Historic Christchurch mansion for sale

3:57 PM Tuesday February 2, 2016 Colin Taylor

The historic McLean’s mansion is believed to be the second largest wooden building in New Zealand.

Christchurch’s historic McLean’s Mansion at 387 Manchester Street is being offered for sale ‘as-is where-is’ but with hope it may be restored by a new owner.

The sprawling house, built in 1900 for wealthy Scottish immigrant Allan McLean, was devastated in the Canterbury earthquakes.

The mansion is reputed to be the largest wooden residence in New Zealand and the second largest wooden building in the country.

Listed as a Category 1 heritage building by the New Zealand Historic Places Trust (NZHPT) the striking mansion was occupied by classrooms before the earthquakes.

Andrew Murray and family interests have owned the Manchester St property since 1987 but Murray says the cost of repairing the severely damaged house is unaffordable so they want to sell the mansion, together with its substantial site and neighbouring out buildings.

After more than 50 years of association and 30 years of having the privilege of owning and working in this beautiful heritage building and property, the family is reluctantly putting it up for sale,” Murray says. “While the mansion was damaged significantly by the earthquakes we hope a buyer might return it to its former glory.”

McLean’s Mansion has been deemed to be dangerous by the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (CERA) and independent engineers. 

Murray says a notice has been issued by CERA that it needs to be demolished which also means that access to the building is restricted to emergency purposes, damage assessment or making it safe.

Mark Macauley, general manager of Colliers International in Christchurch, who is selling the property by deadline private treaty closing March 17, says it is in two titles totalling 14,347 sq m.

Macauley says the McLean building is on a 5505 sq m lot with the 8842 sq m balance incorporating several ancillary buildings that are in “a reasonable” condition”.

 “Under the proposed Christchurch Replacement District Plan, the property is zoned Central City School while the underlying zoning is Central City Residential which opens up the site to a number of potential uses.

“It is an excellent land holding with two big street frontages. The buyer could choose to leave repairing the house for the time being and concentrate on developing the remainder of the land.”

The mansion was built in 1900 for 78-year-old bachelor Allan McLean but was used as a private home for only 13 years. McLean was one of the major run holders and was one of the wealthiest men in Canterbury in his day.

The residence was far removed from his humble beginnings as the son of a farmer-fisherman on an island off the west coast of Scotland. He commissioned then prominent architects, the England Brothers, to design the home that married Jacobean and Victorian styles.

When McLean died in 1907, the mansion was left to his housekeeper and later bought by the Government to become a Dental Nurses’ Hostel from 1957-1982.

It lay largely vacant until a partnership including the Murray family bought the property in 1987. It was then used as an educational facility specialising in supporting young people studying for vocational qualifications and adults retraining for the workforce. More than 15,000 students were taught within the building over the 30 years it was used as a training centre.