Owners put historic mansion in Christchurch up for sale

The historic McLean’s Mansion in Christchurch, devastated in the 2011 earthquakes, is being sold ‘as is where is’ by its owners.

The sprawling house, built in 1900 for wealthy Scottish immigrant Allan McLean, is listed as a Category 1 heritage building by the New Zealand Historic Places Trust (NZHPT). It was being used as classrooms before the earthquakes.

Andrew Murray and family interests have owned the Manchester St property since 1987. He says the cost of repairing the severely damaged house is unaffordable so they want to sell the mansion, together with the substantial land it sits on and neighbouring out buildings.

“After more than 50 years of association and 30 years of having the privilege of owning and working in this beautiful heritage building and property, the family is reluctantly putting it up for sale. While the mansion was damaged significantly by the earthquakes we hope a buyer might return it to its former glory,” Murray says.

McLean’s Mansion has been deemed to be dangerous by CERA and independent engineers and notice has been issued by CERA that it needs to be demolished under section 38 of the CER Act, Murray says. This also means that access to the building is restricted to emergency purposes, damage assessment or making safe.

Mark Macauley, general manager of Colliers International in Christchurch, says the property, at 387 Manchester St, is in two titles, comprising a total of 14,337sq m. The McLean building is on 5505sq m with the 8842sq m balance incorporating several ancillary buildings that are in “reasonable” condition.

“Under the proposed Christchurch Replacement District Plan, the property is zoned central city school while the underlying zoning is central city residential. This opens up the site to a number of potential uses – it’s a fabulous land area which two big street frontages.

“It is an excellent land holding and any buyer could choose to leave repair of the house for the time being and concentrate on developing the remainder of the land.” 
The property is for sale by deadline private treaty closing 17 March.

Described as a hidden gem, McLean’s Mansion is reputed to be the largest wooden residence in New Zealand and is the second largest wooden building in the country.

It was built in 1900 for 78-year-old bachelor Allan McLean but was used as a private home for only 13 years. McLean was one of the major run holders and was one of the wealthiest men in Canterbury in his day.

The mansion was far removed from his humble beginnings as the son of a farmer-fisherman on an island off the west coast of Scotland. He commissioned then prominent architects, the England Brothers, to design the home that married Jacobean and Victorian styles.

When McLean died in 1907, the mansion was left to his housekeeper and later bought by the Government to become a Dental Nurses Hostel from 1957-1982. It lay largely vacant until a partnership including the Murray family bought the property in 1987.

Since that time it has been used extensively as an educational facility, specialising in supporting young people to obtain vocational qualifications and adults entering the workforce. More than 15,000 students enjoyed the building over the 30 years it was used as a training centre.

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