Aug 14, 2008

Heritage Tragedy

In relatively sound condition in July, 2008, the historically important Ti Kouka House on Cambridge Terrace was damaged by fire in early August.

Subsequent to being allowed to become derelict, the circa 1865 home of Samuel de la Bere Barker (1848-1901) at 281 Cambridge Terrace near the Madras Street bridge, appears to have become yet another victim of a suspicious fire.

Regretfully, in the only New Zealand city not to afford protection for heritage buildings, this tragic event might seem to be following a familiar sequence that has seen the destruction of too many heritage buildings occupying potentially valuable redevelopment sites.

Update: 1 September 08

The above photograph of the fire damaged kitchen is from a sequence of images posted on flickr by ars666. Click on the photo to see the whole set, which opens in a new window.

Update: 20 Aug 08

An observer reports:-

"The place is in a pretty bad state, not much to take photos of sadly.

What really gets me is I'd visited it a month or two ago and aside from being a bit messy the interior looked to be in pretty good nick.

Now the kitchen and one of the back rooms, as well as at least one room upstairs are written off - I would say pretty much the whole rear of the house would need to be rebuilt if it were to be saved.

Maybe I'm just jaded but the situation this house was in, and then the subsequent burning of it seems pretty suspect..."


kuaka said...

A pity Dave "Flash in the Pan" Henderson didn't own it or the Chch City Council might've included it in the Henderson bailout, inadvertently saving it perhaps.

Looking forward to a Canterbury Heritage post on the Henderson affair, but maybe too sensitive an issue locally???

Canterbury Heritage said...

Can't agree on Dave Henderson being just a Flash in the Pan. Although he's not much more than small fry among the city's property developing magnates, his imaginative vision gained him more media attention than most of his larger competitors (many of whom don't need to resort to the finance industry for working capital).

Regretfully this Editor needs to exercise a modicum of discretion in criticising the local property development industry as he acts as a consultant for a number of the more notable (including an history of the His Lordship's Lane environs for Dave Henderson). However, it's long been noted that islands tend to be little worlds unto themselves, and down here on the remotest and most isolated frontier of the Euoropean cultural tradition, the extent to which conflict of interest and cronyism is so acceptable, might seem to confirm that sociological observation.

Interestingly, part of the Council deal with Henderson includes a buy back of the site of what was the city's largest hotel in Manchester Street. The Council bought the 1909 Leviathen Hotel site on condition that the historic hotel was demolished - it's been a car park ever since. The Henderson deal allows him a buy back option on the properties involved in the deal.

The tragedy of Ti Kouka house would seem to be par for the course in a town where public opinion is just another manufacturing industry. Sadly there's insufficient vision to see the potential value in its restoration as corporate headquarters - possibly for one of the city's more visionary property development companies...

Sarndra said...

Terribly sad to see :-( as i love Canterbury history and heritage.

Keep up the good work with your site 'Canterbury Heritage' owners. It's brilliant.


Canterbury Heritage said...

Thanks for the comment Sarndra, it's much appreciated - as is your significant contribution to our local history. Do let us know if you'd like something photographed down here, Vic.

Sarndra said...

Much appreciated Vic... I miss Christchurch terribly but try to get down often from up here in will never replace my beloved Canterbury!

Any other hot topic tragedies happening? I can't believe that someone of substance can't see the importance of saving these buildings.

I was born in Essex Hospital which is now a boarding house last i heard, i suppose that will succumb in the next few years... Must visit Elm Grove off Fitzgerald Ave again also. Great grandmother lived at No. 30 in 1924 ... I guess it's not there anymore, i visited many many years ago and can't remember if it was standing or not. There were some amazing old homes back then. Hell i'm starting to sound old now!


Canterbury Heritage said...

Spring is a great time of the year to be in Christchurch: the colours of the flora are glorious, but there are some aspects of our self-confessed "world class" city that might be considered to be enhanced by the benefit of distance.

Hot topic tragedies currently include the City Council bail-out of a property developer while at the same time the city's oldest house was offered to the people of Christchurch for significantly less than its appraised market value. In the first case, without due process, the council speedily came up with $17 million and in the latter instance that same Council didn't even bother with the simple courtesy of a response.

A recent review of this web site described it as "enjoyably vituperative," but the local office of the Historic Places Trust unsuccessfuly sought a preƫmptive right to censor all of our articles. One might gain the overall impression that we continue to enjoy crony capitalism without the sophistication of Manila.

I'll have a look at 30 Elm Grove and if it's still there I'll photograph it for you.