History of the Manor
Merivale Manor was first built in 1882 as the home of a prominent businessman Henry Richard Webb (1829-1901). Webb was a member of the Provincial Council (1869-75) and Member of Parliament for Lyttelton (1873-75). The family were living in Lyttelton in 1881 when this section in Papanui Rd was purchased. Henry's wife, Augusta's family were already living in the area. Her sisters and brother and their social network of family and friends probably influenced the purchase.
Samuel Farr was engaged as the architect - he had been living and working in Akaroa since arriving from England in 1850. His designs have some distinctive details. One is that he featured timber circles inside double verandah supports which is recognisable in houses in the Akaroa area. His plan for the Webb featured a square Italianate house with a wide verandah and a small central balcony on the first floor.
The family was large, so the plan was for eight bedrooms plus the usual reception rooms. The rear comprised a single storey servant's quarters, which was destroyed by fire around 1890. The house is weatherboard, probably Kauri, with a corrugated iron roof.The interior has decorative plasterwork and marble fireplaces. It is thought to be a good example of Samuel Farr's work.
From the time of Webb's death in 1901 the land surrounding the house was progressively sub-divided and by 1911 it had become a boarding house. As happened to many large houses in that era, it was sold many times, eventually becoming hidden from Papanui Rd behind a 1950's brick house. Fortunately a conversion and restoration plan was agreed and in 2004/5 the house was adapted to become the central feature of the accommodation complex that exists today. The house's internal floor plan is preserved, externally it is the focus of the Merivale Manor complex - standing proudly at 132 years old.