Home reflects town's heritage

Last updated 12:12 08/07/2011

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One of the oldest houses in Motueka has played host to some of the town's most entrepreneurial pioneers. Lynda Papesch reports.

With its obvious old-world origins, crisp white and blue colour scheme and close proximity to the centre of town, 27 Tudor St in Motueka features frequently in tourist photos.

Owner Colleen Tutbury-Roebuck couldn't be happier. "Cars stop all the time and people hop out to photograph it," she says.

"It" is her home for the last 17 years and home also over the past century to some of the region's better known pioneers.

A mix of styles, the house is believed to date back to about 1864. The land on which it stands was originally part of a tract bought by pioneer John Danforth Greenwood as part of his Woodlands Estate in Motueka. Dr Greenwood, one-time headmaster of Nelson College (1863-65) was also Nelson's first inspector of schools and editor of the Examiner newspaper.

In 1864 he sold the two acres on which 27 Tudor St was built to John Alexander, believed to have been one of his tenants. Mr Alexander is also widely believed to have built the house and started a general storekeeping business there, but exact dates are not known.

Little historic evidence has been found about the shop, however during one renovation in recent decades, markings of a horseshoe-shaped counter were discovered on the wooden floorboards. Renovators also believe that what was the shop door was replaced by a bay window at the front of the house.

The records show that in 1890 Alexander Rankin bought the house, followed by butcher Horace Dutton – who grew tobacco there – then John Spark who sold it to Peter and Pat Goodman. The Goodmans subdivided the land, selling the house and less than half an acre to auctioneer Trevor Lummis in 1978.

Soon after, he started a major renovation, which included adding a new kitchen plus a garage with extra accommodation. During the subsequent landscaping Mr Lummis uncovered an area of bricks at the front of the house which he concluded must have been placed to form a parking bay for shop customers to park their carts on. The bricks were recycled during the renovation.

Subsequent owners included Neville and Helen Bibby, then in 1990 Anne Verity and Elizabeth Conroy during which time it was used as a home by Anne and her family, and as the Tasman Counselling Centre, before being sold at auction in 1994 to Colleen Tutbury.

Born and bred in nearby Riwaka, Mrs Tutbury-Roebuck recalls how she went along to the auction "to be nosy". Being brought up on a farm at Cook's Corner with her grandparents' old house on it had piqued her interest in colonial homes and "before I knew it I owned one", she says.

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On her own with a young family, Mrs Tutbury-Roebuck continued renovating and adding to the house one project at a time, taking care to ensure she retained its character features.

Stout wooden doors, original floorboards and exposed ceiling beams are all very much part of home still, despite the addition of a lean-to, a veranda and major exterior landscaping. On the upper level three bedrooms and a bathroom all offer views over Motueka via the original multi-paned windows, while below the master bedroom and a spacious lounge take pride-of-place in what is believed to have been the shop.

Some ceilings have been lowered during renovations, but upstairs the roofline is original, including the varied angles created by the dormer windows.

"We've done a lot of painting and renovating," she says, "and there's more to come."

A pink-hued interior colour scheme has gradually been replaced with antique white walls, and a contemporary kitchen added. The large swimming pool that dominated the back yard has been replaced by a thriving mini-orchard, a fish pond and more brickwork.

"We" now includes husband Brian Roebuck. The couple, who own Motueka Gravel and who married at the house six years ago, have ongoing plans, especially Mrs Tutbury-Roebuck.

Information about the early origins of 27 Tudor St is based on research by Rebecca Verity in 1993.

- Nelson

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