Renwick House was originally called Newstead, and was the home of Sir David Monro from 1864. Monro was an active member of the Nelson Institute as well as a doctor, famous botanist and politician. Thomas Renwick, another politician and community leader, made it his family home in 1877.
Anne Renwick, the widow and second wife of Thomas Renwick, died in 1937 at age 93 while still resident at Newstead. In 1939 the Government purchased the two-acre property comprising Renwick House and surrounding grounds (the back field was then a bowling green), to support the growth of Nelson Central School. The House is still a part of the school.
Nelson Central School is now the oldest school in New Zealand still functioning on its original unitary site. The site of the present school was purchased in 1893 for 1,600 pounds. The School gained its present name in 1927, with the enrolment of both boys and girls. The newly constituted school was made up of the main building in Nile Street, which took Standards 3-6 and two side schools; Brook Street, Standards 1 and 2 and Tasman Street which housed the infants.
The main School building was rebuilt in 1930 and the façade retains all its character today.
In 1996 Renwick House was refurbished, also in character with its original style, and reopened as three classrooms with the teaching resource facilities upstairs.
Renwick House sits on a piece of higher ground in the school grounds, adjacent to an excellent playground. A large bougainvillea vine, believed to be nearly as old as the house, sits on the northwest side of the verandah. It is known by locals as the Crinkum Crankum tree, as it provided inspiration to Robyn Belton who illustrated a popular children's story written by Margaret Mahy.
Updated: April 2020
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Further sources - Renwick House
- Airey, E. (1979) Renwick: the story of a pioneer family. Wellington: Airey
- Airey, E. (2014) For the sake of my daughter : from Aberdeen, Scotland to Nelson, New Zealand. Wellington: Airey
- Allan, R. (1965). Nelson: a history of early settlement. Wellington, Auckland, New Zealand: A.H. & A. W. Reed. http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/8650658
- Bowman, I. (2005) William Beatson: colonial architect. Auckland [N.Z.]: Balasoglou Books in association with Nelson Branch, New Zealand Historic Places Trust
- Gee, Maurice (1978), Nelson Central School 1878-1978. Nelson, New Zealand: Nelson Central School Centennial Committee, pp.11-12.
- Lash, M. (1992) Nelson notables. Nelson Historical Society Nelson, NZ: Nelson Historical Society, pp.62-4.
- Mahy, M. (1997) Crinkum-crankum. Wellington [N.Z.] : Learning Media, 1997
- Stade, K. (2003) Aim high = Ki runga rawa : the story of Nelson Central School, 1878-2003, 125th Jubilee Nelson, N.Z.: K. Stade
- Vine, C. (1992) Nelson observed. Nelson, N.Z. : Nelson Institute, p.31.
- Watson, H.W. (1968?) Renwick's founder [Blenheim, N.Z.]: Marlborough Express Printing Works
- Wright-St Clair. R.E. (1971) Thoroughly a man of the world: a biography of Sir David Monro. [Christchurch]: Whitcombe and Tombs
- Allan, H. F. (1985).The story of Newstead or Renwick House. Journal of the Nelson and Marlborough Historical Societies, Oct 1985, 1(5), 31-33
- Old house refurbished for a new role (1996, June 19) Nelson Mail, p.14
- Dr Thomas Renwick. Retrieved from Marlborough Museum 23 July 2009:
- Wright-St Clair, Rex. 'Monro, David 1813 - 1877'. Dictionary of New Zealand Biography, updated 22 June 2007