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Wellington woman gives her heritage-listed Kelburn flats to Heritage NZ

chevening
Photo from HeritageNZ by Studio Pacific Architecture

News from Heritage New Zealand
In an act of incredible generosity, Wellingtonian Susan Price has gifted her block of flats – Chevening in Kelburn – to Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga.

The transfer was completed last Friday, along with a significant financial donation. Chevening was purchased by her parents Hugh and Beverley Price in 1979 and extensively restored and strengthened over the years. The property was built in 1929 and is Category 2 listed with Heritage New Zealand. Spanning four levels, the reinforced concrete property partially faced in brick, in stripped classical style, is an early example of a luxury apartment building in Wellington.

Susan Price said the property transfer into the care of Heritage New Zealand was the best way to ensure the family’s legacy of the love for Chevening was carried on.

“I’m deeply honoured that Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga is going to become the owner of Chevening,” Ms Price said.

“My parents and I have had this building for 40 years. Thank you so much for wishing to care for this place. The thought of it not being looked after in the future filled me with horror.

“The first person that needs to be thanked for Chevening is the original owner, Emma Rainforth. What an extraordinary and amazing woman she was because of her bravery and vision to build a block of flats as a woman on her own. Second, architect Llewellyn Williams who changed the face of Wellington. Many buildings from the 1920s, for example the Embassy Theatre, are his.

“My parents, Hugh and Beverley Price, are an incredible part of Chevening. Nothing was too difficult for my father. Chevening (when purchased in 1979) was decrepit but he said the bones were just lovely, and let’s go for it. So my parents and I just went for it from the 1980s on.

“The building was exactly 50 years old when we bought it, so the three of us furnished it in a style that reflected its age. We explored Wellington’s second hand shops to get furniture from the 1920s and 1930s, and Cuba Street was full of riches.”

In 2011 Chevening was earthquake strengthened and restored to 100 percent of building code.

“I couldn’t have done it without the work of architect Lianne Cox, engineer Matthew Lander, builder Brent Henderson and project manager Richard Hickman,” says Ms Price.

“I’m incredibly grateful to those people who strengthened the building without affecting the architecture. Thank you a thousand times for bringing it back to how it was at the end of 1929.”

Ms Price was 18 when her parents purchased Chevening, for $74,000. It had been on the market for some time at $95,000.

“When I saw the building for sale it was very rundown, extremely shabby. I asked my father to give the real estate agent a ring. I loved Chevening from that moment, and dreamed of its restoration. One day, when it was all finished, I would simply walk into the Historic Places Trust, as Heritage New Zealand was known then, and hand them the keys. This building has to belong to the nation, so thank you for making that dream come true.”

Heritage New Zealand Acting Chief Executive Claire Craig says the transfer of Chevening is a transfer of trust and guardianship from the Price family that Heritage New Zealand is honoured to accept.

“It’s extremely difficult to express just how delighted and honoured we are to be able to care for Chevening on behalf of Susan Price and the nation,” says Ms Craig.

“The love Susan has for Chevening is evident in its incredible condition. It is beautiful inside and out, with original features simply stunning to view and enjoy. That it is used today as highly-desired accommodation is testament to the Price family in caring for this heritage property so well.”