Two houses combined to make distinctive home

Number 553 Queen St, on the north west corner with Winchester St was built for Mr William Ernest Kilsby it is thought about 1924. Two houses were bought at the auction of buildings and goods etc at the Central Development Experimental Farm at C.D. Farm Road. Mr. Arnold Ransom did the building work.

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The New Zealand history of the Kilsby family goes back to 1856 when George and Emma Kilsby left England in the Oliver Lang arriving in Wellington the same year with one child, George, aged one year. 

For about 12 years George worked at his trade of blacksmith around the Wellington area. About 1876 he bought land in the Ohariu Valley for farming purposes. By then eight more children had been born to the couple. 

George and his oldest son, also George, built the Holy Trinity Church (Anglican) in Ohariu in 1870 with pitsawn timber and hand made nails which still can be seen in the flooring. 

Later the Kilsby’s operated a sawmill driven by water power.  With eight sons there would have been plenty of manpower.


On the same trip on the Oliver Lang which brought the Kilsby family out were the Bassett family, Harriet and Thomas with three children. Their cabin was only one and a quarter by under two metres. The youngest child, Mary, only six months old travelled in a box. 

The family increased to ten children and they lived around the Wellington area. 

Thomas, an engineer, working at his trade and as a sawyer. 

In 1866 they settled in the Ohariu Valley.  Thomas was a postmaster (in his own house) for 33 years, being succeeded by his son for six years and then a grandson for six years.

George Kilsby Junior married Mary Bassett.  They had eight children including Will the builder of the Levin house. 

In 1896 the family moved to Koputaroa and had land stretching from Koputaroa Rd, at least in later years, to west of the now Highway One, north of the Waitarere turnoff. 

Will Kilsby apparently did not live in the Queen St house for many years. 

Mr Percy von Hartitzsh bought the house but no date is known.  He built the Eclipse Garage in 1924 and sold it in 1935 so it was probably in the later years of that era as he lived in Stuckey St first. 

Jack and Betty Clark bought the house next, but no date is known but it was probably about 1935.  At some period about then he bought the shop where Carpet Call is now and the two shops down Queen St and Chainey Bros shop from Mr Mortenson.  These four shops are still owned by a member of Jack’s family. 

About 1965 or 66 Electoral Holdings bought the house with the local branch of the National Party having its headquarters in part of the building.


In 1967 Norman Lowe operated a restaurant in most of the house.  At other times rooms were available for caterers at functions. 

In 1977 Mr Ross MacDonald bought the house and operated his 553 Health Centre.  He sold it to Mr S.H. Philip and Mr R.D. Stewart in 1979. 

Mr Philip operates his solicitor’s business in one part of the house with Mr Stewart and Mr M.Pegden operating their dental business in the remainder of the house.

Originally the land where the Mower Centre is now was part of the property.  The roof is probably not the original of the houses from the C.D.Farm as it is tiled and is of the bungalow type which became popular in the early 1920s. 

The weather boarding is of the old rusticating type but narrower than the pre 1920s type.  The two old houses could have dated from the 1890s.  There is a flared base of the then new modern weather boarding up to window level.


A feature of the house is the eight concrete pillars supporting porches etc.  These are like a three tiered wedding cake.  In the front hall and one front room are ornate ceiling mouldings which are probably not made and fitted today.  All the bay windows have been removed. 

The dental surgery has been well modified with lower ceilings but the remainder of the house is as original.   Though parts of the house date from the 1890s it is still a fine attractive house.

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Two houses combined to make distinctive home

Creator:Corrie Swanwick
Creation date:21/07/1982
Publisher:The News
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 New Zealand License
Two houses combined to make distinctive home by Pippa is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 New Zealand License