History of Melrose House

Melrose House was built circa 1879 for Charles Fowell Willett Watts, who arrived in 1841 aboard the ship Will Watch.  After his death the House was passed to his daughter, Frances, and her husband Percy Bolland Adams, a prominent local lawyer.  Their only child, a son Noel Percy Adams, eventually inherited Melrose House. Percy and his wife, Eileen, gifted the property to the Women’s Division of the Federated Farmers Union (WDFF) in 1944. Eileen had a long association with the WDFF. 

Many years later the WDFF relinquished the House and in 1973 it was taken over by Nelson City Council (NCC).  In 1975 the Colonel Noel Percy Adams Trust (Melrose) Society was formed to ensure the interior of the House would be maintained for the use of the people of Nelson.

The antique Boardroom table and leather-upholstered chairs were provided by the NCC and had originally been in use in the Council chambers.

Today Nelson City Council still owns the property and maintains the exterior of the House as well as the extensive gardens – known as Melrose Gardens, while the Melrose Society is responsible for maintaining the interior of the House and promoting its use to the community.