Tours of the Bishop’s Palace in St Mary’s Bay have proved popular at the Auckland Heritage Festival.
The historic building at 30 New St was completed in 1894 and is the residence of the Roman Catholic Bishop of Auckland.
Ponsonby Business Association event organiser Everall Deans says they had to turn down more than 50 people for the tour this year.
“Last year was a bit of a stampede so we’ve had to reduce the numbers to make the tour more manageable from a safety point of view and to enhance the visitor experience,” Deans says.
The tour is popular because it gives the the public rare access to a private and beautiful heritage building – one that makes a statement, he says.
“Plus it’s a secret gem. Not many people know about the building.”
It is one of the largest intact buildings from the Victorian era in New Zealand, Dean says.
The site of the building was first established in 1838 by New Zealand’s first Catholic bishop – Jean Baptiste Francois Pompallier from France.
Pompallier declared he had come to New Zealand to serve in “God’s furthest outpost”.
The building was designed by an architecture firm which promoted the revival of Gothic style buildings in Auckland.
It’s one of Auckland’s first houses lit by electricity and still has its original porcelain toilets.