St Hilda's buys million-dollar house

Ritchie House, in Heriot Row, has been bought by St Hilda's Collegiate School. Photo by Craig...
Ritchie House, in Heriot Row, has been bought by St Hilda's Collegiate School. Photo by Craig Baxter.
The St Hilda's Collegiate School Board of Proprietors has bought a historic Heriot Row property to expand the school's premises, but as yet, it has not been decided what it will be used for.

Principal Melissa Bell said 26 Heriot Row - otherwise known as Ritchie House - was for sale and the board bought it because ''basically, it was too good an opportunity to pass up''.

''It is in excellent condition, it's a large property and very close to the school. We don't know what it will be used for yet and we now have a group examining its potential use. We are on a very tight site at St Hilda's and have to think strategically in terms of property development.''

In the interim, she said the board would continue to rent the property to the present tenants during 2014.

Mrs Bell did not disclose how much the school had paid for the 0.1012ha property, but Dunedin City Council rates information show it had a capital value of $930,000 and Edinburgh Realty sales advertisements valued it at $1.65 million.

The house was completed in 1914 and is one of Dunedin's finest historical houses, situated in park-like grounds with views of the city, hills and Otago Harbour.

It is one of 84 designed by architect Basil Hooper (1876-1960) who specialised in ecclesiastical and domestic architecture. He is also known for his designs of numerous church halls, a private hospital, and a large number of commercial and industrial buildings, many of which were built in Dunedin.

The house was built for George Ritchie, the manager of the National Mortgage and Agency Company, director of other prominent businesses, and son of J.M. Ritchie, an important business leader in colonial New Zealand, along with James Mills, E.B. Cargill and William Larnach. The house has a six-decade association with the Ritchie family.

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