Historic rating given
A Ponsonby landmark is finally being recognised 120 years after its foundations were first laid.
Bishop’s House in New St has been registered as a category 1 heritage building with the Historic Places Trust which identified it as a place of outstanding significance.
It has served as the official residence for Auckland’s Catholic Bishops since 1894 while also acting as the headquarters for the Catholic publications The Month and Zealandia.
Bishop Jean-Baptiste Pompallier first established a residence on the site with a modest wooden house which was relocated to St Mary’s Rd when Bishop’s House was erected.
The wooden structure was registered as a category 1 historic place last year.
Historic Places Trust registration heritage adviser Martin Jones says besides its commanding presence, the brick Bishop’s House has architectural claim to fame.
‘‘Its design was heavily influenced by Augustus Pugin – one of the ‘godfathers’ of the Gothic Revival style of architecture that swept Britain and many other parts of the world in the 19th century.’’
The building was designed by the renowned architect’s son Peter Paul Pugin who drew inspiration from The Grange in Ramsgate which was created by his father as his own home.
Bishop Luck commissioned the large brick residence with funds raised during a tour of Europe in 1891 and 1892. It is thought the bishop was keen to capture some of the Gothic architectural style and presence of The Grange in the new residence.
State-of-the-art pedestal toilets and electrically lit gas lighting meant the house was at the cutting edge of design for the period.
The lighting hardware was bought by Bishop Luck himself as he passed through the United States and was believed to be the only example of its kind in Australasia at the time.
It was also the first to incorporate the experimental use of Matamata stone in New Zealand.
But it is the building’s ornamental interior and exterior features which still stand out today.
‘‘Perhaps one of the most striking features of the Bishop’s House is the high, crenulated tower which provides a stunning view of the Mt St Mary and Freemans Bay areas as well as the Waitemata harbour,’’ Mr Jones says.
The house is now linked by two glazed walkways to the Pompallier Diocesan Centre, the administrative headquarters of the Auckland Catholic Diocese.
Outstanding significance: Bishop’s House in Ponsonby has been registered as a category 1 heritage building.
I spy: The Victorian naval telescope which, according to contemporary accounts, Bishop Luck used from his high vantage point, is still part of the house’s chattels.