The tale of the preservation of Lake House – its removal from Takapuna Beach, and the tribulations that beset the Trust that formed to save it – could be seen as a warning of the perils of taking on preservation of an historic building. But a meeting with foundation members of the Lake House Trust reveals a saga not only of battles, but of laughter, friendships and memories as they recall what they did, 20 years ago, to save one of Takapuna’s last remaining historic homesteads.
Lake House certainly has a history. Rajneesh and disciples of Ananda Marga were apparently once residents. As were Hello Sailor, DD Smash, Lip Service and other ’70s New Zealand pop royalty, actor Warwick Broadhead, artists, even (now-Councillor) Chris Darby. In true ’70s style, pot was grown, sprouts and macrobiotics were the culinary food trends du jour, and 127 Hurstmere Road was known, if nothing else, as the place to party on the Shore, a reputation that continued well into the ’80s.
“There’s the history of the building, but there’s also the social history connected with this house, because it’s gone from family, to a holiday home, to a squat,” says Julia Mildren, who lived in Lake House in the 1970s.
“It was such a wonderful location,” says artist and 1990s resident Tony Ogle. “I’ve still got this memory of having a party there. At the end of the night… standing on the balcony with the full moon glistening over the gulf and seeing the outline of Rangitoto…. It was so special to be there, because you were looking over the roofs of the houses in front but you felt like you were the only one on the beach.”
Lake House was not as well-known as other Takapuna homesteads, as it was set back from the beach and masked from Hurstmere Road by commercial buildings, but its heart both structurally and figuratively was as sound as ever. It stood as an emblem of a heritage that Takapuna had almost entirely lost.
In 1983 it was bought by Bob Green, landlord and developer, prompting Julia to record the history of the house. But it had an A heritage classification, preventing demolition or removal; its future, it seemed, was secure.
Not so. In 1984, the land owner asked Takapuna City Council to delete the house from its historic buildings list. The Council apparently listened to the sole supporter of the proposal, rather than the 23 objectors, and the A classification disappeared. For a decade, little changed: tenants came and went; parties continued to attract people from all over. Then, in 1995, Lake House was suddenly under threat of demolition, with a proposal to build The Sands apartments right where the house stood.