The Glen Aros land was originally part of the very large Maraekakaho Station owned by Sir Donald McLean (1820-1877). In 1908, two of the station managers, James Alexander MacFarlane and his brother William Archibald MacFarlane, from the Scottish Isle of Tiree, purchased the Mount Lookout block of the Maraekakaho Station. James named his 809 hectare property Glen Aros, the same as a valley located on the Scottish Isle of Mull. His brother William initially named his property Mt View, but later renamed it Waiterenui. To this day Waiterenui has remained in the MacFarlane family.
Shortly after acquiring the Glen Aros land James MacFarlane retained the well known Hawkes Bay architect Albert Garnett to design the homestead which was completed in 1914. The house is of the characteristic California bungalow style with two front-facing gables and half a second floor of bedrooms set into the gables. Generous, pillared verandas bound three sides of the house and look out to the grounds originally created by the leading Christchurch landscaping firm of A W Buxton and Son.
James MacFarlane lived in the Glen Aros homestead with his wife Adele and their two children, Mary and Donald, until he died in 1951. A year later, 162 hectares of the land were sold to pay for estate death duties. Donald subsequently died in a polo accident and Mrs Adele MacFarlane remained at Glen Aros until 1973 when she remarried. Her daughter, Mrs Mary White (known to all the locals as “Pops”), then lived at Glen Aros until 1993 at which time the homestead, along with 10 hectares of the land, was sold to the Fenwicke family from Wellington.
Hilton and Barbara Glavish, purchased Glen Aros from the Fenwickes in February 2001. During the following few years they extensively restored the homestead, meticulously retaining the gracious external architectural design, but modifying the interior to suit present day living. The bungalow tradition was maintained using carefully selected native New Zealand timbers of rimu and matai for the floors, doors and bay windows. Art nouveau stained glass and ceramic tiled en suite bathrooms highlight the interior restoration.
A swimming pool designed to enhance the natural beauty of the garden was added, together with a building in the style of the original house, with a meeting room, gym, and a large, rimu-panelled billiard room. The old stables were also replaced by a two-story cottage (now named Stables Cottage).
The restoration of Glen Aros has been acknowledged by awards from the New Zealand Institute of Architecture and the Hawkes Bay Art Deco Society.