Builder: W E Hutchinson

At the present we haven’t been able to determine if an architect designed Braemar, but believe the builder to have been William Elkin Hutchison and his brother and partner, James.

Our moment of revelation came when John removed the wooden mantle and fireplace surround in our bedroom to have the fireplace restored. When he leaned the wooden mantle up against the wall, we noticed that the name “W E Hutchinson” was written in lead pencil on the reverse. Given the total lack of evidence anywhere else about a builder or architect called W E Hutchinson, and that includes where we looked at the City Council, Library, School of Architecture, Museum Library etc (basically everywhere), we had decided that if we were patient the house might reveal the builder to us, and that is what has happened. So we looked in the Cyclopaedia of New Zealand, and sure enough,a W.E. Hutchison was most certainly a builder in 1901, and he specialised in private residences. The Cyclopedia even has a photograph of him, looking very smart in a bow tie!.(3)Auckland Star , December 21 1918, “Passed Away – Mr W E Hutchison” In all likelihood a fireplace specialist made the mantle for W.E.Hutchison, and wrote the name of the builder on it for identification or delivery purposes. We don’t know whether the house was designed and built, or just built, by Hutchison. The Cyclopedia of New Zealand has this to say about him:

HUTCHISON , WILLIAM E., Builder and Contractor, Jervois Rd, Ponsonby. Mr Hutchison was born in Derry, Ireland in 1858 and educated at the Model School in that town. He arrived in Auckland on the 1st of September., 1875, by the ship “Dover Castle, ” and finished his time as a builder under Major Skinner. Mr Hutchison then joined his father in partnership, and the firm was known as Hutchison and Son. A large number of private residences and buildings were erected by the firm, but upon the breaking out of the “boom” in Melbourne, the junior partner went across to that city, and acted as foreman for a Melbourne firm for some time. One his return to New Zealand he rejoined his father and has since been engaged in carrying out large contracts, such as Hellaby’s store and freezing works, Shortland Street; factory at Richmond and shop in Karangahape Road; Huntly Hotel; the large brick additions to Messrs L.D. Nathan and Co.’s bonded store in Customs Street East; the Albert Brewery in Elliot Street, and other buildings too numerous to mention. The firm recently finished erecting the D.S.C. Block of Buildings, including additions to the Central Hotel, Queen and Victoria Streets. It also makes a specialty of private residences and villas. The firm’s steam joinery works are in Lower Hobson Street, where the shop is fitted up with all the latest woodworking machines. Mr Hutchison has acted for some time as secretary of the Ponsonby Lodge of Freemasons, and is secretary of St John’s Wesleyan Church. He is also a member of the Ponsonby Bowling Club, and is a member of the council of the Auckland Technical Schools’ Association.

Unfortunately, William Hutchison died on 20th December 1918 after sustaining head injuries in a motor accident. His obituary was printed in the Auckland Star, 21st Dec 1918:

When (his father) retired he entered into partnership with his brother, Mr. James Hutchison, and carried on a successful business for a number of years. The firm erected many large blocks of buildings in Auckland.

Mr W.E. Hutchison also took an interest in public affairs. He was a member of the City Council for many years, his practical knowledge being of great value when a member of the Works Committee. Mt Hutchison also served on the Harbour Board for a number of years, and officiated for a time as deputy chairman. Deceased was an enthusiastic bowler, being a member of the Carlton Club. He was also a prominent Freemason.

He was survived by his wife Rachel, and their children William, Isabella, Olive and Douglas.(4)

(3) Cyclopedia of New Zealand 1901 Vol 2., Auckland Star, December 21 1918, ‘Passed Away’ Mr W E Hutchinson
(4) Cyclopedia of New Zealand 1901 Vol 2., Auckland Star, December 21 1918, ‘Passed Away’ Mr W E Hutchinson