Timeline

David TheominDavid Theomin

David Ezekiel Benjamin

David Ezekiel Benjamin, later known as David Edward Theomin, was born in Bristol, Gloucestershire, England, on 25 April 1852. His father, Joseph Benjamin, a Jewish Rabbi, had emigrated from Prussia earlier in the nineteenth century and discontinued the name of Theomin. His mother, Esther Braham, was Joseph's second wife, and he had two half-brothers, one half-sister, and one sister.

« 11 May, 1852 »

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Marie Theomin (née Michaelis) 1855-1926, standing.  [Tuttle & Co. Melbourne] Inscribed: "Melbourne 1880/81"Marie Theomin (née Michaelis) 1855-1926, standing. [Tuttle & Co. Melbourne] Inscribed: "Melbourne 1880/81"

Marie Michaelis

Marie Michaelis was born on 12 October, 1855 and was the second child born to Moritz and Rahel [nee Gotthelf] Michaelis. A daughter born earlier than Marie did not survive so she became the oldest child in a big family of eleven others younger than herself. Mr Michaelis was a prominent Melbourne businessman who later joined with his nephew, Isaac Hallenstein in a tannery business at Footscray. The Michaelis family home called Linden still survives in St Kilda as a community arts centre, and a fine photograph of the house in its hey-day is on display in the reception area at Olveston.

Michaelis family group on the steps of Linden c.1890Michaelis family group on the steps of Linden c.1890

« 12 October, 1855 »

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David TheominDavid Theomin

The year early years

David was educated at Wharton's School in Queen's Square and then, from January 1862 to December 1864, at Bristol Grammar School. After serving an apprenticeship in the hardware trade, he worked for three years for Platnauer Brothers, merchants.

« 1862 »

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P. Falk and Company advertP. Falk and Company advert

Melbourne, Australia

In 1874 he sailed for Melbourne, Australia, where his half-brother, Abraham Benjamin, lived. There he worked for P. Falkand Company, wholesale jewellers.

David Benjamin first visited New Zealand in 1878. On 29 November he was shipwrecked near Tauranga on the steamer Taranaki, but no lives were lost.

By 1879 he was back in Melbourne, and on 21 January he married Mary Ann (known as Marie) Michaelis, eldest daughter of the successful businessman Moritz Michaelis.

« 1874 »

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David, Marie and their children Dorothy and EdwardDavid, Marie and their children Dorothy and Edward

David Benjamin marries Marie Michaelis

It was in Melbourne David married Marie Michaelis , and at the end of 1879, the newly-weds had moved to New Zealand to establish a home in Dunedin.

Once established in Dunedin, David and Marie started a family. Their son, Edward Moritz Theomin was born 29 January 1885 and Dorothy Michaelis Theomin born 24 December 1888.

« 31 January, 1879 »

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Benjamin and Co building, DunedinBenjamin and Co building, Dunedin

Benjamin and Company and the Dresden Piano Company

During the 1880's David Theomin established himself as a very successful businessman, developing the mercantile firm of Benjamin and Company and opening branches of his Dresden Piano Company throughout New Zealand.

His new-found success was shared with the community, particularly the Dunedin Public Art Gallery. This support complemented his passion for art. By 1900 his distinctive, enthusiastic style for collecting art, typical of the late Victorian era, was at its height.

Advertisement for the Dresden Piano CompanyAdvertisement for the Dresden Piano Company

« 1880 »

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Edward as a young manEdward as a young man

Edward Moritz Theomin

Edward, the only son of David and Marie Theomin was born on 29 January 1885.

He was educated at Otago Boys' High School (1899-1901). After leaving school, he took up employment in his father's business as a warehouseman. Edward was destined to follow in his father's footsteps in business but the Great War intervened and he was soon fighting for his country in France.

After the war he married Ethyl Moccatta in London before returning to Dunedin. It was a childless marriage. The war had taken its toll and by 1924 his health began to decline. He died in 1928.

Edward (centre) with friendsEdward (centre) with friends

« 29 January, 1885 »

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Dorothy in the garden at OlvestonDorothy in the garden at Olveston

Dorothy Michaelis Theomin

On 24 December 1888 Marie Theomin gave birth to Dorothy Michaelis Theomin.

Her early education was at Miss Miller's School, Braemar, Moray Place, Dunedin.

Dorothy in costumeDorothy in costume

« 24 December, 1888 »

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David and Dorothy by the beach c.1902David and Dorothy by the beach c.1902

Travels overseas

In 1901 David, Marie and Dorothy travelled to Europe.

From New Zealand, they headed first to Australia, then to Hong Kong, China and Japan. From Japan, the family travelled through Canada before arriving in New York before crossing the Atlantic for England. In London, David attended the coronation of Edward VII on 9 August 1902.

