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This site was first purchased in 1853 by Bishop Pompallier for 1,000 pounds along with the land across the road which is St Mary’s College today. Originally the area was named Mt St Mary’s. A small wooden house was built on the property and the house was lent to the Sisters of Mercy from 1854 to 1864 when a new convent was established and the Bishop took over the house for himself. The old house still remains on the property but it was moved to the St Mary’s Rd border of the property. The existing 2 storey Bishops House was completed in 1894 after funds raised by public subscription. The donors names are displayed in a glass case hanging on the wall in the corridor. Some of those donors names include the Lord Mayor of London and European Princes and Kings. The house is constructed of red pressed bricks with stone dressings and the interior floors are covered with tiles imported from France. Little of the ground floor structure has changed and from 1995 to 1997 all the ground floor rooms (and some others higher) were named after the Bishops of the Diocese. There is a private chapel which contains a marble altar purchased from Italy. Today the building is used by the Pompallier Diocesan centre.
Franklin Road is one of the main thoroughfares from Ponsonby to the lower are of Auckland around Victoria Part. There are a number of stately homes or fine examples of Art Deco architecture down this tree line avenue. Gloucester Court is one of the best examples in Auckland of Art Deco and no. 4 was the home of a master mariner James Smith.
Old Newton Police Station
The old Newton Police station first opened in 1906 and was designed by John Campbell, a Government architect. The building is has a Queen Anne façade and has been listed as a heritage building. The Newton Police continue to use the building until the mid 1970s. Today Artstation occupies the building. This is a community arts facility and provides activities for all ages all through the day.
Allendale is one of the late Victorian houses in Ponsonby. It was built for a prosperous saddler, George Allen. The house has elaborate wrought iron work on the verandahs and fence. At one time if I remember it was an Mens either boarding house or rest home but when I was there, it was a very upmarket and expensive restaurant called Orsini’s.
The Leys Institute has been in Ponsonby for what seems forever. I visited this library as a child many many times. The history dates back to William Leys (Chairman of the Ponsonby School Committee) who in the late 1800’s was concerned about boy s loitering on the streets and not receiving the benefit of education. His vision was to build a library to encourage recreational reading and learning. When Leys died in 1899, funds from a bequest he made was donated to build the Leys Institute. His brother also donated money to the library which was then opened in 1905. There was a gymnasium added in 1906 which resulted in funds donated by a local resident William Mason. The family of William Leys have been heavily involved in the running of the library over the years. In 1964 the Institute was handed over by the Leys family to the Auckland City Council.
The Ponsonby area during the 1840’s was pretty much deserted and it was not until the 1850’s that growth in the area started, primarily in Herne Bay and Freemans Bay. Ponsonby was originally known as ‘Dedwood’ and Ponsonby Road as Dedwood Tce, but was changed to the name Ponsonby in 1873 although it is not certain who the road and suburb was actually named after. Possibilities are: in honour of Sir William Ponsonby or Colonel Frederick Ponsonby – both fought at Waterloo, the Hon. Ponsonby Peacock, who was a member of the Legislative Council in the 1860s, lived on Ponsonby Road, or simply for the village in the West County of England.
Ponsonby - Post Office
The Ponsonby's post office is a historic landmark in Ponsonby. It features one of the few surviving post office towers from the Edwardian era in New Zealand. John Campbell designed the building and it was constructed in 1912 along with the Auckland Chief Post Office, Ferry Building and the Town Hall. During the early years it was the meeting point for wives, children and girlfriends who anxiously awaited news of their loved ones serving in World War 1. The Post Office was also the focus of a dramatic murder case attracting international attention 83 years ago.
The local residents decided that a clock would be preferable to the original dome and cupola above the entrance and paid to have the clock and its tower built. The clock and tower are listed as a publicly-owned timepiece in the buildings heritage covenant and the clock is maintained by the Auckland City Council and is rewound once a week. Twice the clock has narrowly missed being demolished by pressure from bureaucrats.
AUCKLAND'S GAY NEIGHBORHOOD
Both sides of Ponsonby Road are lined with hip cafes and bars. There are plenty of eateries to choose from.
This lively neighborhood has the biggest population of gays and lesbians. It gives more relax atmosphere.
No visit to Auckland is complete without a visit to Ponsonby.
Ponsonby - Western Park
Most people go to Ponsonby for the cafes and the shopping and its easy to pass this place by. It is a haven of peace right on the main road.
Western Park is one of Auckland City's oldest parks. It's historical origins date back to the 1800's along with other distinguished parks such as The Auckland Domain and Albert Park.
The distinctive sculptures on the Ponsonby Road frontage created by sculptor John Radford, are a set of three works representing buildings that once stood in Auckland
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