Topic: Fraser Residence, 65-71 Gilbert Street (1896-97)

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65-71 Gilbert Street 2017

2017 View (Rear): By Hamish Crimp

Clad in horizontal weatherboards, the front of this large single storey villa faces north-east, with the rear facing into Gilbert Street. The home was constructed in 1896-97 for New Plymouth Dental Surgeon H. F. Knight, and was complete by January 1897, when the Taranaki Herald provided a detailed description of the home (see linked article). Noted New Plymouth architect James Sanderson designed the home, Boon Bros were the contractors, Mr A. Cleland was the painter, Mr G. Smart was the plumber, and the joinery was supplied by Henry Brown and Co.

It appears the home was initially going to be two-storied, with Sanderson calling for tenders for  "erection of a two-story residence" for H. F. Knight in Pendarves Street, in early April 1896. However, the plans seem to have been revised, and Sanderson then called for tenders for "erection of a residence in Pendarves Street for H. F. Knight" in late April 1896 - perhaps the tenders recieved for the original two-story plans were too expensive?

Knight only occupied the house for a short time, leaving New Plymouth around the end of 1897 following the sale of his dental practice to Mr C. H. Forte of Auckland. The property was subsequently sold to Murdoch Fraser, of well known New Plymouth wholesale firm Burgess and Fraser - 'St Kilda', the home of his business partner Charles Hayward Burgess, is located nearby on Ridge Lane. Herbert Fraser Knight is listed as residing at this location in Stone's Street Directory for 1897, however, the 1898 directory lists Fraser as living near here, with no mention of Knight. DP4446, from 1924, still shows M. Fraser as the occupier of the property. 

In 1929 additions and alterations were carried out on the house, and these were designed by Auckland architects Piper & Brooker, who called for tenders during early July 1929. A permit was granted to G. Fraser for this work on 10 September 1929 - Boon Bros were the contractors, and the estimated cost was £800.

The property originally encompassed Town Sections 1641, 1663 & 1664 - the front of the property was originally on Pendarves Street, until the front section was subdivided and sold. 

Note that Ian Pritchard, in his excellent book on architect Frank Messenger's buildings, mistakenly lists this home as being designed by Frank Messenger in 1905 - the actual home designed by Messenger in 1905 is 32 Cameron Street. 

See: Taranaki Herald, Wednesday 3 July 1929 page 7

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