In England, Dorothy was enrolled at the prestigious Independent Girl's School Roedean near Brighton, while her parents continued travelling in Europe.

« 1901 »

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Roedean School for girls near Brighton c.1907Roedean School for girls near Brighton c.1907

An English Education

Between 1902 and 1905, Dorthy studied at Roedean on the Sussex Coast, a new school founded in 1885 by Dorothy, Penelope and Millicent Lawrence. Roedean broke away from the stifling restraints of later Victorian education for women and encouraged its pupils to develop inquiring minds and self-reliance, both physical and mental.

« 1902 »

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Sir Ernest GeorgeSir Ernest George

Architect and the House

When Mr and Mrs Theomin set off on an extensive trip to America, Europe and the Far East in 1902, they were much taken up with the objective of building a fine home for themselves in Dunedin. In their search for an architect, they first looked at the work of a Canadian before they settled upon Sir Ernest George in the London partnership of Ernest George and Yeates.

While in London in 1903, the Theomins obtained working drawings from Sir Ernest George for a Jacobean-style mansion. Sir George’s name is associated with Philip Webb and Norman Shaw among others, who greatly influenced.

« September 1902 »

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Original floor plans provided by Ernest George and Yeates Abbott, November 1903Original floor plans provided by Ernest George and Yeates Abbott, November 1903

Designing a family home

Sir Ernest George provided extensive drawings and designs for all aspects of the house, including stain glass window designs, joinery, the operations of the lift and layout of the servant call button system.

Copies of Sir Ernest's drawings are kept at Olveston.

« November 1903 »

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The building of Olveston c.1905The building of Olveston c.1905

Building a family home

Olveston was constructed between 1904-1906 by Robert Miekle, with Mason and Wales supervising the project.

Built with every modern convenience, Olveston was fitted with central heating, a gas generator for electricity, a shower in each bathroom and heated towel rails, an internal telephone system and service lift.

The house had 35 rooms (including a vestibule, hall, drawing room, bedrooms, billiard room, card room (or Persian room), kitchen, scullery, butler’s pantry, library and dining room).

« 1904 »

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Olveston c.1906Olveston c.1906

'Olveston' 42 Royal Terrace, Dunedin

The London firm of Green & Abbott were responsible for much of the interior design, including the English oak joinery. The original wallpapers were manufactured in Buffalo, New York and selected by the Theomins on one of their trips to America.

The exterior walls of Olveston are constructed of brick and plaster with a Moeraki gravel finish and faced with Oamaru stone, finished with Marseilles roof tiles.

Soon after returning from their travels around Europe, the family move in to their new family home.

The Drawing Room c.1908The Drawing Room c.1908

« 1906 »

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The vestible decorated with Japanese weaponry from the 17th and 18th century (image c. 1930)The vestible decorated with Japanese weaponry from the 17th and 18th century (image c. 1930)

Furnishing Olveston

During his lifetime David Theomin oversaw the collection to contain over 240 original artworks, many bronze statues, silver and gold objects of art and domestic items, antique furniture from Europe, America and Asia, Japanese cloisonné and ivory, Chinese jade and ceramics, a vast collection of 18th and 19th century Japanese weaponry to highlight a few areas of the collection.

The passion for collection was a family affair, with Dorothy continuing to furnish Olveston with art objects up until her death in the 1960s.

The Great Hall c.1910The Great Hall c.1910

« October 1910 »

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Dorothy and Edward Theomin climbing companion at the Haast Ridge Bivouac, March 1913, photographer: Jack LippeDorothy and Edward Theomin climbing companion at the Haast Ridge Bivouac, March 1913, photographer: Jack Lippe

Dorothy and the Mountains

Dorothy was keenly interested in outdoor pursuits. As a member of the New Zealand Alpine Club, she climbed and tramped in the Southern Alps over many years.

Olveston has on display a record of her climbs and transits in the Alps. When her climbing days were over, she continued to spend time at Franz Josef and its environs where, during much of the year, the air was friendlier to her asthmatic condition than that of the East Coast.

Photography was one of her many talents and she was recognised as a skilled mountain photographer.

« 1913 »

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Edward in military uniformEdward in military uniform

Edward goes to war

In January 1917, Edward enlisted in the army and underwent training at Trentham during that year, earning his sergeant's stripes in September, attached to the Otago Regiment. He was posted overseas with the second draft of the 31st Reinforcements, sailing in the "Wallachia" in November 1917. By March 1918, he had been transferred to the Wellington Regiment and preceded to active service in France. For two months, he experienced field duty with No 1 New Zealand Infantry Battalion before being evacuated with bronchitis. He was back on active duty in Etaples late in May 1918.

« January 1917 »

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1921 Fiat 510 Tourer, purchased in 19221921 Fiat 510 Tourer, purchased in 1922

1921 Fiat 510 Tourer

In 1922 Mr Theomin took delivery of a brand new Fiat 510 Tourer.

