Whangarei's oldest house started life as a small cottage, the home of Robert Reyburn Junior, son of one of the first settlers in the area. Robert and his brothers James and John are commenorated in the central city street names. It expanded, presumably as Robert's family grew or perhaps as he prospered; the family were involved in the wool and shipping industries. It is the only surviving house of the original pioneer settlement. It fell into ruin as the area around it became industrial.
I remember its move to its current location in 1984, and learned yesterday that there had been an earlier move in 1972. It has been the home of the Northland Society of Arts since 1966 and thanks to their efforts now this gracious, lovingly restored and preserved colonial building is an art gallery.
One of the ladies working in the gallery told me that when it came time to redecorate the inside of the house the Historic Places Trust had insisted that they apply wallpaper reminiscent of the era of the house. But the Arts Society had won that argument and made sure the inside is vibrant and alive. It sure is!
I'm glad this topic gave me the incentive to find out a bit more about the history of Reyburn House. It's a lovely building, a place I like to visit occasionally and I will appreciate it a bit more now I think. I know I'm going to enjoy looking at the oldest buildings in the rest of the FSO team's towns.