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Devonport Heritage 2017, an incorporated society formed in 2017, promotes heritage and sustainable development in Devonport.


Home with history recognised by HNZPT

Claudia Page

Photo credit -Heritage NZ/ Martin Jones

Photo credit -Heritage NZ/ Martin Jones

The Devonport area is fortunate to be blessed with a fantastic array of built heritage, and recently another house has been added the Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga's list of scheduled buildings. This is the much-admired Philson House ( ex Shalimar Rest Home ) at 41 Stanley Point Road.  Here is an excerpt from their listing information. 

" Constructed in c.1903-4, Philson House (Former) is an ornate, corner-angle bay villa that has been considered to represent ‘the villa style at its peak of development’. Erected in the fashionable marine settlement of Devonport, the one-and-a-half storey timber residence has associations with a number of notable individuals, including the renowned boat builder Robert Logan junior, who may have been involved with its construction. Significant occupants included Wilmett Philson, who served and died on the first day of the Gallipoli landings in 1915; and his brother Geoffrey, who also served at Gallipoli and was later awarded the Military Cross for bravery at the Western Front. The residence is associated with several notable aspects of Devonport’s early twentieth-century development, including the latter’s roles as a maritime settlement; a recreational and sporting centre; and a location of naval and other military activity.

The Devonport area is significant to several iwi, having been explored and occupied since early human arrival in New Zealand. After formal European colonisation in 1840, Devonport developed as a British naval station and as a civilian settlement engaged in boatbuilding and other activities. In 1851, the site of Philson House on Stanley Point was obtained by James O’Neill, an Auckland investor and politician, as part of a large Crown grant. Subsequent owners included Robert Logan junior, an important builder of yachts and local developer, who subdivided his land into smaller sections in 1900.

Philson House was erected on one of Logan’s sections, possibly by his uncle, James M. Logan, a builder and ship’s engineer for the Northern Steamship Company. Created as a genteel residence, the building combined elaborate decorative features derived from American ‘Queen Anne’ and ‘Eastlake’ styles with a corner-angle bay villa form. The latter was a late and more complex refinement of the New Zealand corner bay villa, emerging before a shift towards greater simplicity in house design gained impetus. The most prominent feature of the house was an elegant central belvedere, from which uninterrupted views of the sea could be obtained.

For much of its early residential life, Philson House was inhabited by Auckland businessmen or professionals and their families. Initial owner, William Henry Worrall (1864-1951), was a wealthy crockery merchant who was also a keen cricketer and heavily involved in maritime activities. From 1906, the property was inhabited by the family of Matthew Thomas Philson (c.1848-1918), a retired bank manager who was a talented cricketer and also involved in numerous sports and community organisations, including the Auckland branch of the Victoria League - an organisation that helped ‘foster the bonds of Empire’. All three of Philson’s sons - Wilmett, Roger and Geoffrey - fought in the First World War (1914-18), and were also accomplished local sportsmen. Later owner-occupants included a retired shipping superintendent for the Northern Steamship Company, Gabriel Ross; and company director, William Edney, who also served as a Lieutenant then Commander of several subdivisions of the New Zealand Division of the Royal Navy.

The spacious residence was converted into a rest home in 1965, the same year that the Old People’s Homes Regulations came into effect. By the 1970s, New Zealand had one of the highest rates of rest-home residency in the western world. During this period, relatively minor changes were made to the house. The property was converted back to private residential use in 2001"

 We acknowledge HNZPT/ Martin Jones for their photo.