On a recent sunny day about 25 Friends of Te Papa gathered at one of Wellington’s oldest homes, Crofton House in Ngaio.

The house was built in 1857 for William Fox, an explorer, politician, premier, painter and social reformer. It has been the home of the Domett family since 1979. Margaret Domett warmly welcomed us and told enthralling tales of how her family had lovingly saved and restored the house. No one else bid for it when it was being sold and friends thought they were crazy to have bought it. Fire, a gang of young men in another building on the property and a group of inherited elderly tenants were other early challenges she met and managed with good humour. Run down and divided into five flats, Margaret didn’t see it as a mess but as a potential wonderful family home and garden. An engineer reinforced her optimism by telling her the building was so strong.

During its long history, Crofton House has been a school and a home for a jeweller and a tailoring business. The Onslow Historian newsletter states that there is a strong possibility that Fox’s home incorporated an earlier house that Captain Daniell built for his family on Trelissick Farm constructed in the early 1840s. A compatible conservatory is the only major addition the Domett family have made to the home which the Friends were generously encouraged to explore. All shared and admired the courage, energy and vision the Dometts had shown in bringing this unique slice of Wellington historic architecture back to life.

Anabright Hay

Feature image: Friends of Te Papa Group visit ot Crofton House. Photo taken on the Crofton House porch. Photo by Jillian Wellings. (Photo album images provided by Jillian Wellings and Liz Medford)