'Prime' real estate up for sale

HANK SCHOUTEN
Last updated 05:00 19/02/2013

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A Wellington home steeped in political history is being sold by the Government.

The red-brick house at 41 Pipitea St, Thorndon, was the home of prime ministers Sir Sidney Holland, Sir Walter Nash, Sir Keith Holyoake and Sir Geoffrey Palmer, as well as a string of Cabinet ministers, including Jim Sutton and most recently Nick Smith.

Tommy's agent Steve Wagg said it was a huge 450-square-metre house with a large foyer and reception area, and six bedrooms.

About 10 interested parties went to an open home on Sunday, though he guessed its days as a family home were numbered because of its size and location in the heart of Thorndon.

It is next to the St Paul's office complex, just across the road from the new Thai embassy and the planned new Indian High Commission.

The house, which has a rating value of $1.9 million, was a prospect for conversion into law offices or an embassy, Mr Wagg said.

It was built in the 1920s for Wellington lawyer R W Bothamley and his wife Eve. Sir Sidney, who was prime minister from 1949 till 1957, had the government buy it for his residence.

According to the unofficial history of prime ministerial homes, he wanted a place with a guest bathroom. It is also just around the corner from Parliament.

He was followed by Labour prime minister Sir Walter Nash (1957-60) and National's Sir Keith Holyoake. Both were reluctant to have public money spent on maintenance, and Sir Keith reportedly used buckets to catch leaks in the kitchen whenit rained.

It later became home to Sir Geoffrey Palmer, and was used as offices for the Pacific Island Affairs Ministry before it was put back into service as a ministerial home.

Another former prime-ministerial home, in Northland, which was put up for sale last year, has still not been sold. The Harbour View Rd house, used by Labour prime ministers Michael Joseph Savage and Peter Fraser between 1939 and 1949, failed to sell when tenders closed in December. It had a rating value of $1.6m.

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- The Dominion Post

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