Saturday, March 7, 2009

'Party House' For Auckland's Colonial Elite

Alberton, Mount Albert, Auckland. Image courtesy NZ Historic Places Trust.
Once the centre of an estate that stretched as far as the eye could see, Alberton is a stunning Auckland homestead that grew from a humble farmhouse (built in 1863) into a grand 18-room mansion with Oriental-styled decorative verandahs and towers. It was famous in the 19th century for its balls, hunts, garden parties and music events; and was well known as the ‘party house’ for Auckland’s colonial elite. It became home to Allan Kerr Taylor and his second wife, Sophia (an outspoken advocate for women’s suffrage) and their ten children. Today, much of their original family furniture along with other possessions, including exceptionally rare 19th century wallpaper and Alberton’s original landmark fountain, can be viewed if you make the easy trip into suburban Mount Albert. The mansion was left to the NZ Historic Places Trust in 1972 and later opened to the public. I have clear memories of visiting Alberton thirty years ago when I lived in Auckland – in fact, it might even be responsible for triggering my passion for old homesteads – many of which you can see if you click on Homesteads in the label line below.

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