Renovation of house reveals treasures

04:15, May 24 2013
 Brian Samuels
FROM THE PAST: Brian Samuels is renovating the 1926 house on the corner of Shelbourne and Nile St. He holds a piece of concrete off the walls with a copy of The Colonist dated April 3, 1905 stuck to it.

Even as a 1920s home in Nelson's Nile St becomes more modern, it reveals hidden treasures from its past.

Brian and Lynette Samuels are renovating their property on the corner of Nile and Shelbourne Sts.

The building used to belong to Geoffrey Gilbert, the father of Mr Samuels' old schoolfriend Peter.

ANTIQUE: A piece of wood in a matchbox, probably signed by the original builders.

Mr Samuels said he had often walked past the house in recent years, and always thought it would be a nice place to live. After Mr Gilbert died, he approached Peter with an offer, and it was sold in December.

"We weren't really ready to move from where we were but once it becomes available, you have to make the decision on whether you're going to jump, so you jump."

This is not the first historic house for the couple. For 17 years, they owned Fellworth House in The Wood.


Nile St
EARLY VIEW: A photo looking down Nile St, apparently taken from Christ Church Cathedral in 1916.

During the renovations, in the walls Mr Samuels found a matchbox which had the names of the builders and the date "January 5, 1922".

He believed this related to the date of the house's construction, as a newspaper found pasted on the back of the concrete sheets was dated between 1905 and 1919.

"They obviously stockpiled newspaper in those days," he said.

The building also used to be an auctioneer's rooms.

Mr Samuels said the renovation was being done with the goal of keeping the structure and outside features of the building but using updated materials and techniques such as double-glazing and aluminium cladding. There would be a concrete floor and a new roof.

"We're trying to keep it in keeping with what was here.

"I think we're going to be happy here. The big development going on on the other side of the road will make a big change to the environment. As long as they are done tastefully, I think it's good."

The renovation will take about six months, and he aims to be finished in October.

The Nelson Mail