Scott and Alina Goddard's new home is the perfect place to raise their young family, and they would love to find out as much as they can about the families who lived there before them.
"It's a beautiful old villa and has been part of Stratford for a long time. We would love to hear from anyone who has their own memories of the villa or even photos of it in times gone by."
Scott says he and Alina saw the villa when they were visiting Taranaki from their home in Waihi.
"We were staying at Barberry Hill, the accommodation at Dolly's Milk in Stratford, and we drove past the villa and saw it was for sale. It immediately appealed to us, the history of the villa and also Stratford itself as a place to raise our kids."
Stratford has everything the young family want, says Scott.
"It's got the park and lake just over the road from our house, the new bike track, there is the new pool being built."
Scott and Alina, along with their children Heidi, 4, and Kerrigan, 1, are enjoying getting to know their new home, but would love to find out more about the families who made their own happy memories in the villa in years past.
"We believe it was built by a well-respected carpenter named Archibald Mckinlay, who was thrown from his horse and killed in February 1897, just two days after his 60th birthday. After it was built, it was purchased by another carpenter, William and his wife Amelia Henry, as their wedding home in 1891."
The Henrys owned the villa until 1926, Scott thinks, at which point it was sold to George and Annie Downs, a surname which appears later on in the villa's sale and purchase history as well, something that Scott and Alina would like to know more about.
"We know George and Annie Downs lived there for over a decade and then sold it to Jorgen and Elsie Sorensen who raised their eight children there. We met their son Gilbert in New Plymouth and he was able to tell us a lot about the property and his memories of living there."
The interesting part for Scott is that the property was then sold in 1961 to another member of the Downs family - also called George.
"The original George Downs who lived there with his wife Annie was called George William Downs, but in 1961 George Wilfred Downs bought the house with his wife Eunice. We understand he was the oldest son of George and Annie so presume he bought the house because it had belonged to his parents before."
George and Eunice sold the house in 1968 to Trevor and Lenore Goble who lived there until 1995 when it was sold to Ann and Emma Burton who owned it until the Goddards bought it in 2022.
Scott says his and Alina's research shows the villa was built next to a sawmill.
"We know the kindy next door was built on land that was the site of a sawmill, and I am sure people will remember that sawmill or even have photos of it which might also show the villa in the background.
Gilbert Downs was able to tell Scott and Alina a lot about his time growing up in the house and grounds, recalling a specific laurel hedge he remembered being there back when he was a toddler.
The gardens are beautiful, with many old trees and plants, says Scott.
"There is a very old plum tree near the stream, with some very old rhododendron located on the edge of the property along with a nice heritage apple tree and two very old silver fir on the edge of Falstaff St."
Inside the villa, the original doors and door knobs are still in place, along with the impressively high 12 foot ceilings, made of varnished kauri wood.
"It originally had a Shacklock 501 coal stove and a copper tub in the back for bathing. The character of the home has been carefully saved by all the owners over time which helps to step a person back in time when they enter," says Scott.
He and Alina would like to step back in time even more, and are appealing to anyone who has memories or photos of the villa and grounds they are willing to share with Scott and Alina.
"We know people would have attended parties here over the years, or spent time visiting one of the families who made their home here. If you have any memories or information about the villa we would love to hear from you."