A "little madness" has gone a long way for the man who helped save a landmark Nelson homestead.
Thirty-four years after Alan Stanton staged a solo sit-in at Fairfield House which saved it from demolition, he has unveiled a new storyboard capturing the historic home's eventful past.
The abandoned house was set to be demolished in 1979 when Mr Stanton decided to take up residence on June 9. The next day he put a public notice in the Nelson Mail calling on residents to meet for a picnic on Fairfield grounds that Sunday to save the home.
Out of this grew the Friends of Old Fairfield (FOOF) that spurred a mammoth community effort to restore the home to its former glory.
Asked this week what drove him to make his one-man protest Mr Stanton said: "Back then I think you can say in a nutshell it was a little madness".
He said when he first saw the house he was moved by the feeling of the place, but was appalled by its dilapidated state.
Mr Stanton said all the plans made for the house at the picnic in 1979 had been achieved and surpassed their "collective expectations . . . it's become so much more of a hub for Nelson".
The unveiling of the new storyboard last weekend brought back some of the historic faces responsible for the home's restoration.
"There were a few of the originals there. It was a bit of a walk down memory lane," Mr Stanton said.
The new board traces the journey of the historic home's resurrection right back 164 years ago when the first settler, Neil McVicar, put his spade in the grounds at the top of Van Diemen St overlooking Nelson.
One side of the board tells its European history and the other displays events and activities held there.
It covers the building of Fairfield home built by the Atkinson family, from 1872 to 1877 to it passing to Nelson College for Girls in 1922 as a prep home and then on to Nelson College as a boarding home in 1930 until 1964.
From 1964 the home was left empty falling into disrepair until the community stepped in to save it.
"It was a really lovely gathering of old and new friends honouring the history of the site and celebrating what happened here," said custodian Catherine Brosnahan.
The community is still involved in maintaining the house and surrounding 2.8 hectares of woodland.
"It's the community that will keep it going," Ms Brosnahan said. She invited people to come and "create Fairfield's history in the future".
The board's design was donated by Janet Bathgate Design with FOOF members Mary Cowan and Ms Brosnahan helping with the content.
The Department of Conservation and Nelson City Council heritage fund sponsored the project.
- © Fairfax NZ News