From shabby to splendid

mclellandhouseexteriorfrontAn historic Rangiora homestead has been returned to its former glory as a grand family home. Jo Bailey steps inside the much-admired property, Broadgreen.

Legend has it that there is stolen money buried at the bottom of the pond at Broadgreen, but its current owners have had no luck finding it.

The property’s first owner was the manager of the Rangiora branch of the Colonial Bank. Some say that he stole money from the bank in the 1880s and buried it in the pond.

“We’ve done some digging but haven’t found anything yet,” says the current owners.

They purchased Broadgreen six years ago after prolonged private negotiations with the previous owners.

“We had always admired the house but it took a long time and a couple of attempts before we were finally able to persuade them to sell,” says the lady of the house.

Today Broadgreen is a vibrant family home for the couple and their three children aged 18, 15 and 12 years old.

But just 20 years ago the two-storey bay villa was far from grand. It was tenanted and in a bad state of disrepair. There were rotting floor and wallboards, a leaking roof, unsafe wiring, a faulty sewer and many cracked and broken windows. The residence had been identified as a fire risk by the local council and to passers-by it gave the impression of a haunted house with its dark, peeling exterior paintwork.

When the property came on the market in 1988 it could easily have been purchased and demolished by developers given its large section and central location.

But fortunately, it was taken on by a young couple who were keen to preserve its heritage. They bought the house for $148,000 and over the next 11 years spent $300,000 on its restoration.

“A large amount of credit must go to this couple who gave it their all. Sadly, the stress of the project ultimately cost them their relationship.” she says.

Broadgreen was originally built for 200 pounds in the 1880s for the banker and his wife. It was a belated wedding gift from the bride’s parents.

Five years after the banker’s sudden death in 1893 at the age of 43 (it has been said that his early death was caused by guilt) his wife sold the property to Edward Good, a local draper and councillor who also had three terms as Rangiora mayor.

Good lived there with his family until his death in the house in 1919. His obituary at the Rangiora Museum says, “While dressing, he suddenly collapsed and immediately expired.”

Edward Good is not the only person said to have died at the house. A tenant supposedly hung himself on the front balcony one Sunday morning so that local church-goers would see him on their return. Another boarder left all his belongings and fled the house, never to be seen again, when a severe storm sent a tree through his upstairs bedroom window.

Despite the folklore surrounding the house, the owners say they have never had a ghostly experience at Broadgreen.

“We always feel very comforted here, even in the middle of the night.”

The villa is nestled towards the back of its large grounds, with sweeping lawns, established trees, pond, stream and tennis court.

Its fresh, new exterior paintwork in white and grey was recently completed by three painters over a six week period after the couple had replaced “a ton of weatherboards” over the years.

They have also added a rear deck and completely redecorated the interior of the home, adding some modern aspects while remaining sensitive to the era of the residence.

The two main entrances to Broadgreen have large foyers with the original kauri joinery and stained glass windows providing a warm welcome.

A trap-door in the back foyer floor reveals a drayman’s run, or concrete ramp, down which wine and beer barrels were once rolled to the wine cellar below.

On the ground floor of the home overlooking the back garden is the large kitchen which extends into the family dining area, living room and formal dining room.

Eldest son Lewis has just returned from an AFS scholarship to re-inhabit the only downstairs bedroom.

Off the central hallway is a recreation room, full of games, books, and the couple’s exercise equipment.

A striking black and white bathroom, and ‘his and hers’ sitting rooms take up the remainder of the ground floor.

One sitting room is decorated in dark, masculine tones and has a big screen television, perfect for watching rugby matches with “the boys”.

The ladies will often escape the beers and cheering to curl up with a glass of wine in the feminine, pastel sitting room across the hallway.

Up the sweeping kauri staircase are three large bedrooms inhabited by the couple and their daughters, Chloe and Danielle. In addition there is a smaller single bedroom, bathroom and recess used for crafts and storage.

Many of the home’s original features remain such as paper rails and ceiling roses. Its six beautifully tiled fireplaces are all in working order.

A number of local people have been delighted to see Broadgreen restored to its former glory.

“There has been a few people pop in who have lived here or attended parties here in the past,” says the man of the house.

With the renovations almost complete, the family is enjoying the efforts of their labour and those who have gone before them.

“We’ve restored, renovated and repainted and hope that this will enable the old girl to last at least another 100 years.”