Carlile House – Auckland

CARLILE HOUSE 002Carlile House is considered by locals in the area to be most certainly haunted, though most of its reputation has been built around stretched truths, made up stories, alongside its spooky exterior, leading to one very unfairly mislabelled and mistreated local urban legend.

It sits dementor-like at 84 Richmond Rd, Grey Lynn, Auckland, and sucks the life, emotion and property value out of the street. An asperous, grey building with its colossal stone tarnished by moss and rust, Carlile House is certainly a foreboding and eerie sight to the beholder. The smashed windows, boarded, indented wooden doors, and high, creepy curvature of the windows also significantly contribute to the house’s general eeriness and do little to welcome the curious ‘guests’ that meander outside on the footpath.

CARLILE HOUSE 001For generations, thousands of young kiwis have grown up knowing of the infamy and the myths surrounding Carlile House. It was built in 1886 and formerly known as The Costley Training Institution for Orphans. Many myths surround it. The most disturbing is that 43 young boys died from smoke inhalation during a fire in 1912. The fire was supposedly started by a neglected candle which spread to the curtains and ravaged through the dorms, a tragedy in the truest sense. The land itself is tainted by the traumatic events that took place, and the building’s rotted walls will always be scarred by the terror, death and anguish from within.

The tortured souls of the children are fabled to still stalk the corridors. You can feel ghostly eyes peering through the multicoloured stained-glass windows, and you can hear them shrieking and crying for someone to save them from their fiery abyss. The building creaks and groans from the wind which hurls through the hallways, rattling and shaking the walls. The children’s little hobnail boots are said to clatter up and down the decrepit staircases in the dark of night. Innocent passers-by are forever reminded of those lost children by the dull, gilded letters set in stone on the side of the mansion: Children’s Home: 1910, with a restorative Latin quote above: Deo Juvante – With God’s Help.

Morgan Browne – Massive Magazine, 2013


CARLILE HOUSE 009Landmark Victorian building in danger of collapse. Built as the Costley Home for Boys in the 1880s. Designed by Robert Jones Roberts (c.1832-1911) Reg no: 9584 – Category I

Edward Costley died in the 1880s and left a very large amount of money to be used for various charitable purposes including additions to the Auckland & Greenlane Hospitals which were named the Costley Wards. This structure in Richmond Road was built as the Costley Industrial School for boys. The focus of the Costley trustees was on boys whose character and antecedents were good, or those likely to profit by or be a credit to the institution. The boys were maintained, a portion of their earnings being deducted for their keep, until they were capable of controlling of their own affairs. Younger boys attended the nearest school until the end of standard four.

CARLILE HOUSE 012Numbers dwindled after the closure of the Auckland Industrial School in 1896. Following the closure of the Costley Training Institute at the end of 1908, the place served for two decades as the Richmond Road Children’s Home, an Anglican institution.

In 1913 a memorial chapel was constructed for Sister Cecil of the Order of the Good Shepherd, who had managed the facility from 1909 until her death in 1912 {this is the adjacent Tongan Church}.

Following the 1931 Hawkes Bay earthquake, the building briefly housed Hukarere Maori Girls’ School. From 1935 until circa 1969 the headquarters and training school of the Church Army, an Anglican evangelical outreach mission founded in London by Wilson Carlile (1862-1942) to undertake social work in slums was located here which is when it was renamed Carlile House.

The Church of St Michael and All Angels, the Church Army and an associated boys’ club are essential elements of Derek Hansen’s Remember Me: A Novel, (2007) set in Richmond Road during the 1950s the building was briefly used by the Department of Social Welfare as a remand home, and in 1973 became the Auckland Alternative School.

Virtually nothing has been done to this building since the 1970s, and it is rapidly decaying.

CARLILE HOUSE 004Despite the many fantastic stories circulating, there was never a fire in which 43 children perished. The Boys Home operated from the mid 1880s to the 1950s, and then the Salvation Army used it for emergency housing for twenty years or so. Without doubt, some deaths would have occurred here during that century of occupation. There was a fire in the late 1980s and possibly another in the 1990s, but neither involved anyone being hurt, let alone dying.

While there may be a resident ghost, people may be assured that if 43 children had died in a fire in this building (without apparently ANY newspaper reports) the building simply wouldn’t be still standing, it would have been immediately demolished.


  1. rahul gandhi

    i wanne live in Carlile House kindly give the information hows can be possible for this pls contact me my brother on this whatsup num +919653670786
    his name is navdeep kumar behal

    1. Luke

      You do realize, it is estimated to cost upwards of 8 million just to repair that place, and then you’d have to buy it in the first place. With today’s housing crisis it’d cost a fortune.

    2. Anonymous

      I lived there when I was a kid aged 5 in the 1960’s we referred to it as ‘home bay ‘ it was an orphanage then , and it was not a happy home ,
      I have very little memory of my time there other than misery .
      It was closed down due to mal practise in around 1966 and us orphans were bilited out to families across the north island .
      I’d love to see some photos of the orphans that were there in the 1960’s , if there are any available or even taken at that time .
      M . Engel .

  2. Lina

    Me and my boyfriend went to visit the Carlile House at 11:30pm, we took photos and we stood close to the fence, I was having a good 30 minutes stare at the house…nothing happened. No noise, no figures, nothing.

  3. Raj

    i was there with a few of my friends a couple days ago, we all were down stairs and heard whistling coming from upstairs. there was no one up there. you may say it was the wind or something but it whistled a tone. we all jumped out of our underwear and gapped it from there. one of the boys took a tongan flag, not sure if it was okay to.

      1. Raewyn Seamer

        My daughter’s and my friend went to Carlisle house and we took photos of the Carlisle house from outside from the fence . But when we got home we looked at the photos we took and we could see the figures in the photos of children and a couple of adults but when we went out of the photos and then went back into the photos they would have changed.

  4. Marisa

    Was it ever an orphanage or emergency housing for children in the 1960’s ?
    I was in an orphanage that looked just like this in the 1960’s apparently closed down by the authorities for mal practise
    Was it once called ‘Holme Bay ?’
    Or Home Bay ?
    I’d love to know as I recognise it from my childhood but can’t seem to find any info on a mysterious orphanage I was once housed in in the 1960’s

  5. Blackgate Sec

    For those interested, more information & photos indoors & outdoors can be found here:

    This property is a protected heritage site (that no-one wants to pay to improve) and was valued at $5.8 million in 2021. The site is guarded by the adjacent church’s adherents, but I found them to be a good friendly sort. If you try to break in or do anything suspicious however, they have an alleged history of getting violent, without police repercussions. Investigate respectfully, and at your own risk. This is a beautiful site from the street.

  6. isa

    hi me and my friends wanted to take a look at this place we are really interested in historical and hunted places, we have been to a few befor and wanted to know if there was anyone we could get in contact with in regards to seeing this place?

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