A visit to the gardens of Olveston is free and allows you to admire the double brick Jacobean-style building with a plaster and Moeraki gravel finish and Oamaru stone facings. An imposing 35 room mansion showing pronounced Jacobean influence, Olveston was designed by Sir Ernest George, a British architect, and, constructed by builder Robert Miekle, and completed in 1906.
Although the exterior has considerable architectural detail, it doesn’t prepare you for the wealth of treasures inside. Olveston was ahead of it's time in the turn of the century Otago context, with telephones, central heating, ensuites with heated towel rails, an elevator and electricity generated by gas. Your tour takes you to 15 of the 35 rooms. Of these the Great Hall is particularly impressive with its oak staircase made in Britain. The floors, too, covered with Persian rugs, are mostly oak. The furniture is in the style of Sheraton and Chippendale with Hepplewhite chairs. Adorning the rooms are Oriental ceramics, jade, silver, bronze, brass and ivory pieces, a collection of weapons and many fine paintings.
The fascinating kitchen, scullery, butler’s pantry and servants’ bell call board add another dimension to the story of the lives of the family of a very prosperous the prosperous Theomin family.
Patriarch David Theomin had made his way from Bristol to Dunedin via Melbourne, and participated in Dunedin's business life with much fervour. However his two children died without leaving heirs, leaving the homestead and its contents in the Dunedin City Council hands in 1966.
Now managed by a charitable foundation, the mansion is open to the public and an easy walk from the Octagon.
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Note: Location is approximate.