Historic Mona Vale homestead reopens after $3.2m repair and restoration
A much-loved and important part of Christchurch's heritage has reopened following a painstaking two-year, $3.2 million restoration and repair.
The historic Mona Vale homestead was severely damaged during the 2011 earthquakes, causing its chimneys and masonry walls to come down.
Thousands of bricks that formed the building's walls were all labelled and numbered before being put back during a painstaking restoration, Christchurch City Council heritage rebuild programme manager Richie Moyle said after Monday's official reopening.
"It is the world's biggest jigsaw puzzle.
"I'm very excited to see this wonderful old girl operating again."
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A steel and timber structure now sits within the building's walls. The restoration was not easy, with new problems arising almost every time a new wall lining was pulled back, Moyle said.
Several pleasant surprises were also found, including original mosaic tiles and an ornate pressed metal ceiling, which were restored and on show for people to see.
Moyle said the building's heating and electrical systems had been replaced, along with all the underground services.
The homestead was built about 1900 by Frank and Alice Waymouth, who named it Karewa. It was later owned by Annie Townend who added the gate house, bath house and conservatory.
Tracy Gough, founder of Gough, Gough and Hamer, known today as Gough Group, bought the property in 1939.
City councillor Jamie Gough, Tracy Gough's great grandson, said Mona Vale meant a lot to him and his family, but also held a special place in the hearts of most Christchurch citizens.
"I'm sure my great grandfather would have been overjoyed to see Mona Vale restored to its former glory like it is today. And he would take great comfort and pride in knowing that Mona Vale is protected, and can be enjoyed by everyone for many, many more years to come."
Jamie Gough said the bath house used to house a cold swimming pool. One day, his grandfather disconnected the hot water heating system from the house and re-routed it to the pool.
"The pool, for the first time, got beautifully warm, but no one could understand why the house was so bone-chillingly cold despite countless baffled tradespeople confirming the heating systems were working perfectly."
Following Tracy Gough's death, Mona Vale was sold to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. A New Zealand company expressed an interest in buying Mona Vale from the church and was considering demolishing the building and subdividing the land. The church declined the company's offer and waited to sell until the council had raised sufficient funds to buy the property.
There was a public outcry over the proposal and the council acquired the property for public use.
Before the earthquakes, the homestead was used as a restaurant and function centre and Continental planned to open the new Mona Vale Pantry cafe in the building on December 12.
Continental managing director Greg Ward said the company had a long association with Mona Vale, after holding its first wedding there in February 1976. He was excited to be back operating from the building.
"It's played a central role in thousands of special occasions."
He said a few tears were shed when Continental was confirmed as the new custodians of the building. The cafe would open for breakfast, lunch, coffee, high tea, product launches and other events, including weddings.
"What the heritage team has put together is quite remarkable."
* An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints had developed plans to demolish the homestead and subdivide the land.