Saturday, September 8, 2012

Unitec's Penman House

Auckland Star 1 February 1930

Enquiries that land on my digital desk about the story behind Penman House, Building 55 on the Unitec Campus at Mt Albert, near the corner of Woodward and Carrington Roads are just about as perennial as the grass. Sorry, at the moment I haven't got an up-to-date image of the building handy, but it hasn't changed all that much as far as the exteriort is concerned, the most visible change behing that the double open return verandah seen here in the 1930 image has been covered in over time.

I'll leave this post mainly in note form (Timespanner is, after all, a research lab, and things are added all the time).

At Auckland a new residence has been erected for the Medical Superintendent … 
(AJHR - Appendix to the Journals of the House of Representatives -  1909 D1 p. xi)

Dr Beattie is now living in the Medical Superintendant’s residence, which has been well and economically built by the staff and patients, with a little outside assistance.
(AJHR 1910 H7, p.10)
It is proposed during the current year to transform the Medical Superintendent's residence into an additional neuropathic unit for female patients, on the lines of the Wolfe Home. This house, which contains fifteen rooms, is too large for its present purpose, and will provide good accommodation for at least twenty patients. A new Superintendent's residence can be built with a view to its saleability when the evacuation of the institution becomes possible.

(AJHR 1929 H7 p2)

The Medical Superintendant’s residence at Auckland is far too large for its present purpose, and it is proposed to convert it into a residential clinic with accommodation for about twenty patients.

(AJHR 1930, H7 p2)

Recently the Mount [Albert] Borough Council passed a resolution protesting against the establishment of a special ward in the present residence of the medical superintendent of the Auckland Mental Hospital at Avondale. The protest was not supported at a meeting of the Mount Albert Ratepayers' Association last evening. "While there are points to be raised against the proposal, there are many factors in its favour," said the chairman, Mr. P. Floyd. "In all the years the hospital has been in existence, there has never to my knowledge been any trouble. A protest would be quite useless, because work has already been commenced on the doctor's new residence." No action was taken.
(Auckland Star 26 February 1930)

Strong objection was taken by the council members to the conversion of the residence of the medical superintendent of the Auckland Mental Hospital into a home for incipient mental patients. Mr. G. C. Munns, M.P., for Roskill, had sent a letter to the Minister of Health (Hon. A. J. Stall worthy) embodying this objection.

"I notice, that the Mount Albert Terminus Ratepayers' Association does not see eye to eye with us in this matter," said Mr. G. E. Carr. This was a great pity, he thought, particularly as one of the prime movers in the association was a former council member. Mr. Carr considered that such an attitude on the part of the association did not accurately represent the considered opinion of the terminus residents.
(Auckland Star 12 March 1930)

1930s, Robin Hyde was an inmate at "The Lodge", as the house was then known. From Young Knowledge, The poems of Robin Hyde: "Hyde's room on the first floor of The Lodge had two sets of windows facing north and west and looking onto the enclosed sleeping porch that extended around those sides of the building now called Penman House on the Unitec campus. Hers was the only private room at The Lodge; other patients slept in dormitory rooms."

A most enjoyable afternoon party was held at the lodge of the Mental Hospital last week. The function was organised by Mrs. A. E. Armitage, one of the official visitors to the institution, to raise funds for the purchase of tools and materials for the arts and crafts classes. A most generous response was made during the afternoon to Mrs. Armitage's appeal.

The guests were received by Miss Mayze, the matron of the Mental Hospital. Songs and musical items were rendered by Mesdames Rattray and G. Crespin, and recitations were given by Miss D. Saunders.

The main hall and drawing room were artistically decorated with autumn-tinted flowers and clusters of green. A dainty afternoon tea, which was arranged by the matron, was served in the dining room. The guests were conveyed to and from the hospital in the cars of Mesdames Clark, F. Wilson, Kirkup and L. Caughey, and the Misses Fleming, Rishworth, Mason and Sumerville. 

(Auckland Star 5 May 1936)

Locked and closed doors are gradually being dispensed with, and the future shows us open, sunny homes like the unit and the lodge, two of the ideal houses at the Auckland institution, where the mentally sick convalesce before going home. 
 (Auckland Star 21 October 1940)

A young nurse is in charge of the Wolfe Home, where between 40 and 50 men and women are convalescent. Fully-trained, with eight years' experience, this nurse has to do all the cooking herself (since domestics and cooks are also hard to get), as well as nursing, housework and supervision of the patients. She has only one nurse to help her, the patients themselves the rest of the domestic work. A third nurse is in charge of the Lodge, where 24 women are on the road to recovery. She is entirely on her own, and here again, as everywhere in the hospital, patients, who are well enough help do the work. These figures are typical of the general position at the hospital.
(Auckland Star 5 August 1944)
"In grounds of Oakley Hospital. Baptist City Mission Board, leased in & transformed the house, formerly a female ward called "the Lodge" into a family type hostel for psychiatric patients on leave."
 (NZ Index card entry, Auckland Scrapbook  December 1973- p.169, Auckland Library)

At some point, "The Lodge" may have become known as "Oakley Lodge". When the Baptists applied to lease it from the Auckland Hospital Board in 1973 as a hostel for ex-psychiatric patients, they proposed to name it "Carrington House" (NZ Card Index). That name seems to have been superceded by "Penman House".
"Penman House has been leased from the Auckland Hospital Board by the Baptist City Mission and is a supervised boarding house for pyschiatric patients on leave. Named after the Penman family."
 (NZ Index card entry, Central Leader 24 October 1973, p.18, Auckland Library)

[This Penman House not to be confused with the "Penman House" named as 65 Lloyd Ave, Mt Albert in the Owairaka/Mt Albert Heritage Walks booklet (page 31). Although the true Penman House at Woodward/Carrington Road corner was so-named after the same family.] 

"Local residents protest at purchase of 145 Carrington Rd by Auckland Area Health Board for use as a halfway house for ex-psychiatric patients."

 (NZ Index card entry, Central Leader 23 January 1991, p.1, Auckland Library)

Last time I was inside Penman House, early last decade, it was administration offices. 

Update 9 September 2012:

The sun shone a bit today, so I took photos of the building.

Penman House dominates the landscape. The top of the roofs of the building are visible from the overbridge at the Mt Albert shops.

From Carrington Road, east elevation.

North elevation, main entrance.

View from the north-west corner.

West elevation. Taken from down a slight slope.

Storage building at the rear.

Southern elevation.

Eastern elevation.

All in all, for around 103 years old -- not a bad looking old lady. 

1 comment:

  1. Great photos and history thanks Lisa I always wondered about that old house.