandest but most run-down mansions, which has a B listing on the District Plan.

The two-level T-shaped slate-tiled weatherboard house at 33 Mays St opposite Devonport Primary School is just below the Takarunga Mt Victoria summit, at the intersection of Kerr St, St Auburn St and Mays St.

Work has already featured in Tale of Two Houses, produced by Margot and Colin McRae.


Mrs McRae said this week a second movie was now being made.

The house before the renovations started. Photo / Suppleid
The house before the renovations started. Photo / Suppleid

"It is fascinating filming the ongoing work," she said.

"Over the last few weeks, I have been filming the recreation of the two big chimneys that were severely cracked."

Property records showed that in early 2013, Mr Germanovich paid $1.95 million for the house on a 1093sq m site. He previously owned a smaller house at 8 Mays St, where his daughter Lola lived with her family.

Teams of people are swarming over the big dilapidated villa on its steep fenced site, which was partially cleared of vegetation late last year.

How much is being spent remains unknown.

From left, owner Alex Germanovich and his daughter Lola. Photo / Suppleid
From left, owner Alex Germanovich and his daughter Lola. Photo / Suppleid

To protect the house while it is stripped back to its bones, extensive scaffolding has been erected and it has been enveloped in a white shrinkwrap covering.

Many wooden windows have now been removed from the hipped roof villa, built in 1897 for whaler and councillor Captain Ernest Ford.


The building is now back to its floor and ceiling elements, ready to be refitted.

A 13m-long swimming pool was built almost 3m above a steep gully on the sloping site, which is also accessible from Rattray St, off Devonport's main street and a concrete block pool room is rising alongside that.

Architectural designer Fraser Gillies, who is working on the restoration, said proceeds from the first documentary went to Devonport Heritage and its work at the historic Victoria Picture Palace and Theatre.

That was a significant contribution by Mr Germanovich to the local community, Mr Gillies said.