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618 Ferguson Street - House, fence and gates

618-Fergusson -Street

Building Details

Address: 618 Ferguson Street - House, fence and gates
Construction date: 1922
Architect/designer: LG West
Architectural style: English Domestic Revival
District Plan Category: 2
Building number: 72
Heritage NZ Category: 2
Building number: 1267

Physical and Social History 

CT WN181/185 was issued on 26 February 1909 to Frederick Edward Kuhtze, Theodore Carl Kuhtze and Benjamin Wilfred Kuhtze, all cabinetmakers of Palmerston North, as tenants in common. Following World War One, this family changed the spelling of its name to Coutts.

In 1915, the property was transferred to Erik Jespersen, a dairy importer and machinery manufacturer, who operated his business in Cuba Street, the head office of which being in Rangitikei Street. The plans for the five-bedroom house - dated 30 November 1922 - are held in the LG West papers at the Ian Matheson City Archives[1]. These show that the house was to be attached to an existing building at the back alongside its back door, and also a separate washhouse from a previous house had been retained close to the back of the house. The maid's room was accessed directly from the kitchen. Possibly the family had also lived in the previous house on the site.

The Jespersens were obliged by law (as unnaturalised persons living in NZ during World War One) to register as aliens under the Registration of Aliens Act, 1917. Their entries (from late 1917) indicate that Erik Jespersen was aged 32 at that time. He was of Danish nationality, and had been in New Zealand for seven years. He described himself as a merchant. His wife Margrethe was aged 28, also Danish, and had been in New Zealand for two years. They gave their address as PO Box 121, Palmerston North.[2]

Records from his business are held at Te Manawa[3] and these list his business name as Erik Jespersen Dairy Engineer and Importer. The records, 17 items, are from 1920-21, at a time when Jespersen was visiting Denmark (a prominent dairy farming country), England and then Australia. They involve regular reports on the business from a staff member, Alex Gillies, in Palmerston North, and replies back from Jespersen.

Danes had played a major role in the development of the dairy industry both locally and throughout the region, and doubtless this is what brought the Jespersens to Palmerston North.[4]

Little is known of the Jespersens after leaving this house. However, in 1976 the Manawatu Standard reported that the couple's daughter had been awarded a Knighthood (Ridder af Dannebrog) in Denmark. The article reported that Grete Jespersen had been born in Palmerston North in 1916. Her father's business was named at the Manawatu Machinery Exchange Company.

Her family was very musical and her father had played the viola with the Palmerston North Orchestral Society in the 1920s. He had given her daily cello lessons from the age of six. Three years later she began lessons with George Elwood, who travelled up from Wellington each week to teach her. She made her first radio broadcast at age 11, and her public debut in Wellington aged 13.

Soon afterwards, the Jespersen family, now including three daughters, Gudren, Grete and Rata, returned to Denmark to live. Grete continued her studies in Copenhagen and received many awards and accolades, albeit disrupted by World War Two. After the war, the three sisters formed the Jespersen Trio, with Gudren as violinist, Grete on cello and Rata as pianist. They travelled widely in Scandinavia and Northern Europe, their performances acclaimed as chamber music of the finest art. Their success only ended when Rata withdrew from the group. In 1976, when Grete received her Knighthood, she was cellist with the Danish Royal Opera House Orchestra.[5]

In 1929 the Jespersen property was transferred to Kenneth Godfrey Chamberlain, a farmer of Palmerston North, and his wife Ivy Bagshaw Chamberlain. In early 1954, Kenneth Chamberlain transferred his interest in the property to Ivy. Kenneth Chamberlain, by then described as a company secretary of Te Aroha, died on 19 December 1961, aged 73. Ivy, by then living in Auckland, died on 19 February 1968, aged 74. Both are buried at Kelvin Grove Cemetery.

Later in 1954, the Ferguson Street property was transferred to Neville Walter Dorrington, a medical practitioner of Palmerston North. In 1956, Dorrington's wife Mary was added to the CT under the Joint Family Home Act 1950.

Subsequent owners were:
1966 - Douglas Milton Denby, a public accountant of PN.
1970 - Terence Edward Freeman, a taxi proprietor, & his wife Elizabeth Ira Freeman.
2003 - Peter William Frizzell, Hilary McKenna & Advisory Trustees Ltd.
2007 - Part-owner Advisory Trustees Ltd was replaced by Lynton Harold Powell

There is only one item in the Building Permit files for this property. This is an undated water plan.

Architectural Design 

This two storied house has a simple rectangular plan with porches on each of the elevations.  The main entrance is on the side leading to a stair hall.  Off the hall is a den, leading to a drawing room, which, in turn, leads to a dining room, all, facing the street.  Behind the drawing room is the kitchen and maids room with an external porch.  A toilet is located on the corner of the house behind the dining room.  A corridor leads to an existing building.

The first floor has the stair on one corner of the house which leads to a central corridor off which are five bedrooms and a bathroom.  Bedroom 2 and 5 lead onto the main central porch, while bedroom 1, the main bedroom, on the side opposite the stairs leads onto a smaller balcony.

The house is constructed of double brick with cavity construction with timber porches.  Framing internally is timber and the drawings describe steel window sashes with lead lights.

This substantial house has been designed in the English Domestic revival style with some Arts and Crafts detailing. As with many houses designed in the style, the house has 45 degree pitched, dominant roofs, with the main gable parallel with the road and a central gable at right angles to it facing the road. Consistent with the style is the use of rough-cast plaster and bricks, tall, highly visible chimneys, Marseille tiles and small paned windows.  Skillion dormers on the road side of the main roof give light to the first floor rooms, all of which are within the roof space. The central gable has a timber porch projecting from it with French doors leading out onto its roof/deck. The English Domestic Revival has some influences of early English architecture such as Elizabethan.  The West design for the house shows some details from this period in the house with the bracketed pediment porch hood and the Classical details of the other porches and balconies.

Statement of Significance 

This house has local significance for design values, historical associations, its representivity of building style, materials and high level of external authenticity. 

Palmerston North has a large number of very good examples of the English Domestic revival and related Arts and Crafts styles.  This house is a good and substantial representative example of the English Domestic Revivalstyle as it follows the design characteristics typical of the style. 

This house gains historical significance through its links to the local dairy industry and also to musical entertainment in the 1920s, through Erik Jespersen and family. It perhaps also has additional significance through being designed by Danes (well known local architect LG West) for Danes.

The houses and their external details are largely authentic. The grounds, gates and fence enhance the level of authenticity of setting.

Additional References
Certificates of Title: WN181/185 (1909), prior WN74/153

[1] The Ian Matheson City Archives, Community Archives, also holds a brief research file on this house catalogued as A175/167 'Age by Streets: A-L'

[2] New Zealand Department of Internal Affairs: Register of Aliens, 1917 (Wellington, c1918). Note that a copy of this document is held in the Massey University Library.

[3] These Te Manawa records have 17 difference accession numbers so these are not included in this report.

[4] For example see Erik Helmer Pedersen, 'Danish Agricultural Technology & New Zealand Butter', in Danish Emigration to New Zealand (Danes Worldwide Archives, Aalborg, Denmark, 1990), pp93-111. The Monrad family also played a very significant role in creating these links between NZ and Denmark.

[5]Manawatu Standard, 28 May 1976, p11