This limousine was a classic example of elegant European motoring. 3.4 litres of driving pleasure, the car was used by the Theomins for many journeys into Central Otago and up the east coast of the South Island.

« 1922 »

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Marie Theomin (née Michaelis) 1855-1926, photograph: Dorothy TheominMarie Theomin (née Michaelis) 1855-1926, photograph: Dorothy Theomin

Marie Theomin dies

Throughout the last two decades of her life, Marie Theomin was occupied in a voluntary capacity with various public and charitable works.

Very soon after Olveston was completed, she was hostess at a small dinner party and the guests around the table were all influential in the formation of the Society which came into being about a month later on 14 May, 1907. She remained actively involved in the Plunket Society which became internationally famous for its work in support of mothers and young children.

Mrs Theomin died on 24 July, 1926 aged 71.

« 24 July, 1926 »

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David and DorothyDavid and Dorothy

David and Dorothy

After retirement, David kept an active life, travelling and engaged in the arts, particularly the Dunedin Public Art Gallery. By 1900 his distinctive, enthusiastic style for collecting art, typical of the late Victorian era, was at its height. His wide interests in the arts also included a passion for music. He was a member of the Royal Dunedin Male Choir. He was also very engaged with the local Jewish Community.

« 1927 »

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Dorothy Theomin in the garden at OlvestonDorothy Theomin in the garden at Olveston

Dorothy Theomin in the garden at Olveston

Dorothy Theomin in the garden at Olveston

Hocken Collection: ex-msf 1164 2-77-20

NZ Alpine Club Negative album Printed from original archive's negative.

« November 1930 »

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Daivd TheominDaivd Theomin

David Theomin dies

David Theomin dies at Olveston on 15th July 1933, aged 81.

« 15 July, 1933 »

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Dorothy and Lu GrahamDorothy and Lu Graham

Living at Olveston

After the death of her parents, Dorothy continued to live at Olveston.

She had an active social life and continued pursuing her personal interests in photography, climbing and riding.

Dorothy also took up many of the charitable causes supported by her parents including serving as a board member of the Plunket Society as her Mother. Dorothy also shared her Father's passion and interests in the arts, serving for many years on the board of the Dunedin Public Art Gallery Society and as patron and collector of contemporary art of the day.

Dorothy (far left) with unknown ridersDorothy (far left) with unknown riders

« 1937 »

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Dorothy and Margaret Graham, Franz Joseph 1935, photographer: Mark LysonsDorothy and Margaret Graham, Franz Joseph 1935, photographer: Mark Lysons

Dorothy Theomin dies

Dorothy Theomin died on 11 October, 1966, aged 78.

In her will revealed that she had left Olveston and its contents in the care of the City of Dunedin, subject to certain conditions being met. There was a period of uncertainty as to whether or not the City would accept the gift and it was largely due to the energies of a group of Miss Theomin's friends that Olveston was finally accepted as a property fit to become an historic home open to the public. The property was to be administered by the Dunedin City Council and the Dunedin Public Art Gallery Society.

« 11 October, 1966 »

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The Drawing Room c. 1920The Drawing Room c. 1920

Olveston bequeathed to the City of Dunedin

On Tuesday, 25 October 1966 it was also revealed that 'Olveston', the 35-room Royal Terrace home of the late Miss Dorothy Michaelis Theomin - who died 11 October in the same year, aged 78 - complete with its original contents of furniture, artworks, sculptures, textiles and all other domestics wares, was bequeathed to the City of Dunedin.

Source: Otago Daily Times, Saturday, 25 October 2014

« 25 October, 1966 »

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Olveston c.1970Olveston c.1970

Olveston opens to the public

After much debate, The Theomin gift of Olveston (complete with the original contents of the home) are accepted by the city of Dunedin. Under the terms of Dorothy's will, a trust deed was prepared in 1967 and forms the governing document which establishes the manner in which Olveston was to be operated as an historic house open to the public. The deed provides, and indeed charges, the trustees to maintain the gift in a sound, efficient and responsible manner.

« 1 October, 1967 »

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The cast and crew of Musical Theatre Dunedin's production of 'Me and My Girl', 1992The cast and crew of Musical Theatre Dunedin's production of 'Me and My Girl', 1992

Events at Olveston

In addition to hosting guided tours of the house, since opening as a house museum, Olveston has and continues to host weddings in the gardens, provided a authentic Edwardian backdrop for numerous film crews, hosted music recitals and presentations.

« 1992 »

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1921 Fiat 510 Tourer in 19941921 Fiat 510 Tourer in 1994

Fiat Restoration

Some 72 years after it was purchased, the original Fiat was discovered, standing axle deep in water, in a derelict farm shed a short distance from Dunedin. The vehicle had not moved for over 33 years.

