McLean's Mansion

Built in 1899, McLean's Mansion is situated at 387 Manchester Street.

'George LeBrun up ladder at McLean''s Mansion'
George LeBrun up ladder at McLean's Mansion. Contributor (ctb): Sandra Serra. No known copyright

In 1895 Allan McLean, a wealth runholder, purchased Town Reserve 112 (which faced Colombo Street) and Town Reserve 131 (which faced Manchester Street) along with part of Town Reserve 40. McLean commissioned Robert West England junior, of the architectural firm, England Brothers, to design him a town house which was to be erected on the Colombo Street section.

The building was designed in the Jacobean style of architecture and took inspiration from Mentmore Towers in Buckinghamshire, England. The influence of Mentmore Towers is most notable in the arcaded gallery with the glass skylight. At the time of its construction, between 1899 and 1900, it was believed to be the largest wooden residence to be built in New Zealand. The builders were Rennie and Pearce.

Following the death of McLean in 1907 his housekeeper, Emily Phillips, resided in the house with her staff until 1913. The house then became a home for beneficiaries operated by the McLean Institute, a charitable organisation founded by McLean. It remained in this capacity until 1955 when it was sold to the Health Department for use as a hostel for dental nurse trainees. This resulted in internal alterations, including the removal of walls between both the office and breakfast room and the kitchen and scullery. The former servants’ hall was also extended into an adjoining passage.

The building remained in this role until 1977 when it was leased to the Salvation Army to temporarily house elderly women while Resthaven was being constructed. From 1980 to 1982 the building was leased by St Vincent de Paul Society. It remained empty until 1987 when it was purchased by the Murray family who ran the training institution, the Christchurch Academy.

In 1983 the building was registered as a Category 1 Historic Place by the New Zealand Historic Places Trust.

As a result of damage sustained during the earthquakes in 2010 and 2011, the building required emergency stabilisation. Further damaged occurred to the interior due to vandalism.

The building was purchased in 2018 by the McLean’s Mansion Charitable Trust, which was formed to oversee the restoration of the building.