The Lakehouse Art Centre

Lake House Arts Centre
Lake House Arts Centre

We have been enjoying our ongoing investigation of the Lake House Arts Centre, in Takapuna. A stunning piece of historic real estate, built in the 1890’s as a family home and in 1997, relocated in seven pieces from its original place on Hurstmere road, at the Northern end of Takapuna Beach. A fascinating place with a somewhat eclectic and unusual back-story.
Its early beginnings saw it go from a house, to a hospital, boarding house and even utilised by a local “cult”, holding semi-regular social orgy gatherings.
A big thank you to all staff and management of the Lake House for being so helpful and welcoming and allowing us generous ongoing research access to the building.


  • A contorted old woman was seen one day by a young child doing arts and crafts in one of the lower rooms. The woman was apparently squatting high up in the ceiling corner looking down. She was so terrifying, the girl ran from the room screaming and traumatised.
  • A young girl has been seen several times sitting or standing on the big stairwell.
  • She has also been seen upstairs in the top floor corridor. Interestingly, there have also been multiple reports of small child-sized shadows moving around the building, as well as child-like voices and the pitter patter of running on the wooden floor-boards. These shadows have been witnessed by numerous investigators and guests during the team’s sessions.
  • Haunted Auckland investigator Sam Collier had a physical interaction during one session, when his camera’s firmly fixed illuminator lamp was pushed back and twisted around on him as he ascended a small set of stairs.
  • The team have had numerous possible interactions with equipment and trigger lights being manipulated. At one point, investigator, Aimee Peterken seemingly played (and lost) a game of Dominoes, with ‘’Patty’’, the apparent spirit of a nine year old girl that resided at the home. (See video)

A House of Many Names

The Lake House has had different names over the years. During the 1940’s to 60’s it was called the Lake House Flats when it was internally split into separate dwellings. Throughout the 1970s and 1980s the house known to locals as a swinging “party house”. Many referred to it simply as “127”, a reference to its address on Hurstmere Road. From the mid-1980s to 2000, the building was called the Coach House. The original name was reinstated and registered as Lake House in 2000.

Timeline of the Lake House & Lake House Arts Centre

Lake House, Takapuna, Dec 1910
Lake House, Takapuna in 1910
  • 1896 – Built entirely of heart Kauri, in the Lake Roading District of Waitemata County Council, Lake House was a family home and seaside boarding house at the northern end of Takapuna Beach. It was run by the Scanlen family for two years when owned by the Newson & Clara Sheppard. Over the years the property was also owned by John Gordon, the Winstone, Arthur and Gray families.
  • 1909 – A second storey was added, giving a total of 17 bedrooms.
  • 1918 – During the influenza epidemic of 1918 and 1919 the house was briefly used as a hospital.
  • 1984 – After lobbying by a tenant, Julia Mildren it was given a Category A historic rating by Takapuna City Council. It was cited as a unique example of a seaside Victorian/Edwardian boarding house. Julia had undertaken considerable research on the building to encourage purchase by the Council. However, in the same year it was purchased by developer Bob Green, who successfully appealed this rating in 1985.
  • 1995 – The council reinstated protection for the heritage house. This came with a caveat stating the building must be relocated within the boundary of the Takapuna Ward of the North Shore City Council. Coach House resident and artist Tony Ogle held an “End of an Era” art exhibition in the building, in November 1995. The exhibition was to raise awareness of the intentions of owner Bob Green to remove the house to create apartments. Discussions at the time were the catalyst for the eventual Lake House Trust formation.
  • 1996 – In March, a group of concerned citizens formed the Coach House Trust. The trustees worked with lawyer Alex Witten-Hannah, to have an injunction put in place which prevented the removal of the house to South Auckland. On 8th June, an emergency meeting of the North Shore City Council, Mayor George Gair gives his casting vote to allow Landowner Consent for the building to be relocated to the Barrys Point site. Three days later the Coach House was moved from its beachfront site. In a case settled out of court, the house was removed in seven pieces to sit on pallets on the old Takapuna tip site for a year, while gas mitigation issues on the current site opposite were completed and fundraising continued.
  • 1997 – Grants from ASB Charitable Trust and the Lottery Environment and Heritage Committee, fundraising and volunteer work enable the re-siting and then restoration and refurbishment of the historic building to begin.
  • 1998 – Opening the ArtFormz ’98 Festival, “A New Era Begins” exhibition takes place from 21st to 27th June in the half-refurbished building.
  • 2000 – On 19th November, The Lake House Arts Centre officially opened.
  • 2006 – Donated World War 2 Army Barracks were moved from Fort Cautley, in two pieces.  The barracks were reassembled in an L-shape behind Lake House. Haydn and Rollett Construction Ltd took on the reconstruction as their 60th Anniversary project.

The Lake House Today

Today, the Lake House is home to multiple gallery spaces. The Lake House Arts Centre has a constantly-changing exhibition programme, a café, artists’ studios, as well as a vibrant and varied arts education programme designed for every member of the family. Including weekend workshops, after school classes, holiday programmes and adult daytime classes.
It contains additional meeting rooms and teaching studios utilised by residents, professional and community artists and community arts groups. Over 65,000 visitors a year visit their exhibitions, events, art education classes and a café and art shop. Lake House Arts now operates as a heritage arts facility, managed by a Board of Trustees, to provide diverse community arts opportunities.

Investigating the Lake House
Investigating the Lake House

Shadows From the Past

Haunted Auckland has spent many hours in the Lakehouse doing investigation work.   Below are a couple of interesting sessions that we have put together a couple of videos for to document the moments. For one investigation, part of an ongoing case study to try to observe and document the ongoing alleged activity within this historical location in Takapuna, we were joined by our good friend from Wellington, James Gilberd from the New Zealand Strange Occurrences Society.
It was another interesting session at this location. We experienced some intriguing possible interactions via a trigger light, sounds of movement and several glimpses of unusual moving shadows seen by all present at various times. Short shadows too, which seemed to fit the stories of a child seen on the stairs and around the building. We’ve pieced together a video to document the evening. Enjoy!

For another session, we returned to the beautiful and mysterious Lake House Art Centre, joined by our friend Vicki Wedd from Napier Paranormal Society.

Previous sessions have given us some intriguing activity based on a few trigger objects.  Investigators have noted strange shadows and the sounds of movement during their visits.

In the name of research and pseudo-science, Aimee attempted interaction with the alleged 9-year-old ghost-girl that is sometimes seen on the stairs. We documented the results in the video below. We are not making any bold claims of actual paranormal activity here. Certainly, we don’t yet have enough evidence to back up such a claim. We will leave it up to you to draw your own conclusions. Enjoy our silliness!

Do you have a story to share about the Lake House? Have you seen or felt the shadow children present in the house? Or perhaps you relate to us some of the fascinating stories about the building’s past. Let us know in the comments below!

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