Hawthorne House Historical Villa
Built at the start of the 20th century, the house was previously the residence of a Hastings doctor and his family. Located on a corner block close to the racecourse, no expense was spared in the house’s construction. Building work took over a year to complete, with all the stained glass being manufactured in London and shipped out via steamship, and all the timber being cut locally with mouldings hand-shaped by local craftsmen.
On the 3rd February, 1931 Hawke’s Bay experienced a deadly earthquake measuring 7.8 on the Richter scale. With a wooden structure, the house withstood the quake, and any fires in Hastings were quickly doused using water from the city’s aquifer. This was unfortunately not the case for neighbouring Napier, which was decimated by fire having no such water source.
It was also not the case at the site upon which the house now stands, which was originally the Borthwick freezer works, one of the largest employers in Hawke’s Bay at that time. It too was destroyed by the earthquake and lay in ruins for many decades.
Locals who have visited remember playing in the ruins until as late as the 1960's when the site was cleared and the house moved here from its original location. The house was sawn into three, loaded onto trucks and moved from Hastings. At the time it was one of the largest house moves ever seen in the area.
In 1975, the house was offered for sale in its current location and was purchased by a local family who lived there for some 20 years.
The foundations of the freezer works still remain. Being around half a metre thick, they survived 'the big one' with just a few cracks. The freezing works had its own railway platform. This is still in place, and now overlooks a large duck pond.
Here's a photo of the works prior to the earthquake:
The shrub-like young trees shown in the picture are now over 100 years old. 33 of the original 36 have survived. They form a magnificent canopied approach to the house.