In 1994 it was transported to Christchurch, New Zealand and fully restored by Auto Restorations Ltd. The work took over 2 years. The Fiat was returned to Olveston in 1996 and is now maintained in tip-top running order.

« 1994 »

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1921 Fiat 510 Tourer in 20081921 Fiat 510 Tourer in 2008

Fiat Restoration complete

After 2 years and many hours of work, The 1921 Fiat 510 Tourer is returned to Olveston

« 1996 »

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A carpet runner is machined by Feltex New Zealand for laying in the billiard room.A carpet runner is machined by Feltex New Zealand for laying in the billiard room.

Caring for the collection

The care and conservation of the Olveston collection is an ongoing project at the house.

Visitors do not walk on original rugs and carpets but on authentically made reproductions.

During the 1990s, to ensure the 'lived in feeling' of the family home is preserved, while ensuring collection items are not damaged, using the original designs and colours for the reproductions, rugs and carpets at Olveston can be appreciated by visitors while the original items are preserved.

« 1997 »

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Japanese conservators inspect the Olveston weaponry collection.Japanese conservators inspect the Olveston weaponry collection.

Caring for the collection

The process of cleaning and protecting the collection at Olveston follows international museum best practice standards.

« 1999 »

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Guests enjoying their picnic and garden gamesGuests enjoying their picnic and garden games

An Edwardian Garden Party

An Edwardian Garden Party was hosted at Olveston on Sunday, 26 January 2014.

Visitors enjoyed picnics and garden games from the era.

« 26 January, 2014 »

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Manu Berry, artist-in-residence at Olveston Dec 2013- Jan 2014Manu Berry, artist-in-residence at Olveston Dec 2013- Jan 2014

Artist-in-residence

Inside-Out, woodcuts and engravings is the product of Manu Berry's residency at Olveston over the summer. The exhibition at Olveston includes series of monoprints, woodcuts & etchings and a large installation entitled 'Tea with Dorothy', which is based on Dorothy Theomin's mountaineering photographs.

Inside-Out, woodcuts and etchings by Manu Berry, opens: Thursday, 6 March, 5-7pm. The exhibition is open to the public: Friday, 7 March - Sunday, 16 March, 'Drying Room', 10am-4pm daily

One of the works from the exhibitionOne of the works from the exhibition

« 7 March, 2014 »

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Oriental Forms, Peter Johnson, The Orchid Florist, DunedinOriental Forms, Peter Johnson, The Orchid Florist, Dunedin

Flowers @ home - an exposition of floral art

An extra-ordinary display of floral artworks throughout the house.

Friday, 11 April - Sunday, 13 April

Amaryllis Florist, St Andrew Street, Dunedin; Blueskin Nurseries, State Hwy 1, Waitati; Carley Jones Florist, Forbury Road, St Clair; Floral Art Friendship Club, Dunedin; Jenny Longstaff, Dunedin; Joseph Jones, George Street, Dunedin; The Orchid Florist, Centre City Mall; Marguerita Florist, Meridian Mall; Maytree Designs, Croydon Road, Dalmore; Mary-Anne Nikou, Dunedin Floral Art Society, Dunedin; Simply Flowers by Donna, Musselburgh Rise.

Proudly supported by Forsysth Barr, Dunedin

Autumn, Sandra Lang, Margarita Florist, Center City Mall, DunedinAutumn, Sandra Lang, Margarita Florist, Center City Mall, Dunedin

« 11 April, 2014 »

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Bryn M Jones, 'In the picture' 2014Bryn M Jones, 'In the picture' 2014

Otago Sculpture Exhibition

In association with the Otago Sculpture Trust, Olveston is hosting an exhibition of sculptures by prominent New Zealand artists.

Inspired by the Theomin Family, the house and the collection, the artists included in the exhibition present works which respond to site.

Thursday, 17 April - Sunday, 11 May

Free entry

Artists included in the exhibition include: Lawrie Forbes , Stuart Griffiths, Nicola Jackson , Bryn Jones, Morgan Jones , Peter Mason, Pam McKelvey, Peter Nicholls, Mike O’Kane, Philippa Wilson and Rudie Verhoef.

Nicola Jackson, 'The Companion' 2014Nicola Jackson, 'The Companion' 2014

« 17 April, 2014 »

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The cars line up along Cobden StreetThe cars line up along Cobden Street

Autumn Colours Outing

Commencing from Olveston the 2014 Autumn Colours Outing drivers and cars gather for the beginning of the biannual weekend drive to Arrowtown, Central Otago.

The event, organised by David Mehrtens, attracted 32 classic cars and enthusiasts.

