Alberton Celebrates 50 Years Open To The Public
A stunning historic Mt Albert mansion, once the heart of colonial Auckland’s social elite, has celebrated its 50th anniversary of being open to the public.
Alberton, cared for by Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga, has racked up its first half century as one of Auckland’s most authentic and fascinating historic attractions.
“Visit Alberton and you enter a different world,” says Visitor Services Coordinator Rendell McIntosh, who has been a staff member at the heritage gem for the past 18 years.
“From its original Victorian-era wallpaper through to the graffiti on the wall in the servants’ quarters still visible in the upstairs attic, Alberton takes every visitor on their own personal journey of discovery.”
People from all over the world have long admired the exotic-looking kauri-clad building which started life as a modest farmhouse in 1863 and was transformed into a Raj-inspired landmark, complete with ogee-shaped towers by Allan Kerr Taylor and his second wife Sophia in 1872, and the south extension in 1920. The transformation was inspired by Allan Kerr Taylor’s early life in India.
Fifty years and over half a million visitors later, the homestead in the heart of suburban Mt Albert still packs a lot of wow factor.
It has also been a favourite location for movie makers hosting such performers as Jodie Foster, John Lithgow and David Bowie within its elegant walls, while also serving as an authentic backdrop for movies like The Piano. More recently, Albeton has featured in the Brokenwood Mysteries which is now screened in 150 countries around the world.
At least two Prime Ministers – Helen Clark and Jacinda Ardern – have also enjoyed visiting Alberton.
In more recent years, the house has been visited by Ella Yelich O’Connor – aka Lorde – and her family on numerous occasions, with the recording star writing in the visitor book, “my favouorite old house since I was a child”.
For Rendell, however, it’s not all glamour. Alberton is a perennial favourite venue for weddings and other formal occasions – a source of great personal satisfaction over the years, as well as hard work.
“We have enjoyed looking after visitors as well as assisting with a huge variety of functions ranging from humble to extravagant events like birthdays, weddings – 45 over one summer is the record – as well as wedding photographs, engagements, our annual tea party, celebration of life services and many schools and specialist group visits – to say nothing of our popular annual Vintage Market Day,” he says.
“Over the years we have had invaluable support from staff, contractors and our volunteers to ensure the famed wonderful service and hospitality continues. We are also, of course, very grateful to Muriel Kerr Taylor who bequeathed Alberton to the then NZ Historic Places Trust – Now Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga – in 1972.
“A year after she passed away Alberton opened to the public – and has been open ever since. It’s wonderful that Muriel and the Kerr Taylor family’s legacy lives on for others to enjoy.”