The Colonial Cottage Museum
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|Colonial Cottage Museum|
|Architectural style||Late Georgian style|
|Location||68 Nairn Street, Mount Cook, Wellington, New Zealand|
|Current tenants||The Colonial Cottage Museum|
|Owner||Wellington City Council|
|Official name: Nairn Street Cottage|
The Colonial Cottage Museum is Wellington's oldest original cottage. It is the home to the story of the Wallis family who lived there for three generations. Tours are available to hear about these early European settlers and their descendants and the heritage garden is always open. It's classified as a "Category 1" ("places of 'special or outstanding historical or cultural heritage significance or value'") historic place by the Heritage New Zealand.
The cottage was built in 1858 and is located on Nairn Street in the suburb of Mount Cook, Wellington. The Cottage was built in a late Georgian style and is similar to other houses built from that time through to about 1870. The Cottage was built by William Wallis who arrived in New Zealand in September 1857 with his wife Catherine.
The articles within the cottage, with some exceptions, all date from between 1850 to 1880. Several items belonged to the family, others were donated from other settler families and others have been loaned or purchased.
The Wallis family
William and Catherine were newlyweds who undertook an arduous seventeen week journey by ship to arrive in New Zealand. Like many immigrants they came in search of a better life. Unlike many immigrants, Wallis purchased the Nairn Street site only after he viewed it. He chose the location specifically because there was a stream at the bottom of his town-acre site. Wallis was aware of the necessity of a safe water supply after the 1855 Wairarapa earthquake had created tidal waves that swamped Wellington town's water supply leading to several deaths from typhoid.
William had been apprenticed as a carpenter on The Crystal Palace in London. He also built hospitals in the Crimean War, which allowed him the skills and capital necessary to emigrate to the comparatively new colony. The cottage is almost entirely built of native New Zealand timber and was built by hand. His original tool chest remains in the cottage collection.
The Wallis family had 10 children altogether, but after their seventh child the family relocated to a larger house, which William also built, next door. Their descendants remained in the cottage until the late seventies when the Wellington City Council earmarked the cottage for demolition so that council flats could be built in its place. Only the tenacity of Winifred Turner, a granddaughter of William and Catherine and the last person to live in the cottage, saved the cottage and its historical value was finally recognised.
Tours, group tours, and education visits are available at the museum.
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