I took the photo below ten years ago as we wandered around looking for entrances to the beach. I thought the house was interesting, even if it is abandoned, and posted it in sepia on a NZ photography group on Facebook.
Come to find out that some of the other photographers had played there and knew the owners, so I had to look it up.
Hubby took me back today for an updated photo, below.
Description - Fleming House is a copy of the Rutherford House in Nelson. It features three dormer windows for the
three upstairs rooms, with a plain verandah full length to the ground floor, giving the building a very
distinctive early Colonial form. It is clad in rusticated boards on the front elevation with plain lapped
boards elsewhere. A brick chimney reaches up the full height of the gabled roof at the south end. The
house is in a poor state of repair.
The suggestion of this house being a copy of the Rutherford house in Nelson could be a local myth.
This is fuelled by the house design being typical of the period in which it was built. Also many
differences between the houses exist like the positioning of the windows.
History - Fleming House was built for the Jeffries family when they moved to the district from Nelson in 1882.
The Jeffries were one of Rahotu's early settlers. It was the Jeffries family's friendship with the
Rutherfords in Nelson that led them to copy the design of the Rutherford house. Along with William
Wright, the Jeffries family came to assess the potential of the Rahotu area for farming and flax.
This house has been continuously owned by the Fleming family since 1919.
Not known but design based on Rutherford House, Nelson.
Statement of Significance - The Fleming House is important as an intact example of a colonial-style cottage, characterised by its
gable roof, verandah and the distinctive row of three matching dormer windows. Such an house is
unusual in Taranaki, and although once common in New Zealand, is now increasingly rare. It would
repay careful study for the information that could be retrieved about 19th century building practices
and materials. The house and its owners have had a long association with farming in the district,
giving the place strong historical value.
I P Stevenson, Opunake Heritage Working Party