Topic: Risingholme, 22 Cholmondeley Avenue, Christchurch

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Community Centre and former private dwelling located in Cholmondeley Avenue, Opawa.

In 1858 50 acres at Opawa were granted to Arthur John and Frederick Denton. Two years later the pair divided the land between them, and in 1863 Arthur sold his share to Joshua Strange Williams, who was acting on behalf of Joshua Williams QC of London. The following year, the Williams' sold 11 acres of this land to William Reeves for £612. William Reeves (1823-91) was a businessman and politician who had arrived in New Zealand in 1857. He had various interests including farming, and a carting business but rose to prominence as managing director and editor of the Lyttelton Times newspaper.

In 1864 Reeves commissioned architects Benjamin Mountfort and Maxwell Bury to design a house for the property at Opawa. He would call his new house Risingholme, after the slight rise on which it was built. As Mountfort was heavily occupied with other construction during this time the bulk of Risingholme's design appears to have been undertaken by Bury. The 14 roomed timber house cost £1,392 to build and featured a combination of timbers including Baltic pine, kauri, and cedar. The extrensive grounds were also developed by Reeves during this time.

Risingholme, 22 Cholmondeley AvenueRisingholme would be the Reeves family home for the next twenty-six years, before being sold in 1891 to Leonard and George Harper, and Thomas Maude. This didn’t prove to be a long ownership as in 1894 Risingholme was conveyed by the Supreme Court to the mortgager, Union Bank of Australia, who subsequently sold the property to Eliza White in 1896.

After her death in 1909 the property passed to her daughters Maud, Rose and Beatrice, her solicitor Henry Loughnan and her accountant Arthur Read (or Reed). In 1911 the property was sold again, this time being bought by William Burns, a Cashel Street draper. After Burns was declared bankrupt in 1918 the official assignee sold the house to Mary Anderson.

Mary, and her husband, Frederick William Anderson, retained Risingholme for twenty-four years, during which time they extensively altered the house's west and south elevations, and added the deep two-level porch that projects from the western elevation. In 1940 a portion of the Risingholme estate was subdivided so that Mary and Frederick’s daughter Margaret and her new husband, Dr Otto Frankel could build a new home (9 Ford Road).

After Mary's death in 1942, Risingholme would be transmitted to the trustee of the Anderson estate, Albert Freeman, and in the following year the property was sold to the Christchurch City Council for £3,000. The purchase funded by Sir John McKenzie, managing director of the McKenzies department store chain, would gift Risingholme to the city for 'the health, amusement and instruction of the public'.

The Risingholme Community Centre opened in 1944 as one of the first community centres in the country. To adapt the building for its new use, architect G. T. Lucas, was commisioned to provide some alterations including the installation of bi-fold doors to enclose the ground floor of the western porch, and an extension of the south-western corner to provide and office for the Centre's director. Further alterations and repairs included a new roof in 1992; and in 1998, a new meeting room constructed from the former kitchen and two other rooms on the ground floor, and a new kitchen and bathroom on the first floor.

The building was damaged during the 2010-2011 Canterbury earthquakes, and in June 2016 Risingholme was badly damaged in an arson attack. The fire caused extensive damage to the roof and top story.



  • Risingholme – List Number: 3131. New Zealand Heritage List/Rārangi Kōrero.
  • Risingholme Community Centre -
  • Opawa : The Outpost on the Banks of the Heathcote / Noel Gillespie
  • Risingholme fire considered suspicious. The Press, 2016 June 8, p. A4
  • Community centre ravaged by fire.The Press, 2016 June 7, p. A2
  • Risingholme Community Centre, 50 years, 1944-1994[Christchurch, N.Z. : Risingholme Community Centre, 1994?]


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Risingholme, 22 Cholmondeley Avenue, Christchurch

Suburb :Opawa
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