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Historic Khandallah house needs new long-term tenant

News from Wellington City Council

The Wellington City Council is looking for a long-term community focused or NGO tenant to lease a historically significant house in Khandallah Park.

The former Khandallah custodian’s residence at 86 Clark Street has local historical value as a relatively early survivor from the period when the area was converted from farmland to a city suburb.

The house was constructed by a local woman, Caroline Pickin circa 1901-1902. It’s strongly associated with the early reservation of native bush in Wellington, and closely identified with the Glen family – in particular the custodian Andrew Glen, who played a large role in the establishment of the reserve and its popularity.

The Council is looking for a suitable tenant to find a use that will contribute to the community, support the sustainability and preservation of the house, and enhance the surrounding reserve areas.

A Registration of Interest (ROI) process opened today, with pre-arranged visits of the house available on request for 6 July, deadline for respondent questions on 16 July, and deadline for ROI responses on 27 July 2018.

Criteria for lease applications:
• maximise the building’s unique setting, character and layout while minimising the effects on the surrounding amenity values and building’s heritage values
• is a viable, long-term use for the building
• has one or more ‘public good’ elements, namely conservation, recreation, community/cultural, or education
• will ‘actively’ use the building and is not a static activity such as a storage facility
• maximise the building’s use both temporarily and spatially i.e. not occupied or used for just a few hours a week, or limited to using just part of the lease area.

History:

The house at 86 Clark Street is a relatively early survivor from the period when Khandallah was converted from farmland to city suburb. It is strongly associated with the early reservation of native bush in Wellington. The house is associated with the Glen family and the custodian of the reserve Andrew Glen, who played a large part in the establishment of the reserve and its popularity. It is among the oldest of the city’s custodial residences, with perhaps only the Bolton Street Cemetery sexton’s cottage being older.

The house, which became the Khandallah Reserve custodian’s residence, was constructed by a local woman, Caroline Pickin circa 1901-1902. The house was constructed as a part of the 93-hectare ‘Tixall’ Estate purchased by early colonists Charles Clifford and William Vavasour in the 1840s and 1850s. Part of the estate was sold to Arthur White of London in 1868. His brother and their children immigrated to Wellington in 1857 and subsequently farmed the land.

The land was transferred to a son, Edward, in 1885. Edward transferred it to his mother in 1887. He died accidentally two weeks after this transfer. Annie White progressively sub divided the property and her daughter Caroline Pickin acquired a portion (Lot 1 Sec 2 DP 738) in 1897 on which she built the house. She also owned and farmed land in the Ohariu Valley.

The property was sold to Emily Alexander in 1905 and little is known about Alexander other than that she was married to John Alexander, a plumber of Khandallah, and was buried in the Bolton Street Cemetery on her death in 1920. Her husband sold the property to the Onslow Borough in 1909 for £1900. This was part of a wider acquisition of land in the area by the Borough for waterworks purposes. In addition to this, 12.5 hectares had been acquired for a public domain in 1897, and the house and land was eventually subsumed into the reserve.

The Khandallah Domain Board had attempted to purchase the property from Caroline Pickin in 1898 to obtain water rights and to preserve the native bush remaining on the land. This did not eventuate. The domain lands were transferred to the management of the Onslow Borough in 1908, and in 1919 the Borough was amalgamated with the Wellington City Council, and the reserve with the house and land was transferred to the council.

Initially the house was part of a water catchment property, but after 1919, it became the Khandallah Reserve custodian’s residence. The first and longest serving custodian was Andrew Glen, a Scottish immigrant who arrived in Wellington in 1912. He began working for the Wellington City Council soon after his arrival, initially at the Botanic Gardens. As the custodian of the Khandallah Reserve he was responsible for managing and replanting the reserve’s native bush, maintaining paths, and looking after visitor’s amenities, including the Khandallah pool. He also worked at Mt Victoria, Anderson Park, Nairnville Park, Massey Memorial, Trelissick Park, and the Ngaio Town Hall. He was presented with an engraved tea set by the people of Khandallah at his retirement in 1952, a demonstration of the esteem that he was held in.

Various custodians occupied the house following Glen’s retirement. The last custodian was Keith Chinnock, who held the position from 1975 until the mid-1990s when the position was ‘de-commissioned’. Until recently, the house was tenanted by Council staff.

Few records survive that chart any alterations or additions. Drainage was improved in 1928, repairing a pipe that was badly cracked and discharging into the vegetable garden at the front of the house. In 1947 the house and outbuildings were renovated, piles were replaced, the roof was repaired, the living room walls were repapered, both the house and outbuildings were painted, an old coal stove was removed and the fireplace rebuilt, the hot water cylinder was electrified, the wash basin was replaced, and leaks in the chimney flashings and roof were repaired.

Around 1988 Keith Chinnock pointed out that the old stables, used as a storage and equipment shed were run down and rotting. The doors had fallen off, the roof was leaking and near collapse, and drainage was so poor that when it rained the shed flooded. He recognised the historic value of the stables, and argued that repairs were urgent because of these values.

There is no documentary evidence prior to 2011 showing recent changes to the house although it appears that an addition was made to the rear of the house in the 1980s. In 2011 a new fireplace was installed in the house.

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