Dec 17, 2008

James Glanville, Architect.

Avebury House, Richmond, 1972

James Glanville (1841-1913), was a builder of St Asaph Street, Christchurch, who also practiced as an Architect.

Avebury House (above) was built in 1885 for William James Flesher (1837-1889), a Yorkshire shoemaker who prospered as a Grain Merchant and then as a Real Estate Agent of Cashel Street.

Originally a 25 acre part of the Avebury Farm of Dr John Seager Gundry (1807-1886), the land was purchased by Flesher for £500 in 1871 and the 4,289 square metre dwelling was probably a replacement for an adjacent and extant house of about 1873  (to the Left in the above photograph).

After Flesher’s sudden death aboard the steamship Tarawera on a return passage from Melbourne, the house passed to his son James Arthur Flesher, O.B.E. (1865-1930), a Solicitor and Mayor of New Brighton 1915-1917 and then Mayor of Christchurch 1923-25.

James Flesher died in 1930 and Avebury passed to his son Hubert de Rie Flesher. Hubert lived on until 1989, but sold his house and eight acres to the Crown in 1945.  The area kept for the park was purchased by the Christchurch City Council for £1,250 in 1948 and by 1951 the house had also been acquired by the  Council.

Barry and Lesley Brown were the last residents of Avebury House before its conversion into a youth hostel. Lesley was a descendent of the Glanville family and Barry worked as a supervisor and later foreman at the Botanic Gardens. Their son has published a set of nine photographs (opens in a new window) of the exterior and interior of the house in the early 1960s.

Avebury became the Cora Wilding Youth Hostel in 1965 and the land was established as a park. In 1997 the hostel closed and the house faced the prospect of demolition.  Restoration began in 2000 and two years later Prime Minister Helen Clark opened the rejuvenated building as the Avebury House Community Centre.

The Flesher family were prominent members of the Free Methodist church and donated generously to the nearby Richmond Chapel, which was built in Stanmore Road on what had been part of the Flesher Estate. Although the current church, which dates from 1878, cannot yet be attributed to a particular architect, the adjoining brick and stone hall of 1886 (above) is to the design of James Glanville.

Hidden from view behind the 1878 wooden church is the original chapel, although much altered over time, the remnants of its architectural style would appear to indicate a probable date of construction from the 1850s to early 1860s.

In 1899 James Glanville designed the extant, but now relocated, Leinster House for Andrew Fuller Carey (1863-1937), a partner in the Drapery of Tonycliffe and Carey at the northeast corner of Colombo and Gloucester Streets.

Originally situated on the corner of Papanui and Leinster Roads at Merivale, Leinster House bears a strong resemblance to Glanville's earlier dwelling for William Flesher.

Also in Glanville's American influenced architectural style were a pair of houses on the eastern side of Latimer Square, between Worcester and Gloucester Streets. Demolished between 1973 and 1990, the sites of these large dwellings are occupied in 2008 by townhouses and an extension to the Latimer Lodge Motel.

By 1904 Granville had relocated his architectural practice to offices in the 1864 Torlesse Building at 9 Cathedral Square (where the ANZ Bank building is now situated). A long time resident of the New Brighton district, in later life he was Mayor of that Borough (to be succeeded by James Flesher of Avebury House in that role) . 

Another member of his family, William Leonard Glanville, a career army officer, purchased the McHaffie homestead on acreage at the corner of Pages Road and Shortland Street in the early 1920s.  William Glanville and his wife used the large house to provide foster care for many children over the next twenty five years. The late 1880s house, along with 5 acres of its former grounds, became the Aranui Motor Camp in 1947 until it was demolished in 1975.  The site is now occupied by McHaffie Place off Shortland Street. 

A collection of twenty five photographs of the former McHaffie house during the time of its occupation as the Glanville's children's home opens in a new window.

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