The cars arrive at ArrowtownThe cars arrive at Arrowtown

« 26 April, 2014 »

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PoARTry @ OlvestonPoARTry @ Olveston

PoARTry @ Olveston

Continuing the Theomin Family's passion and support of artists and the arts, Olveston's second artist project was PoARTry, created by Ruth Arnison. After wandering, observing, thinking, reflecting and writing about the house during June and July, Ruth created a collection of poems about the collection and everyday goings on at Olveston. The peoms were then given to a group of artists to respond to, and these were then on exhibition, in the Drying Room 7-17 August 2014. A programme of poetry readings and other events were also presented as part of the exhibition.

« 7 August, 2014 »

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Olveston at Six, presented as part of the 2014 Arts Festival DunedinOlveston at Six, presented as part of the 2014 Arts Festival Dunedin

Olveston at Six

Presented as part of the 2014 Dunedin Arts Festival, Olveston presented a series of recitals, reliving the Edwardian era of home entertainment:

Enoch Arden

Mon, 13 Oct

The epic poem by Alfred, Lord Tennyson, with music by Richard Strauss.

John Drummond, narrator and Terence Dennis, piano

Elephant in the room

Tues, 14 Oct

Babaa the Elephant, A.A. Milne and co.

Honor McKellar, narrator, Vivienne McLean, piano and Serena Waterworth, soprano

Sophie's Choice

Wed, 15 Oct

Arias, Lider and art songs.

Sophie Morris, soprano and Vivienne McLean, piano

« 13 October, 2014 »

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Lindsay Kennett hat, gown Tanya Carlson and 'Jewellery By Idour'.  copyright: Chris Sullivan/seenindunedin.co.nzLindsay Kennett hat, gown Tanya Carlson and 'Jewellery By Idour'. copyright: Chris Sullivan/seenindunedin.co.nz

Hats on Royal

A celebration of fashion history celebrating the creations of Lindsay Kennett.

Special thanks to everyone involved: Our models - Tatiana, Joan, Kayleigh, Barbara, Alice and Rebecca - wore gowns from 'The Tanya Carlson Fashion Collection' and 'Jewellery By Idour' created by Chris Idour. Original music by Nick Knox. The show was produced and compared by Hilary Hunt. Thank too: David Hunt, Lindsay Gordon, Alicia Biggemann, Gary Ambler, Ashleigh Brenssell, photographers Chris Sullivan and Carlos Biggemann, flowers by Sally Brown, Blueskin Nurseries, Peter Stuart, Tony Reay, Fortune Theatre.

Lindsay Kennett, copyright: Chris Sullivan/seenindunedin.co.nzLindsay Kennett, copyright: Chris Sullivan/seenindunedin.co.nz

« 6 November, 2014 »

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Edward Theomin (1885–1926); active service 1917–18Edward Theomin (1885–1926); active service 1917–18

War Stories from the Olveston Library

Around the world, events large and small mark the centenary of the first World War. For each family touched by the war to end all wars, there are personal stories that live on through the generations.

Olveston Historic Home invites you to tune in Saturday afternoons at 12.30, for 'War Stories from the Olveston Library' – reading of correspondence between Dunedin families and their sons serving overseas, with music from the era, presented by Kevin Flaherty.

'War Stories From The Olveston Library' – Saturdays at 12.30 on Otago Access Radio 105.4FM and 1575AM until December 2015.

« 6 December, 2014 »

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Guests enjoying the food and companyGuests enjoying the food and company

Long Lunch

Hosted by Glow Consulting | PR & Marketing, Dunedin, 50 guests enjoyed a 'garden party' themed event on the lawn at Olveston.

« 27 February, 2015 »

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PosterPoster

Edwardian Garden Party

For the second year - Olveston hosted an Edwardian Garden Party. BYO picnic and lots of garden gardens and entertainment all day.

An outing for the FiatAn outing for the Fiat

« 15 March, 2015 »

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Marguerita Florist in the Bulter's PantryMarguerita Florist in the Bulter's Pantry

Flowers @ home - an exposition of floral art

Flowers@home – an exposition of floral art took place over the ANZAC long weekend 24-27 April 2015. Florists included: Amaryllis; Bunches and Bows; Gone Potty - Bridget Paape; Marguerita Florist; Orchid Florist Ltd; Simply Flowers; Chris Hislop; Dunedin Sogetsu Ikebana Group; Eden Flowers; Flowers on Mornington; Kylie Mathieson, Dawn William, Tony Fox; United Flower Growers. In addition, a Floral Art Exhibition was hosted in the Drying Room: John Z Robinson; James Cordery; Annelous Douglas; Jean Legros; Sue Humphreys; Jenny Longstaff; Lorene Cecconi; Doug Hart; Raimo Kuparinen; and Nerine.

