Chippie returns to save historic home

Childhood memories inspire revamp plan

TRACY NEAL
Last updated 13:00 14/01/2014
Jacob Dyer
BIG JOB: The owner of the historic house on the corner of Vanguard and Motueka streets, Jacob Dyer, centre, with friends who are assisting in the restoration; Dave Weale, left, and Luigi Totaro.

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Melbourne-based chippie Jacob Dyer has turned a childhood memory into a hardcore building project.

The 27-year-old builder is the new owner of a crumbling Nelson historic home, which he initially walked away from buying, then realised it was an opportunity too good to miss. He snapped it up on his birthday last October, with a little urging from his parents who have a soft spot for old homes, he said.

Mr Dyer said that he used to walk past the house on his way to and from school.

Publicity around the sale and news that the home was to be restored, triggered information from those with family connections to the home. Nelson's Valerie Westley was delighted to discover her ancestors' family home, thought to have been built about 1870, was to be revived as she reckoned it was due for demolition about a decade ago.

Mrs Westley is the only relative in Nelson of one of the home's earliest owners, Andrew Salmond, who according to records took ownership in about 1878.

Mrs Westley, nee Salmond, is 82 years old and is Andrew Salmond's great granddaughter.

In the 1940s she would cycle every Saturday from her home in Halifax St with cakes for her great aunts, Jessie and Jean Salmond.

Early photos of the house and surrounds show a rural environment, including one with a flock of sheep blocking Vanguard St.

The rendered timber weatherboard carpenter gothic home is now being reclad with new weatherboards, has been insulated and the roof re-screwed.

The renovation project, which could go close to $100,000, is being supported by Mr Dyer's mates, electrician and handyman David Weale and Italian Luigi Totaro, who are each lending a helping hand.

"We took off all the old plaster, which exposed the old weatherboards which were rotten and falling apart," Mr Dyer said.

He was pleasantly surprised at the level of public interest in the house, which is tenanted by a live-in gardener.

"So many people toot, honk and offer things as they go past."

Mr Dyer has been a builder in Melbourne since 2008, and plans to one day return to Nelson.

"I do want to come back. It'll always be home."

Details of the home's history feature in the Nelson City Council's 2010 heritage inventory project, compiled by Wellington heritage architect Ian Bowman and historian Miriam Clark.

They said there was no information on council files that allowed them to place a definitive date on when the home was built, but rating records showed a four-room wooden house was built on the site in 1867.

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They were not certain if the current house was the original which had been added to.

Historic records on the land led the heritage inventory writers to believe the house was built by Henry Newport, who later sold it to Andrew Salmond.

The home remained in the Salmond family until 1951, but the land holding on which it was originally built was gradually subdivided.

Jessie Salmond, a spinster, was the last in the Salmond family to own the home. Ownership was transferred to Wellington carpenter William Marks in April 1951.

The home was returned to Nelson ownership in 1957 and from then it became the home of a succession of Nelson owners.

The style of the house is a version of gothic where English Tudor gothic was reinterpreted with timber but with simpler detailing and is known as carpenter gothic.

- © Fairfax NZ News

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