Jul 9, 2009

The Hollies, Oxford Terrace, Christchurch, 1864


Viewed from near the Madras Street bridge, this is a westerly view of Oxford Terrace in about 1864.

This is a restoration of one of a series of eight pencil sketches by the same unidentified artist. The subject matter, artistic style, architectural accuracy of the buildings and the graphological evaluation of the hand written annotations would tend to support an hypothesis that they could be the unattributed work of Benjamin Woolfield Mountfort (1825-1898).

Above is the location as seen in 2009, the yellow arrow in the lower image indicates the position and aspect of the artist.

To the Left, at the corner of Madras Street is The Hollies, built in 1861 to the design of Benjamin Mountfort, it was the city's first stone house.

The home of the eccentric Christopher Alderson Calvert (1811-1883), initially a Maths teacher at Christ’s College and then Registrar of the Supreme Court, a prominent feature of the dwelling was the Gothic arched entrance, with the arms of the Calvert family carved in stone above the door.

Originally sited on nearly two hectares, half the garden had already been sold off by the time that the grocer Percival Pearce purchased the house in a Mortgagee's sale in 1871. Opened as the The Hollies Store, the pretentous coat of arms and Gothic entrance succumbed to the renovation as a Grocer's shop.

The last owner was the tobacconist Hyman Marks, who initially let the former house, subsequently demolishing it in 1881. Two substantial wooden two-storey houses were built on the site. These in turn were replaced in 1962 by the high-rise offices of the Lyttelton Harbour Board, the building becoming the Poplars Apartment Hotel in 1997 (above).

Below: in the middle distance, just Right of centre, is the 1859 Court Star of Canterbury Lodge of the Ancient Order of Foresters. Much altered over time, the building survived for more than 140 years to be replaced by an office block, the ground floor of which is currently occupied by the popular Bohemian Cafe and Bar.

Below: to the Right, in the far distance, can bee seen the backs of the commercial buildings on the eastern side of Colombo Street, facing on to Market Place (now Victoria Square). The most prominent is the gabled store and real estate agency of Herbert Edward Alport (1820-1886) and at the far Right is a flag flying above the 1857 Post Office. It is the configuration of these buidlings that helps to date the sketch to after 1861, but before 1865.

The Alexander Turnbull Library reference:
Artist unknown :[Slate roofed stone house. 1870s]
Reference number: C-081-004-1
1 drawing(s). Pencil drawing on sheet, 240 x 535 mm.. Horizontal image.
Part of Artist unknown :[Eight pencil sketches of Christchurch buildings and the Avon River. 1870-1875?] (C-081-003/009)
Part of Artist unknown :[Two Christchurch sketches; Slate roofed stone house; and, Three shops in Gloucester Street. 1860-1870s] (C-081-004)
Drawings and Prints Collection


Sarndra said...

Very nice!

Made me reminisce a bit... i started my working life in the [now] grey building beside [what is now] the Poplars apartment building in 1978 as a data entry operator. CBL computers it was then...now it's Datacom [but not in that location of course] :-) My how time flies!

Canterbury Heritage said...

Thank heaven that time has flown - three thousand lines of Cobol, each one on a separate punch card - debugging was a nightmare.

But I can still remember when that part of Oxford Terrace was mostly lined with large house, the first of them came down to make way for the centennial swimming pool in 1950. The two houses to the west of the Datacom building were the last to go.

Jayne said...

Thanks for a great post with fab photos and sketches.

Canterbury Heritage said...

Thanks Jayne, another six in the series to go - the next was easy to identify, but the sketch is needing a major reconstruction.

Heritage Alert Christchurch said...

You make several references to Mountfort's dates as 1826 - 1918. The usual thinking is that he was born in 1925 and died in 1898. Kind regards - Lesley.

Canterbury Heritage said...

Thank you for the correction, the articles have been amended accordingly.