Simply Flowers in the Great HallSimply Flowers in the Great Hall

« 24 April, 2015 »

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Escape PrismEscape Prism

Escape Prism, new works by Anya Sinclair

Anya Sinclair has been fascinated by the Olveston Historic Home, and in particular Dorothy, who she sees as the heroine of the Theomin family. She's spent months exploring the Town Belt, reimagining Dorothy's childhood adventures, which have grown intertwined with her own, growing up in Auckland's Waitakere Ranges. Two parallel histories, real and imagined.The nostalgia of childhood filtered through the darker lens of a more world weary storyteller. The narrative is primarily told by a series of paintings, augmented by sculpture and scent.

Escape PrismEscape Prism

« 5 June, 2015 »

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Mechanical ArchivesMechanical Archives

Mechanical Archives, Year 2 PHEA Exhibition

Mechanical Archives new works by Kelsey Frost, Liam Hoffman, Emily Johnston, Harry McComish, Zoa Smalley and Benjamin Watkins

Year 2 PHEA Exhibition

An exhibition of work produced by Dunedin Art School Year 2 PHEA Exhibition produced as part of the students 3 week residency at Olveston in June 2015.

« 16 June, 2015 »

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Olveston todayOlveston today

A home for everyone to enjoy

Olveston today is open as a house museum 7-days (closed Christmas Day).

Gifted with all the original family possessions, the house is a time capsule as little has changed inside since is was occupied as a family home from 1906 to 1966.

Olveston is an authentic and original historic home depicting the way of life of a well to do family in the early part of the twentieth century.

The Drawing Room todayThe Drawing Room today

« 2016 »

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  • Pre 1900s

    The start of the Theomin legacy

    1852

  • David Theomin

    David Ezekiel Benjamin, later known as David Edward Theomin, was born in Bristol, Gloucestershire, England, on 25 April 1852. His father, Joseph Benjamin, a Jewish Rabbi, had emigr...

    « 11 May, 1852 »

  • Marie Theomin (née Michaelis) 1855-1926, standing.  [Tuttle & Co. Melbourne] Inscribed: "Melbourne 1880/81"

    Marie Michaelis was born on 12 October, 1855 and was the second child born to Moritz and Rahel [nee Gotthelf] Michaelis. A daughter born earlier than Marie did not survive so she b...

    « 12 October, 1855 »

  • David Theomin

    David was educated at Wharton's School in Queen's Square and then, from January 1862 to December 1864, at Bristol Grammar School. After serving an apprenticeship in the hardware tr...

    « 1862 »

  • P. Falk and Company advert

    In 1874 he sailed for Melbourne, Australia, where his half-brother, Abraham Benjamin, lived. There he worked for P. Falkand Company, wholesale jewellers. David Benjamin first visi...

    « 1874 »

  • David, Marie and their children Dorothy and Edward

    It was in Melbourne David married Marie Michaelis , and at the end of 1879, the newly-weds had moved to New Zealand to establish a home in Dunedin. Once established in Dunedin, Da...

    « 31 January, 1879 »

  • Benjamin and Co building, Dunedin

    During the 1880's David Theomin established himself as a very successful businessman, developing the mercantile firm of Benjamin and Company and opening branches of his Dresden Pia...

    « 1880 »

  • Edward as a young man

    Edward, the only son of David and Marie Theomin was born on 29 January 1885. He was educated at Otago Boys' High School (1899-1901). After leaving school, he took up employment in...

    « 29 January, 1885 »

  • Dorothy in the garden at Olveston

    On 24 December 1888 Marie Theomin gave birth to Dorothy Michaelis Theomin. Her early education was at Miss Miller's School, Braemar, Moray Place, Dunedin.

    « 24 December, 1888 »

  • 1900-1930

    The building of a family home

    1900

  • David and Dorothy by the beach c.1902

    In 1901 David, Marie and Dorothy travelled to Europe. From New Zealand, they headed first to Australia, then to Hong Kong, China and Japan. From Japan, the family travelled throug...

    « 1901 »

  • Roedean School for girls near Brighton c.1907

    Between 1902 and 1905, Dorthy studied at Roedean on the Sussex Coast, a new school founded in 1885 by Dorothy, Penelope and Millicent Lawrence. Roedean broke away from the stifling...

    « 1902 »

  • Sir Ernest George

    When Mr and Mrs Theomin set off on an extensive trip to America, Europe and the Far East in 1902, they were much taken up with the objective of building a fine home for themselves ...

    « September 1902 »

  • Original floor plans provided by Ernest George and Yeates Abbott, November 1903

    Sir Ernest George provided extensive drawings and designs for all aspects of the house, including stain glass window designs, joinery, the operations of the lift and layout of the ...

    « November 1903 »

  • The building of Olveston c.1905

    Olveston was constructed between 1904-1906 by Robert Miekle, with Mason and Wales supervising the project. Built with every modern convenience, Olveston was fitted with central he...

