Avoca or Ovoca House, Victoria Avenue, Remuera

Ovoca House cnr Victoria & Sonia Avenues (Remuera Times 1983)

Scarboro Bus Delivery - A Remuera Horse Bus Company of the 1890s. (Ray Hagreaves Auckland Waikato Historical Journal, April, No 67 p11)

Scarboro's bus leaves for Purewa Cemetery (AS18971216)

Avoca Hannan new drapery (AS18830904) [7]

Avoca Hannan J H (NZH18831102) [8]

Victoria Avenue 1931 Map showing Scarborough Lot 85 (Auckland Archives Map ACC003 Sheet 17_)

The house which became Avoca House was built by Reuben Scarborough, probably in the early 1880s. Reuben Scarborough (1841-1912) had emigrated to NZ from England in 1863 and after working as an agricultural labourer purchased about 5 acres of land at the bottom of Victoria Avenue (Freehold Remuera Lot number 85 of Section No. 16), between Manawa Road and the Sacred Heart Convent, where he ran dairy cattle.

He prospered, built a large concrete house, (designed by architect Henry Greensmith Wade) in about 1881 and planted a large orchard. By the time he took over John Cutler’s horse bus business from Auckland city to Remuera in the early 1890s, he had five sons who were able to help drive the coaches. Scarboro & Sons, as they were known, changed the main route so that it ran down Victoria Avenue to their property.

The Scarboroughs had at least four buses, each pulled by three horses abreast. Their 60 or so horses rested on an area of land leased for the purpose near Lake St John and were driven down to a spring near the corner of Shore and Orakei Roads to be watered.[1] The family’s service ceased in 1898 for unknown reasons, but Reuben’s first wife Eliza had died in 1892 and he remarried to Mary Ann Morgan in 1899. In the 1890 Electoral Rolls he was listed as an orchardist at Otahuhu and from 1902 to 1910 as a farmer at Waikoukou, west of Auckland.[2] Today the Scarborough family own engineering and construction firm Scarbro.

The first mention of Avoca House in Remuera is in 1910. John Henry Hannan (1858-1936) is recorded as living in Remuera in an advertisement in the Auckland Star which offered a Jersey Grade Heifer calf for sale by J H Hannan at Avoca House, Victoria Avenue, Remuera. [4]

And again in 1911: Hannan, Avoca House, Victoria Avenue, Remuera: COW, first-class, Holstein, grade, in full profit, for Sale; Apply J. H. Hannan, Avoca House, Victoria Avenue, Remuera. [5]

Hannan’s obituary says John Hannan was born in the Vale of Avoca, County Wicklow, Ireland, in 1808, his father being a farmer and freehold land-owner in County Carlow, he served his apprenticeship to the drapery business in his native land and just after attaining his majority sailed for New Zealand. For some time after his arrival he was in the employment of Messrs. Somerfield and Leek, wholesale and retail drapers, and left their service to establish himself in the business in Victoria Street, which he carried on for many years. He was at one time a member of the City Council and of the City Schools Committee. As a justice of the peace he was a visiting justice to Mount Eden prison. [6]

He opened his drapery in Victoria Street, just off Queen Street in 1883.

His name appeared in the Cleaves residential directory in 1911 as living in Remuera.[9] And again in 1915 as being at Avoca House, on the right side down from Remuera Rd in Victoria Ave, next to the Convent of the Sacred Heart (Baradene) on Victoria Avenue.

Cleaves Directory of 1920 has Avoca House at 67 Victoria Ave between Manawa Road and Beach Road, the next property being the Convent of the Sacred Heart (Baradene). Hannan’s name remains as the owner of Avoca House until 1935. [10]

John Hannan died in 1936 and there is no mention of Avoca House or number 67 Victoria Avenue after that. It is believed that Avoca House, near Sonia Avenue, was demolished in the 1970s or early 1980s. John Hannan is buried at Purewa Cemetery in Block A Row 28 Plot 121.

Does anyone know anything more about this house? – contact us on info@remueraheritage.org.nz