Piece of city’s his­tory to be passed on

The Tribune (NZ) - - NEWS -

The his­toric homestead of a Manawatu found­ing father is on the mar­ket.

Ste­wart House, on Whanganui’s Camp­bell St, was once home to John Tif­fin Ste­wart and his fam­ily.

Im­mi­grat­ing to New Zealand in 1885, Ste­wart, an en­gi­neer, sur­veyed and planned the lay­out of Palmer­ston North, Feild­ing, Hal­combe and Ron­gotea as well as sur­vey­ing the route for the Manawatu Gorge rail­way line.

He set­tled with his wife Frances and their 10 chil­dren in Whanganui, mov­ing into the two­s­torey homestead, now known as Ste­wart House.

In 1918, it op­er­ated as a spe­cial­ist in­fluenza ward for six weeks.

More ground-break­ing sur­vey-ance work fol­lowed in­clud­ing the park plan of Vir­ginia Lake, and map­ping the Whanganui River.

No­table in her own right, Frances Ste­wart, a nurse, be­came New Zealand’s first fe­male hos­pi­tal board mem­ber in 1897, cam­paign­ing for bet­ter train­ing for nurses.

They died within three years of each other, Ste­wart in 1913 and Frances in 1916.

The pair be­queathed the home- stead to the Wan­ganui Bor­ough Coun­cil to ad­min­is­ter on be­half of the Plun­ket So­ci­ety.

It be­came Kar­i­tane Hos­pi­tal, a ma­ter­nity home.

In 1918, it op­er­ated as a spe­cial­ist in­fluenza ward for six weeks dur­ing an epi­demic which saw 6680 die na­tion­ally.

It cared for scores of sick World War I re­turned ser­vice­men and lo­cals alike.

Ste­wart House went into pri­vate own­er­ship in 1979 when the Wan­ganui District Coun­cil sold it, giv­ing all pro­ceeds to re­fur­bish the Whanganui Plun­ket rooms.

Bay­leys Whanganui sales­per­son Kim Ah­ern says while the bones of the orig­i­nal prop­erty re­main in­tact, con­sid­er­able ad­di­tions and al­ter­ations had been un­der­taken over the past 90 years.

Orig­i­nal plans show­ing a hid­den stair­case have only re­cently come to light.

Set on 1486 square me­tres, the 32-roomed house is ex­pected to fetch about $500,000.

Ste­wart House, the for­mer res­i­dence of one of Manawatu’s found­ing fa­thers John Tif­fin Ste­wart, is up for sale.

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