    « 1904 »

  • Olveston c.1906

    The London firm of Green & Abbott were responsible for much of the interior design, including the English oak joinery. The original wallpapers were manufactured in Buffalo, New Yor...

    « 1906 »

  • The vestible decorated with Japanese weaponry from the 17th and 18th century (image c. 1930)

    During his lifetime David Theomin oversaw the collection to contain over 240 original artworks, many bronze statues, silver and gold objects of art and domestic items, antique furn...

    « October 1910 »

  • Dorothy and Edward Theomin climbing companion at the Haast Ridge Bivouac, March 1913, photographer: Jack Lippe

    Dorothy was keenly interested in outdoor pursuits. As a member of the New Zealand Alpine Club, she climbed and tramped in the Southern Alps over many years. Olveston has on displa...

    « 1913 »

  • Edward in military uniform

    In January 1917, Edward enlisted in the army and underwent training at Trentham during that year, earning his sergeant's stripes in September, attached to the Otago Regiment. He wa...

    « January 1917 »

  • 1921 Fiat 510 Tourer, purchased in 1922

    In 1922 Mr Theomin took delivery of a brand new Fiat 510 Tourer. This limousine was a classic example of elegant European motoring. 3.4 litres of driving pleasure, the car was use...

    « 1922 »

  • Marie Theomin (née Michaelis) 1855-1926, photograph: Dorothy Theomin

    Throughout the last two decades of her life, Marie Theomin was occupied in a voluntary capacity with various public and charitable works. Very soon after Olveston was completed, s...

    « 24 July, 1926 »

  • David and Dorothy

    After retirement, David kept an active life, travelling and engaged in the arts, particularly the Dunedin Public Art Gallery. By 1900 his distinctive, enthusiastic style for collec...

    « 1927 »

  • 1930-1960

    Dorothy lives alone at Olveston

    1930

  • Dorothy Theomin in the garden at Olveston

    Dorothy Theomin in the garden at Olveston Hocken Collection: ex-msf 1164 2-77-20 NZ Alpine Club Negative album Printed from original archive's negative.

    « November 1930 »

  • Daivd Theomin

    David Theomin dies at Olveston on 15th July 1933, aged 81.

    « 15 July, 1933 »

  • Dorothy and Lu Graham

    After the death of her parents, Dorothy continued to live at Olveston. She had an active social life and continued pursuing her personal interests in photography, climbing and rid...

    « 1937 »

  • Post 1960s

    The legacy of the Theomin Family

    1960

  • Dorothy and Margaret Graham, Franz Joseph 1935, photographer: Mark Lysons

    Dorothy Theomin died on 11 October, 1966, aged 78. In her will revealed that she had left Olveston and its contents in the care of the City of Dunedin, subject to certain conditio...

    « 11 October, 1966 »

  • The Drawing Room c. 1920

    On Tuesday, 25 October 1966 it was also revealed that 'Olveston', the 35-room Royal Terrace home of the late Miss Dorothy Michaelis Theomin - who died 11 October in the same year, ...

    « 25 October, 1966 »

  • Olveston c.1970

    After much debate, The Theomin gift of Olveston (complete with the original contents of the home) are accepted by the city of Dunedin. Under the terms of Dorothy's will, a trust de...

    « 1 October, 1967 »

  • The cast and crew of Musical Theatre Dunedin's production of 'Me and My Girl', 1992

    In addition to hosting guided tours of the house, since opening as a house museum, Olveston has and continues to host weddings in the gardens, provided a authentic Edwardian backdr...

    « 1992 »

  • 1921 Fiat 510 Tourer in 1994

    Some 72 years after it was purchased, the original Fiat was discovered, standing axle deep in water, in a derelict farm shed a short distance from Dunedin. The vehicle had not move...

    « 1994 »

  • 1921 Fiat 510 Tourer in 2008

    After 2 years and many hours of work, The 1921 Fiat 510 Tourer is returned to Olveston

    « 1996 »

  • A carpet runner is machined by Feltex New Zealand for laying in the billiard room.

    The care and conservation of the Olveston collection is an ongoing project at the house. Visitors do not walk on original rugs and carpets but on authentically made reproductions....

    « 1997 »

  • Japanese conservators inspect the Olveston weaponry collection.

    The process of cleaning and protecting the collection at Olveston follows international museum best practice standards.

    « 1999 »

  • Guests enjoying their picnic and garden games

    An Edwardian Garden Party was hosted at Olveston on Sunday, 26 January 2014. Visitors enjoyed picnics and garden games from the era.

    « 26 January, 2014 »

  • Manu Berry, artist-in-residence at Olveston Dec 2013- Jan 2014

    Inside-Out, woodcuts and engravings is the product of Manu Berry's residency at Olveston over the summer. The exhibition at Olveston includes series of monoprints, woodcuts & etchi...

