Topic: McQuade-Symes Residence, 118 Carrington Street (1927)

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118 Carrington Street 2017

2017 View: By Hamish Crimp

This attractive English Cottage style house was constructed for Robert Thorburn McQuade and his family in 1927 - the design is said to have been influenced (or copied from) plans by noted English architect Sir Edwin Lutyens (although this cannot be confirmed).

A permit was granted to Robert Thorburn McQuade on the 8th of July 1927 for the construction of a house on Section 7 of Subdivision 6, Part W, E.R., Carrington Road - Boon Bros were the builders, and the estimated construction cost was a massive £2200.

Originally from Thames, McQuade came to New Plymouth in 1913 as branch manager of the firm Macky Logan & Caldwell, which he joined on his return to New Zealand from Sydney. He formed his own warehouse business on the liquidation of Macky Logan & Caldwell in the 1930s and was also a well known local yachtsman, golfer and racehorse owner.

In 1934 the house was purchased by Frank and Olive (nee Chandler) Symes, who undertook alterations soon after purchasing the house. Work undertaken by the Syme's included the construction of extra living quarters above the garage for Mrs Syme's mother and creating a huge master bedroom from two smaller rooms. A permit for these alterations was granted to Mrs Syme on the 6th of February 1934 - Lovell & Rawlinson were the builders, and the estimated cost was £340. NPDC holds copies of plans for some of this work. Olive died in 1972 and Frank later shifted to Holsworthy Road.

In 1984 the house was purchased by Taranaki Herald editor George Koea and his wife Shonagh. George had a distinguished career as a journalist, working in Taranaki and the Bay of Plenty. He was awarded a bursary to study in Europe during 1959. Returning to New Zealand as chief reporter for the Daily News, he was made deputy editor in 1962 before becoming editor at the Herald in 1973. George distinguished himself as chairman of the New Zealand section of the editors’ committee of the Commonwealth Press Union and sat on the New Zealand Journalists’ Training Board. George remained editor of the Taranaki Herald until his sudden death in 1987. A Kauri tree planted on the property commemorates George's life. 

Shonagh Koea was also a well-known journalist and writer who first published in her early thirties, with her first novel, The Grandiflora Tree, published in 1989. In 1993 she became the Writing Fellow at the University of Auckland where she produced a short story collection called Fifteen Rubies by Candlelight and the acclaimed novel Sing to me Dreamer.

In 1990, two years after George's death, the house was purchased by Bruce and Helen Ferguson. The Ferguson's renovated and restored the house, remaining the owners until 2000 when the property was again sold. 

See: Taranaki Herald, 2 January 1958, page 4; The Daily News, 5 February 2000, page 33; DP3938

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