For sale: a 127-year-old slice of Auckland history

Historic house Auckland

Here at Open2view we love all our houses equally. There are some houses, however, that especially stand out – be it for their looks, their fantastic views, or – as in this particular case – the house’s history.

Early settler James Young built Breveg Villa, named for his Norwegian-born wife Anna Breveg, in 1885. This Western Springs home has been owned, and more or less occupied, by the same family for the following 127 years. Now, it can be yours.

Current owner Sue Andersen wrote a great account of the house and family history to accompany the listing. I’ve put an abridged version below, and you can read the full story (and see more photos, of course) on our website.

(Ok, I did do some work for this blog; Sue’s story inspired me to find this list of early Auckland settlers. Check it out, and see if any of your family had a hand in building our biggest city.)

The house was built in 1885 by James Young, son of Joseph and Jane Young who came to Auckland aboard the ‘Jane Gifford’, arriving here on 9 October 1842. James was 10 – 11 years old at the time of the journey to New Zealand.

The family first lived in Shortland Street. Joseph worked on the erection of St Paul’s church in lower Symonds Street, the wages being 2/- 6d per day. The family later acquired some 80 acres of land in what were then the back-blocks. They named their farm ‘Arch Hill’, after the farm Joseph had been raised on near Strabane, Londonderry, Northern Ireland.

Joseph died in 1880 on his ‘Arch Hill’ property at the age of 78. The district still retains that name today. The farm stretched from what is now Great North Road, down the gulley where now the North Western Motorway cuts through, and up the other side to the Morningside area.

Historic house NZ living room

James Young married Anna Breveg (born 1832), a young lady who had travelled to New Zealand from Norway. James built the house in Western Springs Road, at the far end of what had been the ‘Arch Hill’ farm. The house was the second to be built on the road, after ‘Hastings Hall’, which also still stands today.

The house was known as ‘Breveg Villa’, and had a brass nameplate bearing that name for many years. At some point it was removed and has since been lost, but recently replaced with a new version.

Historic house NZ name plate

James and Anna lived in the house for the rest of their lives, having two sons to carry on the ‘Young’ family name; Joseph Breveg Young was the first born, followed by William John Young.

James was blinded by a kick to the face from a horse when the boys were still young, and died at the age of 66 in 1901. Anna continued living on her own with her sons, until William (Bill) married and built his own house at the top of Tuarangi Road. Joseph (Joe) married Janet Fleming, and they lived with Anna until he built his own house next door, at 45 Western Springs Road. They had two daughters and a son (deceased as a baby) by the time they moved into their new home in 1912/13. Another daughter was born in 1915.

Anna continued living in the house until her death in November 1921 at the age of 89. After Anna’s death, the house was rented out to several families, until Joe’s middle daughter (Muriel) married (Paul Andersen) and they moved into 47 to make this their own home. They had two children – Timothy and Susan. They lived here together until Paul’s death in 1996, and Muriel (Billie) continued on her own until failing health necessitated hospital care in 2009. She passed away in 2010 at the age of 99!

The house is now 127 years old, and much is still original. The living room, with the pantry off to the side, was the kitchen / scullery – with the range where the fireplace now is. A ‘long drop’ used to be at the bottom of the garden where ladder ferns now grow. A gas heater used to heat the water in the bathroom for the original claw foot bath, which is still there today.

The wooden lacework and brackets, which used to adorn the front and side verandas, were removed in the early 1960’s – and burnt as firewood! A photograph showing the style is still available. The wooden front steps and sides were replaced when too fragile in the 1960’s as well. The original roof lasted (just!) until it was replaced in 2007, along with most of the spouting in 2008.

An era has come to an end for the Young family, and it is now time for a new family to stamp their mark on this amazing property, which has such a long history stretching back to the Colonial times of Early Auckland.

Historic house NZ garden backyard

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