    « 7 March, 2014 »

  • Oriental Forms, Peter Johnson, The Orchid Florist, Dunedin

    An extra-ordinary display of floral artworks throughout the house. Friday, 11 April - Sunday, 13 April Amaryllis Florist, St Andrew Street, Dunedin; Blueskin Nurseries, State Hwy...

    « 11 April, 2014 »

  • Bryn M Jones, 'In the picture' 2014

    In association with the Otago Sculpture Trust, Olveston is hosting an exhibition of sculptures by prominent New Zealand artists. Inspired by the Theomin Family, the house and the ...

    « 17 April, 2014 »

  • The cars line up along Cobden Street

    Commencing from Olveston the 2014 Autumn Colours Outing drivers and cars gather for the beginning of the biannual weekend drive to Arrowtown, Central Otago. The event, organised b...

    « 26 April, 2014 »

  • PoARTry @ Olveston

    Continuing the Theomin Family's passion and support of artists and the arts, Olveston's second artist project was PoARTry, created by Ruth Arnison. After wandering, observing, thin...

    « 7 August, 2014 »

  • Olveston at Six, presented as part of the 2014 Arts Festival Dunedin

    Presented as part of the 2014 Dunedin Arts Festival, Olveston presented a series of recitals, reliving the Edwardian era of home entertainment: Enoch Arden Mon, 13 Oct The epic ...

    « 13 October, 2014 »

  • Lindsay Kennett hat, gown Tanya Carlson and 'Jewellery By Idour'.  copyright: Chris Sullivan/seenindunedin.co.nz

    A celebration of fashion history celebrating the creations of Lindsay Kennett. Special thanks to everyone involved: Our models - Tatiana, Joan, Kayleigh, Barbara, Alice and Rebecc...

    « 6 November, 2014 »

  • Edward Theomin (1885–1926); active service 1917–18

    Around the world, events large and small mark the centenary of the first World War. For each family touched by the war to end all wars, there are personal stories that live on thro...

    « 6 December, 2014 »

  • Guests enjoying the food and company

    Hosted by Glow Consulting | PR & Marketing, Dunedin, 50 guests enjoyed a 'garden party' themed event on the lawn at Olveston.

    « 27 February, 2015 »

  • Poster

    For the second year - Olveston hosted an Edwardian Garden Party. BYO picnic and lots of garden gardens and entertainment all day.

    « 15 March, 2015 »

  • Marguerita Florist in the Bulter's Pantry

    Flowers@home – an exposition of floral art took place over the ANZAC long weekend 24-27 April 2015. Florists included: Amaryllis; Bunches and Bows; Gone Potty - Bridget Paape; Ma...

    « 24 April, 2015 »

  • Escape Prism

    Anya Sinclair has been fascinated by the Olveston Historic Home, and in particular Dorothy, who she sees as the heroine of the Theomin family. She's spent months exploring the Town...

    « 5 June, 2015 »

  • Mechanical Archives

    Mechanical Archives new works by Kelsey Frost, Liam Hoffman, Emily Johnston, Harry McComish, Zoa Smalley and Benjamin Watkins Year 2 PHEA Exhibition An exhibition of work produce...

    « 16 June, 2015 »

  • Olveston today

    Olveston today is open as a house museum 7-days (closed Christmas Day). Gifted with all the original family possessions, the house is a time capsule as little has changed inside s...

    « 2016 »

Pre 1900s

1852

1900-1930

1900

1930-1960

1930

Post 1960s

1960

Today

  • To New Zealand it is unique. It can do what few houses can today, namely, display ‘the cluttered charm of an Edwardian country house’ and it does. ”

    John Borrie, 1980 - ‘Olveston’ by John Borrie. 1987, 7th Edition.

  • This is an extremely interesting and grand house … This is the first time I have seen any of his [Sir Ernest George] work outside of England … It is a very grand home. ”

    Sir Nikolaus Pevsner. 1957 - ‘Olveston’ by John Borrie. 1987, 7th Edition.

  • The table was most beautifully decorated with exquisite Bohemian glass vases, bonbon dishes and menu holders all to match while the lights were softly shaded ... ”

    Otago Witness. 1907.

  • Had tea with the Theomins this afternoon … he has given me a £15 commission for a Tangier picture. He has been a most kind and generous patron. ”

    Frances Hodgkins. 1902 - Dorothy Theomin of Olveston by Margery Blackman. 2007.

  • Let things be done shipshape and Bristol fashion ”

    David Theomin - Bookplate

  • This house represents a “way of life” for a successful few in the first hundred years of New Zealand as a nation 1840-1940. Mansion House at Kawau Island was probably the first. ‘Olveston’ was the last, and most splendid. ”

    Dunedin Public Art Gallery Council - 1967.

  • Culturally and aesthetically unique, Olveston is worthy of preservation ”

    Dr Charles Brasch

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