Nearly 150 years of History!

The Arthur Burns Homestead

The original homestead (the white wooden building) was built in 1876 and was owned by Arthur Burns – the grandnephew of the Scottish Poet Robert Burns and son of the Rev Dr Thomas Burns who was the first Chancellor of the University of Otago and the first Presbyterian Minister in Otago.
Arthur Burns founded the Mosgiel Woollens company in 1871 and named the town ‘Mossgiel’ after Robert Burns’ farm in Ayrshire, Scotland.

Arthur Burns played a prominent role in Dunedin’s Provincial affairs and was also a member of the House of Representatives on three occasions.

The Southernmost Seminary

In 1899, Bishop Verdon, the second Bishop of Dunedin, purchased the original Burns Homestead to found a National Catholic Seminary. In 1899 Bishop Verdon journeyed to Rome to obtain the Pope’s blessing for the project and Pope Leo XIII, the Pope of the time, gave his blessing.

The centre opened on 3 May 1900 and was a High School preparatory as well as a Seminary teaching arts, philosophy and theology. The cost per year was 35 pound providing board, lodging, food, tuition and school books. The only extra charge was 1 pound and ten shillings for washing.

The first student at the newly opened seminary was Cecil Morkane who would become Monsignor Morkane. After completing his training at Holy Cross, Manly and in Rome he was ordained in 1907 and appointed curate at Lawrence. In 1910 he was appointed to the professorial staff at Holy Cross College and became Rector in 1920, remaining in that position until the College was committed to the charge of the Vincentian Fathers in 1934.

We remember them

One of the first priests ordained at the centre was Father James McMenamin who was a chaplain with the New Zealand Army and went to Gallipoli in 1915. He returned from war a broken man and after recovering from his injuries he requested to return with the Expeditionary Forces to France where he was killed in action in Belgium in 1917. He was the first Catholic chaplain to be killed in World War I.

Newer additions to the centre occurred in the 1960’s and the Verdon chapel in honour of Bishop Verdon was opened in 1963, and the original student block was opened in 1968.

In the 1990’s the Seminary was converted into a convention centre for community and cultural groups to stay and enjoy.

Many school, musical, sporting and cultural groups have stayed at the centre over the years and enjoyed the unique history and welcome received by the hosts.

In 2015, the centre was re-launched as The Burns Lodge, drawing on the cultural heritage of Dunedin and the long association with the Burns family.

The Burns Lodge offers guests a slice of history and modern warm facilities.


Book Burns
heritage accommodation

Call (03) 489 2600 to book

Where we are

89 Church Street, Mosgiel 9024 Telephone 03 489 2600
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