Heritage Stone Homestead Given New Lease Of Life
A friend said it had ‘potential’. Robin and Jimmy, with a toddler and a five-year-old in tow, went to have a look as they needed a yard to store equipment for their growing civil construction company.
It was 2015 when the couple came across ‘Hexton’, an 1880’s stone homestead on the fringes of Roxburgh in Central Otago. With oodles of enthusiasm, they thought the somewhat rundown house on the property could be made habitable in just a few months.
If these walls could talk, they would have plenty to say. The property was originally purchased by one John Ingles in 1880 and was known at that time as ‘Halwyn’. Sold to John Harris in June 1883, he ran it as a business carrying coal to the dredges and fruit to the railhead at Edievale. He built two glasshouses, one 100ft by 30ft on the roadside built of stone, and another smaller one behind the house. Both were heated with coal furnaces and Black Hamburg grapes were planted in the roadside one. It was re-named ‘Hexton’ after James Gilmour bought it in 1919.
Fast forward to today, and Robin says the house had “great bones” when they bought it. She admits she was buoyed with enthusiasm generated by years of watching renovation and house and garden shows.
“The reality is it had been neglected for a decade and it took us a year to do the major work and move in,” she says. “We put a new roof on first then spent many more years gradually taking it apart so we could put it back together.
“Five years ago my husband proposed and we decided to get married in the glasshouse, which now an impressive pergola but still has the Hamburg grapevine, and laid 4,000 pavers the summer before we got married in February 2020.”
The next few years were rough, says Robin, as the pandemic affected their business and she contracted breast cancer, slowing down work on the extensive property.
“I’ve been through chemo in this house and only now have had the energy and ability to carry on and finish the renovation. I also managed to break my leg while painting the staircase!”
The end result is outstanding, a magnificent homestead that has been meticulously and impeccably restored. Rooms that were once dark and gloomy now reverberate with light and colour, and the kitchen is a cook’s dream with a 3 phase commercial standard oven and porcelain double butlers sink sitting harmoniously alongside custom cabinetry built from reclaimed elm and oak.
Central heating, air conditioning and updated electrical and plumbing tick the box on all modern conveniences, while exposed stone walls, window seats, a claw foot bath and heritage fittings are reminders of the home’s grand history.
Additional buildings and outhouses including a 200m2 workshop have also been brought into the present time, gardens are beautifully landscaped and a small orchard boasts a range of fruit trees.
With their children now older there are plans for schooling in Dunedin. Robin says it will be a “wrench” to leave.
“It’s very bittersweet to say goodbye to it given all the work we’ve done, but I feel really blessed to have spent the time with Jimmy, working together and renovating together, it’s brought us closer.
“I’ve learned to use new tools, problem solve, and to paint like a professional. The house is restored but in a practical way that’s still very comfortable, it’s real family living.”
View the live listing here and make this Central Otago treasure yours.