Pair sell home after 35 years

GWYNETH HYNDMAN
Last updated 05:00 06/02/2013

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A piece of Invercargill history is for sale.

After 35 years of living in a historic homestead once used as the Lawrence Brothers Jam factory, the Smith family are selling up.

The 1870s-era, four-bedroom home on 2 hectares off Oteramika Rd, east of Invercargill, has been a labour of love for Jim and Pam Smith since they first fell for the property as a young couple.

Now, after raising three boys and hosting countless Christmas dinners and family reunions on the front lawn, the couple agree it is time to pass the Maple Grove homestead on to new owners.

Maple Grove is now on the market, and has a government valuation of $300,000.

Mrs Smith said the couple moved there with their sons - then aged 3, 5 and 9 - because of the history, privacy and room for the boys to roam.

Three decades later they are still finding old tree huts in the woods surrounding the home.

Mr Smith said he was first drawn to the property because it was a project.

It took him three years to redo the piles under the house, using a car jack, a shovel and a bucket.

He replaced the chunks of rimu wood - "like decaying teeth" - with Australian hardwood and tackled the roof and the plumbing with the help of friends and family soon after.

While the expensive work had been done on the house, it required regular maintenance. The decision to move into a townhouse in Invercargill was not an easy one, the couple said.

They still found reminders of previous residents of the farm, including spectacles, farm tools, a painting and, of course, jam jars.

The jams were made by William Lawrence and his family in the 1880s, from blackberries, gooseberries, apple and pear trees on the property, planted about 10 years after the house was believed to have been built.

The jam, with the Lion Brand label on the glass, was widely distributed around Southland.

Mrs Smith said the fruit-processing room was probably where the family games room was now.

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