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Firefighters were called to the fire at a 105-year-old house on Park Tce, which borders Hagley Park, about 1.15am on Sunday.
The man is expected to appear in the Christchurch District Court at 10am on Monday.
The Fire and Emergency NZ spokesman said while the building was not destroyed, it had suffered "significant damage".
"As the fire escalated, so did our response."
At the height of the blaze, six fire engines battled the flames.
There were no reports of injuries, as the building was unoccupied at the time.
The house is one of only four left in Park Terrace's historic area.
Of the 15 individual buildings that made up the historic area, four remain after the earthquakes.
The home was unoccupied at the time of the fire and suffered extensive damage.
It has a rateable value of $2.5 million.