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  • The front exter­i­or of the Scot­tish home is remin­is­cent of a church 

Nestled away in the town­ship of Mas­ter­ton sits a unique house that, from the street, you would think was an old church, with its steep eaves, lat­tice win­dows and arched front door.

The home was ori­gin­ally built in 1934, by a Scots­man who had emig­rated to New Zea­l­and. He used the plans of his ori­gin­al house in Scot­land to cre­ate an exact rep­lica here, thereby bring­ing a little touch of Scot­land to Masterton.

Now nick­named ‘Church House’ by loc­als, it has come to be one of Masterton’s most recog­nis­able char­ac­ter homes. Own­ers Phil and Shar­on Reilly bought the house in 2006, after liv­ing just across the street and admir­ing it for many years.

I wanted it so badly,” Shar­on says, “because it’s just such a pretty house.” Eight years later, the walls not only hold the his­tory of the house, but they also holds the family’s memor­ies: the couple brought up their two chil­dren here (“Hence the shabby state — it has seen two chil­dren, two dogs, a cat and 15 mil­lion of their closest friends!”).

Even though the house looks like a church, it has nev­er actu­ally been a church, but its ori­gin­al occu­pants did use it for church meet­ings. Phil explains that the steep church-like eaves were actu­ally designed for the Scot­tish cli­mate, allow­ing thick snow to slide off the roof eas­ily. Although the ori­gin­al design would have been built in stone, this con­struc­tion is wood.

It’s inter­est­ing isn’t it? You know this 1930s house that we con­sider quite his­tor­ic here, in Scot­land it would be rel­at­ively new,” says Phil.

When you enter the front door you are greeted with a grand foy­er and a stair­case lead­ing to the second level. Rest­ing eleg­antly on the stair­case ban­is­ter is a vin­tage art nou­veau lamp orna­ment. The house has changed a bit since the ori­gin­al con­struc­tion, with the attached front gar­age turned into a fourth bed­room, but many of the ori­gin­al fea­tures remain, such as the roun­ded-arch door frames and ala­baster lightshades.

The favour­ite room in the house — where every­one accu­mu­lates — is the liv­ing room, with an open fire­place and doors lead­ing into a sep­ar­ate din­ing room. The house also fea­tures a sunny con­ser­vat­ory that looks out onto the gen­er­ous sec­tion. This is lined with fruit trees along the back fence, and comes com­plete with an in-ground sol­ar heated salt-water pool — def­in­itely a hit with the kids, and their friends, when they were grow­ing up.

Of course, with older houses you can expect a bit of mys­tery. “There is a ghost here,” jokes Phil. “We call her Dorothy.”

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