Worst house, best street: This massive 1890s villa on Napier Hill has that box ticked

It may be languishing, but this huge villa on Napier Hill was once the very grand home of Frederic Wanklyn Williams who founded the stock and station agency Williams & Kettle.

Williams, the grandson of the first Bishop of Waiapu, William Williams, had the house built in the 1890s – it was next to the Bishop’s residence, which is still there.

As is often the case with very large old villas, this one was converted into four self-contained apartments in the 1950s. And then, about 20 years ago, it became the home of Russell Pickering and his late partner Jane, a former dancer at the Folies Begère.

Russell Pickering has listed his home of the past 20 years - a huge 1890s house on Napier Hill built for a wealthy local merchant.

WILLIAMS

Russell Pickering has listed his home of the past 20 years – a huge 1890s house on Napier Hill built for a wealthy local merchant.

Pickering describes the purchase as something of an “impulse buy”. “It was really weird,” he says. “We were here from Wellington for a holiday and Jane saw an illustration in a real estate window. She asked about it and the agent said “it’s going to be auctioned in a few minutes – follow me (up the hill)”.

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“It was passed on, but she was mad about it. If she had had the money in her pocket, it would have been bought on the spot. But we came back several weekends and ended up buying it.

The five bedroom home sits on 1389 square meters in a prestigious location.

WILLIAMS

The five bedroom home sits on 1389 square meters in a prestigious location.

Pickering says character and the view were the main reasons they took over the house. It was the same with citrus fruits – having orange and lemon trees was a novelty.

“We also had tamarillos, which were my favorite fruit, until a bug came and the trees withered and died. There’s a very old vine poking out in front of the house. the side of the house and I was able to step out onto the upstairs balcony and pick the grapes from the vine. A wind knocked it down, and getting it back up there is beyond me now.

Three of the apartments have been dismantled, but there is still a separate apartment in the house.

The house, once made up of four apartments, has fallen into disrepair.

WILLIAMS

The house, once made up of four apartments, has fallen into disrepair.

One of the original grand mansions on the hill, the house has a commanding position.

WILLIAMS

One of the original grand mansions on the hill, the house has a commanding position.

But Pickering says he now has trouble climbing stairs and is considering moving to a retirement village. The house was listed by Gabby Morris of Tremains Real Estate, who says the Victorian villa “certainly ticks both ‘location’ and ‘worst house, best street’ boxes on your list”.

The 390m² two-storey house sits in a commanding position on 1389m², with sea views. In its current configuration, there are five bedrooms, four bathrooms, three toilets and several living areas. Character elements remain, including stained glass and sash windows, native woods and the original balustrade.

Morris says there’s plenty of room for extended family “or maybe even group ownership for those struggling on their own to get their foot on the ownership ladder.”

The property, at 9 Hukarere Rd, Napier, is for sale by tendertenders closing on November 30, 2022.

Character elements include stained glass and native woods.

WILLIAMS

Character elements include stained glass and native woods.

Much of the interior reflects a 1950s influence, from when the house was divided into apartments.

WILLIAMS

Much of the interior reflects a 1950s influence, from when the house was divided into apartments.

The original sash windows are retained.

WILLIAMS

The original sash windows are retained.

There are four bathrooms in the house.

WILLIAMS

There are four bathrooms in the house.

The other bathrooms remained intact.

WILLIAMS

The other bathrooms remained intact.

The house still has a separate apartment.

WILLIAMS

The house still has a separate apartment.

There are sea views from the top floor.

WILLIAMS

There are sea views from the top floor.