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.