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Grand mansion together again


A labour of love is rejuvenating a stunning 100-year-old mansion. HAYLEY GASTMEIER takes a look at progress.

Carterton couple Barry Rose and Bernadette (Bernie) Lewis are still coming to terms with their new home — a century-old mansion that was built for a mayor.

“It’s a bit overwhelming,” Ms Lewis said on Sunday. “It’s so huge.”

The historic homestead narrowly missed a fate of demolition in Palmerston North before being chopped into 20 bits and put into storage in a yard in Bulls.

Last month, the pieces were delivered in eight truckloads to Norfolk Rd, where builders worked to reinstate the old house in all its former glory.

The house was designed and built in 1905 for James Alfred Nash, who served as mayor of Palmerston North from 1908 to 1923, and his wife, Elizabeth Nash, who was made a MBE for her war and community work.
Now the rather elaborate house, having been put back together like a jigsaw puzzle, is nestled before the Tararua Range on just over two hectares of land.

Mr Rose and Ms Lewis have dreams of sharing their unique piece of history with others in the way of a bed and breakfast, and eventually as a wedding venue.
But the couple have some work to do before those dreams become a reality.

With about 14 rooms and a 14-foot stud, heating is posing the biggest challenge for the pair.
However, despite some wallpaper peeling away in a few rooms, the house appears to be in relatively good nick.

The original owner of the house, Palmerston North mayor James Alfred Nash takes a shot. PHOTO/SUPPLIED

Mr Rose and Ms Lewis plan to keep the interior as original as possible.

“We’re not touching it unless we have to,” Ms Lewis said.

Mr Rose said it was about embracing the house’s history and all the hard work that was put into building and maintaining it.

“There’s been no money spared on it.”

The jewel of the “solid rimu” dwelling would have to be the snooker room, which has a heritage category one value, and came furnished with a large pool table, bar, and carved wall panels and open fireplace surround.
“They brought over a man from England to do all the carving work by hand.

“He was a real craftsman,” Mr Rose said.

He was blown away by the level of detail and “perfect” joins in the woodwork, which includes a large archway at the main entrance.

“It would have been hours and hours to do this and they didn’t have the help of power tools back then.”

Ms Lewis previously owned a 1910 villa so had many appropriate items with which to furnish her new home.

The couple had the building positioned so the front faces the road, meaning the house could be admired by passers-by, and the well lived-in rooms have priceless Tararua views.

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