The first subdivision of the Point Chevalier Crown allotments occurred during the early 1860s, when a ‘barracks town’ was established in response to defence needs during the Waikato War. Point Chevalier’s first local government was the Point Chevalier Road Board, which was established in 1874 as one of a series of highway districts founded across Auckland at this time. In the absence of any other functional government, these Road Boards were responsible for overseeing all urban services—not limited to roads as their name would suggest. However, only a small number of houses existed until residential subdivisions began more readily during the 1880s, and Point Chevalier retained a predominantly rural character until the early twentieth century.
Point Chevalier had been slow to develop in the early years, but it finally began to blossom during the interwar period. Point Chevalier amalgamated into Auckland City in 1921, but a 1924 map shows only about half of the point had been subdivided. Descriptions of each street from 1937 indicate that most streets had been formed and lined with bungalows by this time.
Point Chevalier got its first tram line in 1930, which was a major catalyst for residential development. The Point Chevalier route was completed in two stages in 1930. The first segment extended along Great North Road from Western Springs to “Hall Corner” (intersection of Great North Road and Point Chevalier Road), and was opened in March 1930. The second piece of the Point Chevalier extension opened on 27 July 1930, and included 1 3⁄4 miles of track from Great North Road to the end of the point. A new electrical sub-station was constructed concurrently in order to support the line. A Point Chevalier extension was first considered in 1922, but was deferred to a later date because of the concurrent Sandringham Road and Great South Road projects.
Improved infrastructure, extensive subdivision and associated population growth saw early farms replaced by residential development in the 1920s and 1930s. Given the period of development, it is no surprise that bungalows are the predominant historic housing type in Point Chevalier today. A small township was established with facilities including a library (1926), fire station (1926), cinema (1930), bank (1931) and shops along Great North Road. Point Chevalier also became popular as a seaside destination at this time, and services developed around the beach to service the tourists.
By World War II, the earlier suburbs such as Mount Eden, Kingsland, and Balmoral were largely built out with neat rows of bungalows and villas, but outlying areas such as Point Chevalier and Waterview still had vacant land. State houses built by the first Labour government (1935-1949) would fill nearly all the vacant land in Point Chevalier by the end of the post-war era.
Influenced by popular American housing trends of the time, the typical New Zealand “Californian Bungalow” proliferated in Point Chevalier in the late 1920s. Key features include a low-slung form, asymmetrical composition, shallow pitched gable roof with wide eaves, deep porches, revealed structural elements, emphasis on hand-crafted and rustic materials (including use of shingles), and an informal open plan.
The Californian bungalow was joined in the 1930s by the simpler, hipped-roofed English bungalow, sometimes referred to as a “bungalow cottage.” The large porches and layered gable configuration of the Californian bungalows gave way to buildings with little or no ornament, shallow hipped roofs with boxed eaves, projecting box windows, leaded or facetted glass, inglenooks, and hefty porch supports.
By the 1930s, other eclectic styles such as Art Deco, Tudor Revival, and Spanish Mission appeared in Point Chevalier, typically as a variation of the broader bungalow form.
State houses of the 1940s were influenced by the form and details of the English cottage-style bungalows. State houses typically feature hipped or side-gabled roofs with terracotta or asbestos cement roof tiles. A variety of cladding materials—namely timber weatherboards, brick veneer, asbestos cement, and concrete—were used reduce the homogeneity. The setting of state houses is also notable, typically arranged along landscaped curvilinear streets, with recreation reserves and community facilities integrated into the subdivisions.