House with colourful history on market
SUE FEA IN QUEENSTOWN
A historic home once owned by a notorious Queenstown arsonist who burned down almost half the town is for sale, after a million-dollar plus refurbishment.
The central Queenstown stone walled cottage was once owned by infamous grocery and candy merchant Philip Waldmann.
He was known by historians as "the man who tried to burn down Queenstown", and the home where Waldmann lived before embarking on his arson foray retains many of the original features it was built with in 1877.
The "Great Fire of Queenstown" took place in January 1882, and destroyed a sizeable chunk of the central retail and commercial area.
The newspaper of the day, the Lake Wakatipu Mail, recorded: "The fire-engine was out of order. Many of the buildings were wooden. The efforts of owners and townspeople, including women and children, who brought water by bucket chain, could not hold back the flames."
Police and fire authorities traced the source to a room at the back of Waldmann's home where a candle was found surrounded by a mass of what crown prosecutors later termed "plenty of combustible material".
He was tried in the Dunedin Supreme Court, found guilty of trying to burn down his house and sentenced to seven years in prison.
Now, 131 years later, the 250sqm York St property, expanded into a four-bedroom, two-bathroom home on 1369sqm of landscaped lawn and gardens, is for sale through Bayleys Queenstown. A plaque produced by the Queenstown and District Historical Society on the building's exterior acknowledges its importance.
Bayleys Queenstown salesperson Buzz Scown said special care had been taken to preserve as much of the heritage dwelling as possible during a year-long painstaking refurbishment.
Historical society members have regularly visited the site, partly out of curiosity, but also to ensure the legacy remained intact.
The home would be entered into various New Zealand building and design awards competitions.
- The Mirror
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