Piece of city’s history to be passed on
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.