Topic: “Issey Manor” 32 Carrington Street (1850s/1897)

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A striking combination of two architectural styles, Issey Manor is one of New Plymouth’s finest historic homes.

Issey Manor 2017 (2)

2017 View: By Hamish Crimp

Issey Manor is constructed in two main sections, a mid-Nineteenth Century two-storied vertical board and batten clad building, and an 1897 addition clad in plain weatherboard. The original board and batten clad section of the home is a two-storied rectangular building with a main gable running the length of the structure, and two smaller gables either side. The windows are thought to be largely original and include twelve-light double-hung sash windows common in this style of building. 

It is commonly assumed that the original structure was built in 1875. However, the building can be seen in its original position in the background of several pre-1875 images. The style of the original section also seems to indicate a building of an earlier date. Vertical board and batten was a widely used cladding material in colonial New Plymouth buildings (more so than in other settlements), however it was primarily used in the early years of settlement. The use of board and batten cladding was common from the 1840s to the mid-1860s – its use declined significantly after this time, and after about 1870 horizontal plain weatherboards, and later rusticated weatherboards became the primary cladding materials. It is thus suggested that the original section of Issey Manor was constructed pre-1870.

Lower Carrington Street (pre 1875)

Pre-1875 view of Carrington Street. L-R at centre: Mace Cottage, unknown cottage, original portion of Issey Manor on original site, Fleetwood Cottage. Building at rear on hill is the Carrington Road Blockhouse. 

Several of New Plymouth’s early, smaller two-storied homes were constructed in a similar style to the original section of Issey Manor. A surviving example is Mace House/Foxglove Cottage, constructed in 1854 and originally located only a few hundred metres down Carrington Road. It is suggested that Issey Manor was constructed at some stage in the 1850s or 1860s, and given the similarity in style, and their proximity, it is possible the date of construction is close to that of Mace Cottage, and that the same builder/architect may also have also designed/built both buildings.

The board and batten clad structure was originally positioned with the longest section facing Carrington Street, and has been rotated and shifted to its current position, probably in 1897, to accommodate the extension. Skinner’s 1880 map of New Plymouth shows a building of similar shape to the original structure on neighbouring Town Section 1039, and no structure on section 1040 (current house site) – it thus seems that the building was originally located on section 1039 next door.

Issey Manor Map

Map showing original and current locations of original portion of Issey Manor

Section 1039 was originally granted to Burton C. Lawrence in September 1857, and sections 1040 and 1041 were granted to Samuel Putney in September 1857; no reference can be found to Samuel Putney or any dwelling on sections 1040 or 1041. However, in September 1862, B. C. Lawrence advertised to let "a five-roomed house in the Carrington Road, with immediate posession" - Lawrence is not thought to have owned any other land on Carrington Road in 1862, and this advertisement likely refers to the original portion of Issey Manor. It thus seems likely that B. C. Lawrence either built, or had built for him, the original portion of Issey Manor sometime before September 1862, as no mention is made of the house being 'newly built', as was common practice at the time, it could be assumed that the building was already some years old. In 1865 Lawrence also purchased sections 1040 and 1041 from Samuel Putney. 

B C Lawrence House For Let, TH 20 September 1862

Taranaki Herald, 20 September 1862

After a period of ownership by M. Retford, all three sections were purchased in January 1883 by well known New Plymouth citizen William Cottier - as the Cottier's were the proprieters of several hotels, it is unclear if they initially lived in the home. In May 1886 ownership of the property was transfered to William's wife, Mary Jane Cottier. In August 1897, noted local architect James Sanderson called for tenders for the erection of a residence for W. Cottier; later the Taranaki Herald of 28 August 1897 reported that "Boon Bros' tender, £520, has been accepted for the erection of a residence on Carrington Road for Mr W. Cottier" - this is one of Boon Bros earliest known surviving buildings.

Tenders for Cottier Residence, TH 14 August 1897

Taranaki Herald, 14 August 1897

In September 1897 the Cottiers retired from hotel proprietorship, having run the Criterion Hotel on Devon Street for the previous sixteen years; the Herald noted that they are "having in the course of erection a large residence on the Carrington Road. The Cottiers had run several New Plymouth hotels, including The Royal, The Taranaki, The Masonic, and finally the Criterion. Their proprietorship of the Criterion is probably best known, as it was the location of the botched robbery, and later capture of notorious highwayman Robert Wallath.

The new home seems to have been named "Mona", with this name in use from the late 1890s. William died in 1905, and Mary Jane continued living there until her death in 1910. In May 1909 it was reported that a young women named May Jenkins, who had been living with Cottier for the previous five or six months as a lady help, had forged a cheque from Mrs Cottier's chequebook for £1 6s, and cashed it at Teed's Chemist. The cheque was refused by the bank, the case went to court, where Jenkins pleaded guilty.

Upon Mary Jane Cottier's death, ownership of the property transfered to her son H. W. Cottier, owner of a well known local drapery firm. Later it appears the home may have been rented, and was also advertised as a boarding house. H. W. Cottier retained ownership until at least 1922, when the property title was issued under the Land Transfer Act. 

The original section of Issey Manor represents a style of home almost unique in colonial New Zealand architecture. Board and batten clad buildings gave colonial New Plymouth a distinctive character unlike any other New Zealand settlement - however very few board and batten buildings remain. Of the smaller rectangular two-storied board and batten homes, only two other similar examples are known to exist – Mace Cottage/Foxglove Cottage and 114 Pendarves Street – both buildings have now been shifted out of New Plymouths CBD. The 1897 section was designed by noted New Plymouth architect James Sanderson, and is typical of Sanderson designed two-story villas.

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