Caccia Birch House a jewel in the city’s crown
The magnificent historic Caccia Birch House sits overlooking the Hokowhitu Lagoon set in a garden oasis of 3 acres. Its entrance is now tucked away off Te Awe Awe St but the huge protected elm and oak trees still stand sentinel along the driveway.
Palmerston North City Council became the property owners with a Deed of Trust in 1983 and established the Caccia Birch Trust Board in 1989.
The house, known as Hokowhitu, was built in 1895 by Jacob Nannestad, a partner in the saw-milling firm Nannestad, Richter and Jensen on 20 acres of land, subdivided from the 300-acre Hokowhitu block they had milled earlier.
The third owners, William and Maud Caccia Birch donated the property to the Government in 1939 ‘‘to be used in the war effort’’ and hence its current name.
Anyone interested can read about the history as it’s displayed in the CoachHouse on the property. A small museum was created to preserve this local history and continues to be added to as pictures, photos and artefacts are gifted.
After years of dereliction, in 1993 substantial refurbishments of the main house and grounds were completed and a manager employed to start the business of venue hire.
Many different options for its use were considered at the time. Making the house available for hire for conferences, weddings and functions meant it could be well utilised with the aim of paying its way and still remaining publicly accessible for the entire community.
Some 23 years on and having played host to hundreds of successful conferences, family functions and weddings, the careful balance between commercial use, public access, development and preservation remains a very important part of the operation.
Local and international tourist visits feature regularly and are on the increase such is its attraction.
The flexibility and variety of venue options, its affordability and the personal service makes it a favourite with many of its regular clients, some using the venue for almost 20 years. Getting the right marketing message out to potential clients is a key factor and spreading the word is vital!
With a Trust Board in place to preserve, protect and promote the property for future generations along with a city council that recognises the importance of local history, the future looks bright for the historic property to continue growing its role as a jewel in this city’s crown.
An early photograph of Caccia Birch House.