Fernhill removed and Hobby on the move
Newspaper articles on the removal of the house Fernhill from The Terrace to Grenada, Wellington
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An historic Terrace homestead, Fernhill, will soon tic replaced by 10 townhouses.
The now dilapidated home was built in 1873 at 324 The Terrace, directly opposite the end of Ghuznee St, up a drive beside the Mormon Church building. A 20-metre-tall northern rata, protected in the city council's new district plan, stands near the bottom of the drive.
Owner Maureen Young says the rata will stay, but the house will be moved to make room for 10 large three- and four-bedroom, three- and four-storey townhouses, each with its own double garage, valued at $340,000-$395,000 apiece.
One unit has already sold. The rest go on the market this week, and Young hopes to start building in “early January if not before."
It is the third development the Young family has tried on the site. A proposed 80-unit motel in the 1980s drew outrage from local residents, and eventually succumbed to the sharemarket crash. Another townhouse proposal, with 29 units, also proved to be uneconomic last year.
Four nikau palms on the upper part of the section will be in the way of the
townhouses, and Maureen Young is investigating whether they can be shifted.
All the trees were planted by the Denton family, who lived in the house until the 195Os. A trust established by the Dentons "for beautifying by botanical means the city of Wellington" funded the Australian section of the Botanic Gardens.
The submissions coordinator of the Wellington Botanical Society, Barbara Mitcalfe, says it's "a great shame" that the house and the nikau palms have to go.
"I think it's a disgraceful thing," she says. "The house could have and should have been restored."
Beatrice Ashton of the Terrace End Residents Association says Fernhill is "a wonderful old house, much neglected." "It was a sort of anchor at the dip in The Terrace and shouldn't have been allowed to get into the state it is in," she says.
But another resident and architect, Grahame Anderson, says residents can't do anything about it because the proposed townhouses comply with the district plan.
Maureen Young says Fernhill was turned into flats in 1952, and was already
run down when the Youngs bought it in 1986.
"Everybody is just being sentimental," she says. The cost of restoring it is just prohibitive."
Hobby on the move
"A five- or 10-year hobby" is how Gary and Karen Clark see Fernhill, the historic Denton family homestead which they are paying $80,000 to move from The Terrace to a new site above the motorway at Grenada.
The house will have to be cut into six sections to get down the driveway to The Terrace without damaging rata tree listed as a heritage item in the new city district plan. "That's adding $20,000 to our costs," says Gary Clark.
The couple have bought a two-acre section at Grenada, and plan to plant ferns and other native vegetation around Fernhill on its new site, recalling the nikau palms and other trees planted on the Terrace site by George Denton. A new owner of the Terrace property, Maureen Young, last week announced plans for 10 large townhouses on that site, saying the old home was too run down to restore economically. Gary Clark says the house is still structurally sound apart from "some rot in some places."
"We had an idea to get an old house and move in,' he says. "We were looking for the house for three months, and we have been looking for land for six to eight months." The house has been broken up into four flats, but the couple plan to restore it to a single eight-bedroom home - perhaps with a cafe on the ground floor to help meet the costs.
They are pleased that it will be "quite dominating" for motorists coming into Wellington on the motorway and intend to give it all their spare time.
Ten descendants (above) of George and Eliza Denton visited the family's 121-year-old homestead, Fernhill, on Monday before it is cut into six bits next month and moved to Grenada. Older members of the family such as Rob Ward , (second from right) remember visiting the house at 324 The Terrace when it was the home of two of the Denton’s daughters, Edith and Kate, and a son, Will. "I can remember outside in the back being all nice and tidy," he says. There was a well, which provided water every day of the year. Another descendant, Beth Biggs, says a family quartet used to play from the balcony when the bride and groom returned to the house after a family wedding at the Wesley Church. Will, a naturalist, collected nikau palm trees and planted the whole hillside in native plants. When he died in the 1950s he shocked the family by leaving the house to the city council which sold it. The latest owner, Maureen Young, plans 10 townhouses on the site. But the house itself will be moved and saved by Gary and Karen Clark, ph 473 6066.