Jan 14, 2009

1861 Christchurch Hotel Demolition

UPDATE

We are pleased to announce that subsequent to the publication of the following article the Christchurch City Council has offered free fire/structure/condition reports and to fast track any heritage grant applications, which would meet 40% of refurbishment costs of the hotel.

It has also been announced that as a possible future use, New Zealand Aotearoa Adolescent Health and Development (NZAAHD) has applied for community funding to development the Occidental as emergency/transition housing for young people aged 16-24 years. The Ministry of Youth Development has also expressed an interest in using the building to accommodate young people on the independent youth benefit, with a programme to teach living skills.



Described as an eyesore by Katie McKone in Christchurch's The Star newspaper, the former Collins' Family Hotel and Boarding House at 208 Hereford Street, overlooking Latimer Square, is threatened with demolition by its owners; the curiously named City Foresight Ltd.


Built  in 1861 to the design of the Architect Samuel Coleridge Farr (1827-1918), the hotel and livery stables were popular with the wives and families of the members of the nearby 1862 Christchurch Club, of which James Collins had been the Steward since its foundation in 1856.

The hotel became known as the Occidental in 1889 when John Harris became the Licensee. George Pain (1854-1904) is listed the the Hotelkeeper from 1900. Benjamin Perry (1845-1926) acquired the License in 1906 and his son Ben (1885-1956) became the Publican when he died. Popular with the horse racing fraternity during that time, the renowned author Janet Frame was a housemaid-waitress there in 1947.


Perry's Occidental Hotel eventually declined into a Backpackers hostel in 1998. With the bedrooms painted in lurid colours, guests also complained that the former hotel was damp and smelly, unsurprisingly it closed in August, 2006.


Purchased in 2006 by another budget hotel company, Stonehurst Accommodation Ltd changed its name to City Foresight Ltd. in May, 2008.

Russell Harcourt Glynn is Chief Executive Officer of City Foresight Ltd. and Manager of the 1926 Stonehurst Hotel, which claims to "maintain our environmental integrity and to continually enhance our surroundings."

Glynn is reported in The Star newspaper article as saying in reference to the proposed demolition "You have to get emotions out of this, at the end of the day it is money. Emotions for me do not apply to this building - just because the building looks pretty and is heritage listed doesn't mean it is viable."

Along with former City Councillor Anna Crighton, Canterbury Heritage is both shocked and concerned at the prospect of the demolition of Christchurch's oldest surviving hotel.

Should a ghost haunt the old hotel's 35 rooms, then it's likely to be that of the wife of Captain the Honourable Francis Jollie (1815-1870) of Peel Forest. Jane Jollie died while staying at the hotel in 1869 and we would therefore exhort her shade to temporarily relocate to the other side of Latimer Square and thereby ensure sleepless nights for the seemingly Philistine Mr. Glynn.

17 comments:

Cheryl Bernstein said...

SURELY the City Plan wouldn't permit demolition of the Occidental?! If so, it's both a joke and a complete disgrace.

Canterbury Heritage said...

Christchurch is the only major New Zealand city to not provide statutory protection for its built heritage.

Anonymous said...

That is appalling - how do we change that

Canterbury Heritage said...

Sufficient political will to enact legislation for the nation wide protection of our cultural heritage.

However, a regulatory body might need to be independent of the Historic Places Trust, which in this self-confessed "world class" city, could appear to evidence conflicts of interest.

Greg said...

This can't be allowed to happen! What's the current situation regarding the building? To whom do we protest?

Canterbury Heritage said...

Current situation is that the old hotel is to be renovated as part of the adjacent Woolsack Lane redevelopment. Sad to say that the Council failed to protect another historic building at the other end of the lane, which has recently been demolished in favour of a concrete gymnasium.

E Coomber said...

