Coolangattaa [1]

Coolangatta was demolished in the early morning without warning two weeks before Christmas on 9 December 2006.

It had stood for 93 years since 1912 when it was designed by Bamford and Pierce as an Arts and Craft house at 464 Remuera Rd. It was one of Auckland’s most admired houses, standing on a full site with magnificent views of Auckland harbour and Rangitoto. Remuera Heritage was formed not long after this.

Peter Shaw in his book New Zealand Architecture from Polynesian beginnings to 1990 (Auckland, Hodder & Stoughton, 1991) called Coolangatta’s “pristine symmetry of its front façade behind an immaculately kept garden… one of Auckland’s most elegant architectural sights”. It was designed by Noel Bamford in 1911 after he had studied in London with eminent Edwardian architect Sir Edwin Lutyens. The entrance porch is described by Shaw as an “almost exact copy of Lutyens’s at Fulbrook, Elstead, Surrey, built in 1897. The clean-lined effect is accentuated by the orange tiles that outline the ridges of the grey-slate tiled roof. Inside the small panelled hall one enters a corridor which occupies most of the length of the house and is so spacious as to be almost a gallery.” (page 88).

Coolangatta was built for Alfred and Jessie Foster. They lived there from the time it was completed in 1913 to until 1954, with their three daughters, Mary, Esther and Dorothy. Alfred, born in Canada, was a surveyor and engineer in the Government Survey Dept., and in his own private partnership practice Harrison and Foster from 1894. However it was his wife Jessie Ellis Foster (nee Hay) who was the purchaser and owner of Coolangatta. Jessie had a half-brother Sir John Hay who was born on the Coolangatta Estate on the coast south of Sydney, Australia. Coolangatta was named from an aboriginal word ‘coolungata’ meaning ‘splendid view or good lookout’. When Sir John Hay died childless in 1909, Jessie and her 8 surviving siblings inherited a considerable fortune. Peter Macky in his book ‘Coolangatta a homage’ [1] gives a detailed and fascinating account of the history of the Foster and Hay families who lived at Coolangatta in Remuera Rd. He also writes about Morton and Margaret Coutts who purchased Coolangatta in 1954. Morton’s family was a founder of Dominion Breweries and he lived at Coolangatta until his death in 2004 aged 100.

Watch the video of the demolition of Coolangatta here.