Topic: Curtis Homestead, 198 Pheney Road (circa 1864)

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198 Pheney Road NPDC Heritage Study 1990s

1990s View from NPDC Heritage Study

This two-storied homestead was constructed about 1864 for George Curtis to replace a house destroyed in the Taranaki Wars. The house was originally located on South Road, Omata, on a section approximately opposite the Beach Road intersection, and was relocated to its present site in 1975.

George Curtis was granted Section 6 of Omata District, and initially constructed a single-storey raupo/rush house on the site. Puke Ariki holds drawings of both the exterior and interior of this cottage, drawn by Joseph Jenner Merrett in circa 1851-52 (see linked). He later had a substantial wooden dwelling constructed for £600. In 1860, the wooden home was destroyed by fire during the turbulent First Taranaki War - an event witnessed by Curtis from the nearby Omata Stockade. Following the destruction of their home, the Curtis' moved to the relative safety of New Plymouth, where they lived in a house on Devon Street, and George worked as an accountant. 

In about 1864, following the conclusion of major conflict, it appears Curtis either constructed himself, or had constructed for him, the present two-storied house. The house was relatively large for the time, and is unique in being clad in horizontal weatherboard (rather than the more common vertical board and batten cladding of the time) - it is similar in style to 'Fleetwood Cottage' on Carrington Street, also constructed circa 1864. 

The Curtis' remained on the Omata farm until 1888, when owing to Mrs Curtis' ill health, it was necessary to relocate to New Plymouth. The farm was advertised for let or sale in 1887, and in 1888 part of the property was sold, and the other part let. Mrs Curtis died in 1890, and George Curtis in 1894 - both are buried in New Plymouth's Historic Te Henui Cemetery.

After several changes in ownership, the farm and homestead were purchased from then owner F. M. Mills, by J. Crockett in mid-1907. Puke Ariki holds a circa mid-Twentieth Century watercolour of the homestead by Thelma de Lancy-Green entitiled 'Crockett's Farm, Omata' (see linked).The farm remained in the Crockett family until 1973, when following the death of E. M. Crockett, the homestead was threatened with demolition.

The house was thankfully purchased by Peter and Charlotte Schmitz in 1974, and was initially shifted to a temporary site on Beach Road whilst a permanent section could be found. The Schmitz's initially wanted to relocate the home to Victoria Road in New Plymouth, however their plans were thwarted by residents who felt "the house had a poor appearance and a lower capital value than their own homes", and that it would "cause a substantial detraction to amenities and loss loss of value to their own properties". The Schmitz's appealed to the New Plymouth City Council, however the decision was not in their favour, and they decided to look for land outside of New Plymouth on which to relocate the historic home. 

In August 1975 they were offered 9.3 ha of land on Pheney Road, and had the home relocated to site four months later. The Schmitz's employed well-known New Plymouth architect Terry Boon to help restore and renovate the homestead to bring it up to modern living standards - up until that time the home had never had any sort of plumbing! Whilst as much of the original character as possible was retained, most of the original weatherboards needed to be replaced, two additional windows were added, and an outside door relocated - an addition was also made to the eastern side of the home to provide extra living space. 

Thanks to the foresight of the Schmitz's over 40 years ago, one of New Plymouth's early settler homesteads, almost lost to history, has been retained for future generations, and continues to serve as a family home in the Taranaki countryside, just a short distance from its original site.

See: Taranaki Land Deeds Index I2, page 30; Taranaki Herald, 6 September 1977, page 1 

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Curtis Homestead, 198 Pheney Road (circa 1864)


City:New Plymouth