One of the most well-known homes in Hawke’s Bay that was once owned by New Zealand’s biggest tobacco magnate has been placed on the market for sale.
The distinctive art deco property on the peak of Napier’s prestigious Bluff Hill was the family home of former National Tobacco Company managing director Gerhard Husheer. Known as ‘The Master’, Mr Husheer became one of the county’s wealthiest and most well-known businessmen.
Since the Husheer family sold the property at 10 Elizabeth Road it has functioned as an exclusive home and until recently as boutique, award-winning accommodation, The Master’s Lodge.
Built on 1,515sqm of landscaped grounds, it boasts spectacular views out to the Pacific Ocean, renowned resort and golf course Cape Kidnappers and Napier city, and offers a secluded haven from which to enjoy the best Hawke’s Bay has to offer.
After 13 years, owners Joan and Larry Blume have decided to move onto new challenges so have placed the property on the market for sale through a tender process on March 11. It is being marketed by Bayleys Napier salesperson Rex Lorigan.
The position, history, and architectural merit of the property made it ideally-suited as a distinctive home or boutique accommodation business, said Mr Lorigan.
“Located in one of the most sought-after addresses in Hawke’s Bay and presented to the highest quality, this home offers not only ultimate elegance, it is also a slice of New Zealand history,” he said.
“From the sweeping verandahs and historical features to the stunning private grounds, it is the perfect tranquil sanctuary for owners or guests to get away from it all,” he said.
“This property will appeal to a family wanting to buy an impressive family home, or an owner/operator wanting to run it as an accommodation business, which has an established reputation and the operating systems already in place to do so.”
Designed by noted architect Louis Hay, the property was created in the ‘Australasian villa’ style of the late 1800s. It was subsequently expanded and retro-fitted in the art deco and art nouveau styles by Gerhard Husheer.
Mr Husheer emigrated from Germany to New Zealand in 1911 to establish a tobacco industry here. He successfully grew experimental crops of tobacco before founding the National Tobacco Company in 1923, and a year later buying the home on Bluff Hill where he lived with his wife and three sons.
The company prospered and Mr Husheer became a legendary figure in Hawke’s Bay, where he was known for his house on the hill, being chauffeured around in a limousine, a love of art, and his generosity to the community.
In 1930 he extensively expanded and renovated the villa. When the earthquake hit the following year, the villa was one of only a few homes to remain relatively unscathed.
After the Husheers’ death the property was sold and functioned as a family home, before opening as boutique accommodation The Master’s Lodge in 1997 - which remained in operation until a year ago. Famous guests have included international politicians, Government officials and musicians.
Recognised as one of the most outstanding travel residences in the world, The Master’s Lodge won the prestigious Art Deco Merit Award for its restoration, was named one of the Five Best Art Deco Hotels in the World by the Independent News UK and One of New Zealand’s Top 10 Experiences by New Zealand Travel.
While the business is currently dormant, everything is in place for it to be restarted by a new owner, with the name, reputation, website and booking system all in place, said Mr Lorigan.
A category two heritage building, the 432sqm home features a west-facing formal lounge and a dining room leading to a drawing room enclosed by a sweeping verandah overlooking the ocean and city. Also on the ground floor are a well-equipped kitchen with pantry and utility rooms, separate billiards room, office, bedroom and ensuite.
A grand staircase leads upstairs to a solarium featuring extensive stained glass paneling, which has functioned as library and TV room for guests, and two ensuited bedrooms themed ‘Deco’ and ‘Kidnappers’. Every room in the house is immaculately presented and incorporates original details such as rose in-lays, cast iron bath tubs, porcelain fittings and a servant bell system.
The property also has a wine cellar with capacity for 1000 bottles, and several outbuildings. Mediterranean-style grounds boast established native trees and flowers. A garage and off-street parking can accommodate up to three cars.
In addition to functioning as a comfortable family home, the property also offers several opportunities for development, including re-opening the accommodation business, extending the building to increase guest capacity or subdividing the section, said Mr Lorigan.
“Very few properties stand out as having the level of quality, history, stunning location and welcoming feel this property offers. This very special slice of New Zealand history is just waiting for a new owner to take it over and create their own vision.”