I took the opportunity today to walk down Woolsack Lane now that the Les Mills gym is complete and the lane is free of building work. I also was reading the plans by urban design firm Boffa Miskil on the CCC website. The plan is to develop the area into a precinct similar to the Sol Square development, the area seems to be made for this. The Occidental would suit this purpose also, my only concern is that in a city such as Christchurch where people are a little slow to recognize a good thing when they see it (usually not till it's too late) that the council's lanes development wont be as successful as first hoped, The hotel NEEDS to be saved regardless! Latimer Square has been ruined enough!

Anonymous said...

It's obvious developers like Glynn (apparently)have no social conscience, or moral compass - their compass points directly to the bank.

I have watched with distaste the deterioration of the hotel from my office next door, I have also watched contractors strip anything of value (historical and monetary) from the interior – so I was amused when I read in the Press a couple of weeks ago that he considers that there is little apart from the fa├žade of value…that’s because everything has ripped out!

I would seem necessary therefore that someone else who has the authority for city planning (perhaps a local council lol) provides leadership in this area. If developers lack the conscience, then it’s up to someone to provide them with one. Quite simply, if developers like Glynn have this kind of attitude – it should be noted and this should act against any subsequent plans they submit. Glynn likes to make money whatever the consequences – hit him where it hurts.

Someone at the council needs to grow some! I have read many comments from residents through to visiting academics noting the wholesale destruction of historical buildings in Christchurch. What does it take for the council to change their stance on this or building bylaws?

Tanya said...

I went for a walk around our devastated city yesterday, and along with the heartbreak of the many historic buildings in rubble, (eartquake) There stands a most beautiful old builing, smeared with tags and graffitti. Before I became a Mum, and abandoned my drinking days to parenthood, I had many fabulous nights of entertainment at Perrys Bar. I look at the building and see such potential for another classy night spot, especially with the rugby coming, and many other bars forever lost to the Quake. I hope someone else can see the potential there too. What a loss to our city if 'she' goes. PS. She withstood the earthquake!

Anonymous said...

Due to recent devastation of old heritage buildings in and around the Central City is now the time for the CCC to step in and with the help of some keen investors to bring the old girl back to life. Possibly as Tanya suggested I believe it would be a great idea to transform this back into to a bar and if anyone is interested in doing so I would love to be involved in someway in seeing this happen if viable.

Anonymous said...

Happy day! I see the Occidental is for sale at last! Any new owner has to be superior to whoever owns it now. Cynically I wonder if the surfeit of bare sections now coming available in the central city has made this current owner's obvious plan to have the hotel 'go away' uneconomical.

I pledge to support any caring new owner in whatever use they decide for the building.

Also, please Mr Canterbury Heritage, isn't now a good time to come back??

Canterbury Heritage said...

Still undertaking academic research for others to publish, but have forsaken commercial consultancy.

Might have been more disposed to waffle on here some more, but that earthquake left the archives in need of a new home. So currently moving more than nine thousand books and rather a lot of local ephemera to the other side of town.

I'll be back...

Anonymous said...

The Occidental is part of my family history & it saddens me to think that is could be demolished as in it's day was & still could be a great hotel.It will be a sad day in my life if she has to go my grand-parents would turn in their grave if they saw her the way she is now....someone PLEASE save the ol' girl.

Anonymous said...

this waste of space money hungry glynn should not be allowed to be in the business of buying our citys history, is he even a Kiwi? Now is the time to save what is salvagable for born and bred cantabrians and future generations. Please Mr Heritage, do the right thing, there is so much more to life than worshipping the mighty dollar, make christchurch people happy :)

Anonymous said...

Well we might just have to make a scene. It's near the edge of the cordon. It's time to take a stand on what appears to be an insurance job!

Ross D said...

Well,I see the mongrels have pulled the Occidental down--I am gutted

Anonymous said...

@Ross: it's down? :( from earthquakes? Did it need to come down, or was it a conscious choice?

sad days indeed. Had many many great nights there. Woke up one morning on the pool table after a big night!